Barbara Jo Townsend

Barbara Jo Townsend

MADISON- Barbara Jo Townsend, 76, passed away November 2nd,2014 with her daughters by her side, following a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease.

Barb was born on September 15, 1938, in Chili Wisconsin to Ervin and Dorothy (Portz) Haslow. She married the love of her life William Baker Townsend on Nov. 24, 1962.

Barbara had fond memories of growing up in a small town. After graduating from Marshfield High School in 1956, Barb attended UW Madison. While in college, her grace and beauty helped capture the crown of Alice in Dairyland. After graduating from the UW Madison, she began her teaching career in the children’s unit of UW hospitals. She developed her career and eventually became Director of Orchard Ridge Nursery School. After retiring, she joined Wisconsin Youth as a supervisor for After School. She was a role model, mentor and perceptive advocate for the many children and staff members whose lives she touched.

Barbara was an activist, and her values were reflected by participation behind the scenes in many volunteer opportunities, boards and committees. She served on the UW Human Subjects Committee, local PTAs and other community organizations. She was honored by Hospice Care “Light Up A Life” for her tireless dedication and compassion in caring for families facing terminal illness and her work on their Board. Barbara had a strong sense of justice and was compelled to advocate for education, the environment, health and personal freedoms.

In addition to her own work, Barbara supported the family business, the Copper Grid, which she and Bill purchased in 1966. Working behind the bar, booking blue grass music or chopping onions for busy Badger football Saturdays, Barbara enjoyed the company of staff and meeting customers. The business brought them close to UW Athletics and they attended every Badger football, basketball and hockey game for years.

Barb was known to many as a wonderful and welcoming hostess. She loved to plan a party, especially one with a theme, and always welcomed friends and family into her home full of tradition. Barb held annual cookie decorating marathons, employee appreciation parties, progressive mystery dinners and “turning 40” surprise parties. Many will remember her elaborate costumes and delicious desserts. She was the queen of pie and anything rhubarb. She loved to have her daughter’s friends hang out at the house and was the first to suggest toilet papering a home for a friend’s birthday or building homecoming parade floats in her garage.

Barbara most enjoyed hosting at her beloved cottage on Wood Lake. There, she relished time relaxing, reading and playing games with her children, their friends and her grandchildren. Although she never learned to swim, she taught herself to sail and will be remembered by many tacking into the sunset. She took walks along the lake with the family dogs and planted wild flowers. When time away from the business allowed, Barb and Bill enjoyed traveling to places filled with sunshine and clear blue water.

Barbara was a mother and mentor for many. She adored her grandchildren and they adored her. She was a true, loyal and patient friend. She was able to listen to others without judgment. She was the glue who kept family and friends together.

Barbara was preceded in death by her husband William. She is survived by her children Catherine (John) Taylor of Glenview Ill, Susan (William) Schmitt of Verona; four grandchildren, Jayce, Liam, McEan and Aidan; sister, Mary Ellen (Robert) Reitz; brother, Ken (Marlys) Haslow; brother-in-law, George (Rosemary) Townsend; and several nieces and nephews.

On Saturday, November 22nd, 2014 a celebration of Barbara’s life will begin at 11:00 am at Holy Wisdom Monastery, 4200 County Road M, Middleton, WI. 53562 with a reception following.

We are grateful to all our friends who have been so supportive to our family over the years. A special thanks to our angels on earth, Elisa, Kristen, Evelyn, Muna, Karen and other staff at Senior Helpers who took such wonderful care of our mother so she could remain in her comfortable home with the beautiful view.

In lieu of plants and flowers, donations can be made to Michael J. Fox Foundation ( for Parkinson’s research, Agrace Hospice ( or Wisconsin Youth Scholarship Fund-After School, attn. Mary McCarthy, 1201 McKenna Blvd., Madison, WI 53719.

Cress Funeral & Cremation Service
3610 Speedway Road, Madison
Please share your memories at