Dr. Gertrude Barber transformed attitudes and nurtured hope, not only for children and adults with disabilities, but for their friends and families as well. Watch the videos below to hear from just a few of those whose Dr. Gertrude's life's ministry touched.
"Gertrude created something really special and unique and if you go across the United States, you'll have a hard time finding an organization like the Barber Center."
"My daughter Missy has been part of the Barber National Institute for 47 years. When she was 9 months old, she was diagnosed with microencephaly cerebral palsy. We were referred to the Barber National Institute, and the first person we met was Dr. Barber. I'd never met anyone like her ... Dr. Barber really gave you a different perspective on people with disabilities — she used to call it 'abilities' — and so it just really put a positive spin on everything. It really just gave you hope, and that's what most parents needed at the time."
"Rosemarie was born in 1954 … when I met with the pediatrician, it was probably the worst day of my life because he painted such a bleak picture … All he said was 'I'm sorry, this child has Down syndrome. The best thing he could advise us to do was to take her home, take care of her basic needs, and then put her in an institution.' [When I met Dr. Barber] I can't explain what a glorious feeling it was, that somebody cared, and somebody could help. When I see what is being done at the Barber Center, every time I step in, I feel that it is a very, very special place where people are given promise and hope and they're always looking to develop new programs and opportunities for people with disabilities and special needs."
"Three Voices" tells the stories of Nancy, Ray and Carol, and how their lives were touched by Dr. Gertrude A. Barber.
Dr. Barber gave you a different perspective on people with disabilities. She called them 'abilities' and so it just really had a positive spin on everything. It really gave you hope, and that's what most parents really needed.
Gertrude was a beautiful lady, but her outward beauty was a reflection of her inward refinement and peace knowing that she was doing God's work. Everyone who came in contact with her knew how special they were, for she had that ability to make each of us feel so special.
As a loving and caring individual, a highly respected and admired professional, and a concerned civic leader, Gertrude delicately touched the souls of many and left behind a precious imprint of herself on families, friends, and her community.
Dr. Barber was always there to compassionately guide families through the darkest hours. She guided us through trying times and brought us to a much higher level by allowing us to find some reason for our experience, and then to put it to good use in assisting others. Dr. Barber ... delivered every individual she encountered to a place that can only be described as their personal best.
Dr. Barber was the Mother Teresa of Erie. She saw the suffering of the exceptional children and adults of this area and used her manifest skills and above all, her love, to respond. With indomitable faith in God, Dr. Gertrude was a pioneer in service to those beloved by Christ. She left a thriving institution to carry on the work of service, education, and love that will always reflect the ideals of this humble, resourceful and noble woman. She has enriched our world.
She had a huge impact on the community; she got people to accept people who were different … Gertrude created something really special and unique and if you go across the United States, you'll have a hard time finding an organization like the Barber Center.
We were her family; our children were her children, and we could pretty much talk to her about anything. I think part of what Dr. Barber was doing came from her instincts as a woman to make sure that children – all children – had the same benefits in the community. She's left a legacy of memories and has left a true and lasting effect.