Barbara Almquist

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Barbara Ann Almquist died peacefully in her home in Edgartown on June 23, 2020, with her daughter by her side. She was 86 years of age. Her death was brought on by metastatic melanoma. 

Born in Davenport, Iowa, on Nov. 6, 1933, she was the daughter of Paul and Elsie Almquist. Her childhood years were spent in the Midwest. She lived in Wichita, Minneapolis, and Chicago, then settled back East in Wynnewood, on Philadelphia’s Main Line. She graduated from Lower Merion High School, then attended Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill. 

After college, Barbara worked for seven years for Towers Perrin, Forster & Crosby in Philadelphia. In 1959, she married Charles Soltis, and their only child, Kristin, was born in 1964.

In the 1970s Barbara served for years as a volunteer tour guide at Historic Yellow Springs, in Yellow Springs, Pa. In the 1980s she joined the Swedish Colonial Society in Philadelphia, and subsequently served as an officer and a councilor. 

From 1990 to 2000, Barbara worked for Chalfant Antiques in Westchester, Pa., where she greatly broadened her knowledge of American furniture and decorative arts. She immensely enjoyed this opportunity, and especially loved doing several shows a year. 

In 2000, Barbara moved from the Main Line to Martha’s Vineyard to be near her daughter. She worked for Vineyard Golf Club for 10 years as director of member services, where she served the members with the utmost dedication. She retired at the age of 76. 

Barbara had a strong faith, and was a long-term congregant of the Federated Church in Edgartown. She sang soprano in the church choir for 20 years, and served on the search committee for a new pastor. Her choir friends were indeed part of her family. Barbara was also a supporter of the Martha’s Vineyard Museum. She served on the special events committee for 17 years, and was dogged in her pursuit of items for the annual silent auction. Beyond her work with the special events committee, she was an ambassador for the museum’s mission, and for the move from Edgartown to Vineyard Haven, recognizing the need for a larger campus that would allow for better care of the collection. 

Two of Barbara’s true passions in life were history and the arts. She greatly appreciated classical music, antiques, fine arts, and decorative arts, and had an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. Barbara did extensive, original research on two 18th century Philadelphia silversmiths, father John Bayly and son John Bayly Jr. She became an expert on these artists, and advised museum curators at many institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Yale University Art Museum, the Clark Art Institute, Wadsworth Atheneum, Winterthur Museum, Smithsonian Institution, and the Art Institute of Chicago, among others. 

Barbara also had a passion for travel. She and Kristin enjoyed many trips to Europe together over the past 40 years. She had boundless energy for touring, right up into her 86th year. She was constantly expanding her vast knowledge of culture, history, the arts, and the natural world. Barbara always marveled at and appreciated the creation of beauty, both human and natural. She was a true student of the universe, and she will be greatly missed by all those she touched along the way.

Barbara is survived by her brother Richard Almquist, her sister-in-law Loretta Almquist, her nephew Richard Almquist Jr., her cousins Wendy Adams, Dennis Adams, and Sandra Urgo, and her daughter Kristin Warriner. 

A memorial service will be held at the Federated Church in Edgartown at a later date. 

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Federated Church, Martha’s Vineyard Museum, or Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard.