CLARA A. BARLEY
From 'Fanning the Embers', published 1971, Range Rider Reps, Miles City, Montana
By Valeria Barley Frank
Clara A. Barley
Born in Milwaukee, Wis., in 1896, Clara Alice Coleman attended teachers' college in Superior before coming West in 1916 to teach at Alzada, Mont. There she met and married Lee Richardson and two sons, James and Willis, were born. While managing this active, young family, she also ran a confectionery store. After teaching at Hysham in 1923, she came to Rosebud in 1924 as a young schoolteacher with two small boys to raise. Many who had her for their seventh and eighth grade teacher kept in touch over the years. In August, 1930, she married Joe Barley and moved to his Sand Creek Ranch 15 miles northeast of Rosebud, and 6 miles from the nearest neighbor. The 1930's were hard for housewives, too ... hand-me-downs had to be made over to fit growing boys who rode horseback six miles to grade school. Poor heating, cold winters, no running water, and no electricity added to the discomforts. And in 1932, there was a baby, Valeria. Always there were three hearty meals a day to fix for all the ranch crew. Clara found a friend in the postal system, for through letters she kept in contact with people everywhere. Then, too, postage stamp collecting became a hobby and a connecting link for years with many friends all over the world. The Needlework Departments of the Fairs in Forsyth, Miles City, Billings and Great Falls can all attest to her Blue Ribbon entries in "cut work," white and colored- embroidery, knitting, crochetting, etc. As a Rebekah she participated wholeheartedly in the local Mary May Lodge in Rosebud and served as State President in 1954, visiting all the Lodges in the state and attending national and international meetings with honor. She took an interest in politics and served as Democratic Committee Woman in Rosebud County. A lifelong Episcopalian, she was a member of the Daughters of the King and worked with Guild projects When she left the ranch her love of traveling was exercised in Florida, California, Arizona, New York, Washington, D.C., Alaska and points in between. After turning 60, she sailed on a freighter across the Atlantic Ocean, enjoying all ports of call, touring Europe, meeting and visiting pen pals after many years of correspondence. Alaska, land of the midnight sun, held its lure to a free spirit, and she went back in June, 1969. She was 73 years old. But the years had taken their toll and her life was soon to end. After several months in declining health, Clara Barley died on Christmas Eve, 1969. She had lived a rich and full life. She was both a student and a teacher. With the same enthusiasm that sent her to attend a high school class in German when past 65, she subtly and deftly broadened horizons for grandchildren young folk and all who knew her. As a friend said of her, "She will always be a person we will remember because she had that knack of leaving a light wherever she had been.