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Barbara Elaine Goy

June 9, 1927 - October 12, 2017

We mourn the passing of Barbara Goy: daughter, spouse, mother, grandmother, musician, educator, artist, children’s advocate, and tireless purveyor of warm hugs. Barbara was born in St. Augustine, Florida on June 9, 1927, and died peacefully, surrounded by family, in Portland, Oregon on October 12, 2017. She was predeceased by her husband Robert Goy (b. 1924 – d. 1999), and is survived by their three children (Michael, Peter, and Elizabeth) and seven grandchildren (Emily, Fredrick, Claire, Perry, Lydia, Robin, and Elaina).


Barbara was a tireless and passionate advocate for the transformative power of music. She fervently believed that art and music are latent in all individuals, and can be unlocked by early childhood exposure. To put this belief into practice, she founded the Preschool of the Arts in Madison Wisconsin in 1971, and established its initial guiding philosophy, which focused on integrating movement, rhythm, melody, and storytelling into the daily lives of very young students. Subsequently, in 1991, she and colleagues Ann McDermott, Karen Paape, and Donna Peckett developed Kaleidoscope, a two-week summer program for children that emphasizes music, movement, drama, and art. In 1995, again with Ann McDermott, she founded the Monroe Street Arts Center, a community school that focuses on music and the arts. All three of these institutions survive to this day, and form a robust core legacy that has enriched Madison’s art, music, and educational landscape for years. The clarity of Barbara’s vision, and the success of her philosophy, are exemplified by a remarkable array of her former students who have blossomed as artists, musicians, dancers, and thespians, and by the longevity of the institutions that she founded.


Barbara also devoted uncountable hours to a quietly brilliant, and totally unpretentious, career as a visual artist. Her body of work was loosely based on the traditional techniques of embroidery, but she expanded conventional stitchery patterns to create a genre of her own invention, which she called “needle painting”. Her detailed embroideries are richly glowing masterpieces, wherein each stitch (among hundreds of thousands) was carefully chosen and executed to contribute a specific color and texture. The results echo both the crisp precision of pointillist photorealism and the compelling charm of American folk art.


Rest in peace, Barbara. Each person whose life you touched was a colorful stitch added to the lush tapestry of your own life… a tapestry that lives on through the memories of those who were shaped by your tender and joyful touch.


A musical memorial will take place on November 25, 2017, at 1pm at:
Terwilliger Plaza Auditorium

2545 SW Terwilliger Blvd

Portland OR 97201

Please park across the street in the lot on the corner of SW 6th Ave and Sheridan St., sign in at the front desk, and ask for directions to the auditorium.


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