Barbara Lea Saunders, a retired educator and director of student teaching, died on Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022. She was 84.
She was born on June 25, 1938, to the late Willie Sr. and Margaret Saunders in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Saunders was a lifetime member of Atlantic City’s Second Baptist Church. She was one of two students to receive the first scholarships awarded by the church. Her church affiliations also included Mount Carmel Baptist Church in Philadelphia; St. Paul Baptist Church in West Chester; and Zion Baptist Church in Xenia, Ohio.
She attended Atlantic City public schools and graduated from Atlantic City High School in 1956. She obtained her bachelor of science degree in elementary education from Central State University, her master’s degree from Indiana University, and her Ph.D from Ohio State University while on a full fellowship study scholarship. As an alumna of Central State University, she became excited when she would prepare for annual homecoming events and social gatherings with college friends.
She started teaching in Gary, Indiana, and then in Philadelphia public schools. Later, she became an adjunct professor at Saint Joseph’s University. She was also employed by the New Brunswick Public Schools as director of the Title I and Compensatory Education Programs.
In 1980, she became assistant director of curriculum services for the Pennsylvania Department of Education. She later returned to Central State as a director and associate professor in the Department of Education. She later accepted employment with North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, North Carolina, as director of student teaching, field experiences and graduate internships. There she gained tenure as an associate professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.
After graduating from Central State, she was honored as the “Most Outstanding Woman in Her Graduation Class of 1960.” She was also president/chair of several organizations, including her undergraduate sorority chapter, Beta Xi Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
Saunders inspired her nieces and great-nephew to attend college and to be at their best. She enjoyed listening to jazz and “Oldies but Goodies,” collecting antiques, meeting her friends at the beach, swimming in the ocean, walking and shopping on the boardwalk. Her most memorable trips were to Israel and South Africa for educational and professional exchanges.
She was preceded in death by her brother, Willie Saunders Jr.; niece, Deborah A. Saunders; sister-in-law, Wilma Badgley; and cousins, Carrie Abrams and Yvonne O’Brian.
“Barbara was an outstanding educator and scholar who engaged in a variety of interesting and challenging educational opportunities,’’ her family said in a tribute. “Barbara was well known for her stylish dressing, “Sophisticated Lady” demeanor, and outgoing personality.”
She is survived by her nieces, Diane M. Saunders and Barbara Jean Saunders; great-nephew, William Kaighn Saunders; grand-nephew, Yashir Nixon; cousins, Harry Abrams, Margaret T. Hickson and Richard Jasper Jr.; and other family members and friends.
Services will be held at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 25, at Second Baptist Church, 110 Dr. I.S. Cole Plaza, Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Greenidge Funeral Homes, Inc. handled the arrangements.