Barbara L. Sorensen passed away peacefully in San Diego on Dec. 28, 2021, with her daughter by her side. Barbara was born May 13, 1926, in Hampton, Virginia. She was the second of Jessie and Leroy Stinneford’s three daughters and spent her early years living on the campus of Hampton Institute (now Hampton University) where both her parents taught.
At barely 17 years old, Barbara left Virginia to attend Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Her years there were full of unique experiences, from being roommates with Edythe Scott ’47, the sister of Coretta Scott King ’51, to spending a semester back at Hampton on an exchange program, to being asked out on a date by Rod Serling ’50. She turned down the date, but Mr. Serling knew she was interested in his friend and dormmate, and he encouraged George Sorensen ’50to ask Barbara out. She accepted, and George and Barbara were married in 1948 on the same day she graduated from Antioch.
Graduate school brought George and Barbara to Boston University, where they both earned their master’s degree. They moved to New Jersey, where Barbara was a social worker and George was instrumental in developing Monmouth College from a two-year to a four-year institution. Son Bradley and daughter Laura were born there, and the family began adventures that would see them moving across country to live in Minnesota and Iowa, before landing in San Diego in 1967, where George began teaching at SDSU in both the Journalism and Sociology departments, and Barbara started her career at San Diego Center for Children as a psychiatric social worker and family educator.
Barbara was active in many organizations, including AAUW and League of Women Voters, as well as her church, Summit Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, and in book and film discussions, Tai Chi classes, and Meals on Wheels. She was a member of a group of dear friends called Soul Mates, who met monthly to share celebrations and sorrows, deep thoughts and deep laughs. For many years, Barbara volunteered at the El Cajon public library reading to children in the Grandparents and Books program. In addition, George and Barbara were members of the Laguna Mountains Volunteers Association, where Barbara worked at the visitor center, while George helped maintain the trails in the Cleveland National Forest.
Camping was a big part of the Sorensen’s family life. They even spent ten weeks camping in Iowa the summer before moving to San Diego while George finished his doctorate. Over the years, there were many hours spent on hikes and around campfires in the company of special friends, with Anza-Borrrego a favorite destination.
George and Barbara also traveled extensively throughout the world. They were both curious life-long learners and traveling fed their desire to learn about and experience other cultures. From Russia to Costa Rica, the Appalachian Mountains to the outback of Australia, they made over 40 trips with Elderhostel/Road Scholar groups, finding the combination of travel and education a great match. After George passed away in 2004, Barbara continued traveling with friends, knowing George was with her in spirit.
Barbara was one of the kindest people on Earth. She was the best mother anyone could ask for and a wonderful grandmother to grandson Alec. She was patient and loving, open-minded and optimistic. She thought the best of everyone and always offered the benefit of the doubt. She was generous with her smiles, her time, her knowledge and her heart. She was loved, and will be missed, beyond words.
A celebration of life will be held at a later date.