ALTOONA, Florida — Barbara Keeney Mandigo passed away on Aug. 18, 2020, at Lake View Terrace in Altoona, Florida, resulting from complications from a fall.
She was born April 17, 1915, the daughter of Noble E. Keeney and Ella Bacon Keeney of Groton, New York.
Barbara graduated from Genoa High School in 1932 and received a Bachelor of Science in human ecology from Cornell University in 1937. After graduating from Cornell University she was employed by the Oswego Cooperative Extension Service, New York, from 1937 until 1942; by the Department of Social Services in Mexico, New York, from 1953 to 1955; and by the 4-H Extension Service as a 4-H club agent from 1955 to 1975. Barbara also ran a local 4-H Club, the Spring Brook Hustlers, that had as many as 35 members including her sons.
Barbara received the Epsilon Sigma Phi Award for Quality & Excellence while working for the 4-H Extension Service.
Barbara was a member of the Pulaski Baptist Church and a Sunday school teacher for many years, a 77-year member of the Farm Bureau, an 81-year Grange member, an 81-year member of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), a consultant for the Farm Journal in 1959 and 1960, village historian for Pulaski, New York, from 1984 to 2001, member of the Monday Club, hosted two students and oversaw student/host relations in Oswego County for American Field Service (AFS), a life member and active contributor to the historical societies in Pulaski and Lansing, New York, chairman of the Chaplin Committee at Lake View Terrace, chairman of the Boggy Creek Camp Committee and was president of the Lake View Terrace Residents Association in 2006.
As a member of the Boggy Creek Camp Committee, Barbara cut and sewed more than 5,000 “skins” for teddy bears, 22 pieces for each bear, that were in turn stuffed and given to children attending Boggy Creek Camp, a camp for seriously ill children. She was honored as the People’s Choice Volunteer by the Orlando News 13 TV station in April 2016 for her work.
In 1940 Barbara Keeney married Richard F. Mandigo and they moved to the Stewart family farm (since 1876) in Pulaski, New York. Barbara and Richard both retired in 1975. From 1975 to 1986 they traveled extensively; visiting cities, friends and historical sites on all continents (except Antarctica) in addition to New Zealand, Japan and the South Pacific islands. During these travels Barbara authored journals that were published in the Pulaski Democrat Newspaper. She and Richard also presented numerous seminars on this material to Pulaski students. From 1986 until 2001, they spent winters in Umatilla, Florida, and summers in Pulaski. Barbara resided permanently at Lake View Terrace since 2001.
Barbara and Richard (1916–2010) had five sons: Paul Mandigo (Mary), DeKalb, Illinois; Ted Mandigo (Shirl), Elmhurst, Illinois; Frank (Nadine), Salt Lake City, Utah; Charles (Lori Ann), Seattle, Washington, and Dan (Marilyn), Sandy Creek, New York. Barbara had 12 grandchildren: Katie Madison and Jon (Paul); Karen, Ric and Josh (Ted); Jennifer Brennan and Christopher (Frank); Caela and Ryley (Charles) and Kristy Kinkor, Danielle Hamilton and John; and, six great-grandchildren: Charlotte (Jon/Paul); Seth (Ric/Ted); Madeleine and Lillian Bea (Jennifer/Frank); Benjamin, Brian and Evelyn (Christopher/Frank); Alexander and Colin (Kristy/Dan) and Daniel “Zane” (John/Dan).
Barbara was predeceased by her husband Richard; four brothers, Earl, Robert, Ted and Jim; five sisters, Polly Alberger, May Bowman, Ester Larson, Betty MacKenzie and Annajean Ayers; son Frank; and grandson Josh.
Barbara had a lifetime association with Cornell University: her parents met while attending classes at Cornell; she was a graduate of Cornell (Class of 1937); she met her husband, Richard, at Cornell; her five sons, daughter-in-law Marilyn, and granddaughter Danielle all graduated from Cornell; and Cornell was her employer for 20 years when she was with the 4-H Extension Service. She attended her 75th and 80th Cornell Class Reunions, and was featured in an interview as the oldest Cornell alumna during the 2020 Cornell virtual reunion.
Barbara experienced many things in her lifetime, some of them reaching back in time: Stories from her father who was a U.S. Marine providing security during the construction of the Panama Canal and at the 1905 Portsmouth Treaty Conference ending the Russo-Japanese War; as a child, shaking hands with a Civil War veteran who had shaken the hand of President Abraham Lincoln; meeting Eleanor Roosevelt at Cornell University; and, coming of age during and experiencing the deprivations of the Great Depression.
Always learning, Barbara was never without a good book (usually nonfiction, with particular interest in biographies and American history). Her curiosity made for lively conversation, and she made fast friends wherever she went. She loved to hum old hymns; if she wasn’t reading, she was humming. Barbara will be remembered for her fierce intelligence, grit, and a lifetime of service. She set an example for family and many others and will be sorely missed. She leaves us with the charge: “Make yourself useful.”
A memorial service for Barbara will be held sometime in the future. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Boggy Bears Club at Lakeview Terrace, 331 Raintree Drive, Altoona, FL 32702.