WILLISTON — Barbara (Briggs) Sunderland Leopold died peacefully with her loving family by her side on Monday September 2, 2013.
Barbara was born on June 9, 1928, and was the younger daughter of Walter C. and Catherine Shearman Sunderland in Jamestown, N.Y.
She grew up in Jamestown, attended Jamestown schools, graduating from Jamestown High School in 1946. On July 2, 1948, she married Jonathan P. A. Leopold in Buffalo, N.Y.
Together they reared four children, sailed their Dragon class sailboats in international competitions and owned a Morgan Horse farm. When they were first married, they lived in Buffalo, and in 1965 moved to Williston, where they lived on and owned a 250-acre farm.
Barbara loved animals, and was never without one or more dogs, and one or more cats, and there were times when there were as many as five dogs and two or three cats in her household. She also ran Enterprise Morgan Horse Farm, the family Morgan Horse farm in Williston.
The pride and joy of the farm was the fastest trotting Morgan Horse of the 20th century, Portledge Steven, who was an integral part of the Leopold family. Other inhabitants of the farm included beef cattle, ducks, chickens, many barn cats, pigs, and other assorted animals.
Barbara lived briefly in Baltimore, Md. from 1974 to 1976. She studied history at The Johns Hopkins University.
She missed Vermont and in 1977 moved to Woodstock, where she bought a farm, worked as a real estate broker, and became active in the Lucy Mackenzie Humane Society, serving as the volunteer Executive Director of the shelter, and as vice president and treasurer of the Board of Trustees. She also served as an Animal Cruelty Officer for Windsor County.
Barbara moved to The Lodge at Shelburne Bay in 2001 to be closer to her family.
Barbara had a deep sense of caring for animals and people. She adopted many animals and a few people. She was active in Vermont politics and had a strong civic commitment. In the 1960’s, she led a project that supplemented social studies classes at Champlain Valley Union High School bringing students to Montpelier to meet legislators and government officials, and to experience the Vermont Legislature at work. Among many other civic efforts, she was the lead plaintiff in a landmark Vermont court decision requiring proportional representation in the governance of union school districts throughout Vermont.
Barbara is survived by her four children: Jonathan and his wife Roxane of Burlington; James and his wife Candis of Colchester; Christopher and his wife Jennifer of Shelburne; and Elizabeth Anne and her spouse Jane Woodruff of Greensboro. She is also survived by six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
She was predeceased by her parents, her sister Catherine S. Webster, and her former husband Jonathan Leopold.
Barbara and her family appreciated the gentle and loving care by Dr. Frank Landry and the staff at The Shores at Shelburne Bay during the past year. She valued her friendships with the staff and residents.
In lieu of flowers contributions in her name may be made to the following organizations: The Regatta for Lake Champlain, 113 Church St., Burlington, VT 05401; Soaring Eagle, P.O. Drawer 879, Billings, Montana 59103-0879; The Sierra Club, 85 Second Street, 2nd Floor, San Francisco, CA 94105-344
This obituary first appeared in the September 12, 2013 print edition of the Vermont Standard.
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