Barbara Kay Rodgers, 56, organist at church, founder of bicycling club

July 31, 1999|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Barbara Kay Rodgers, an organist for Monroe Street United Methodist Church and a founder of the Baltimore Bicycling Club, died of heart failure July 24 at Johns Hopkins Hospital. She was 56 and lived in Dundalk.

A church musician who brought music to the streets around the city sanctuary where she played and worshiped, Ms. Rodgers gave free piano lessons to the children in Southwest Baltimore and encouraged local talent at informal concerts she arranged.

"It is a small congregation, but she reached out to the people through her music," said the Rev. Jeff Paulson, former pastor of the church on Monroe Street near Pratt Street. "She appreciated all levels of music and instituted an annual community concert to showcase that ability."

For the past three years, Ms. Rodgers was the church's musician, leading the adult and children's choirs and Wednesday night hymns that were popular with older members of the congregation.

She was also active with two other local congregations, teaching vacation Bible school at Graceland United Methodist Church in Dundalk and singing on Saturday evenings at St. Luke's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Northeast Baltimore.

"The beauty of Barbara was that she could do what was needed," said Judy Lightner, a Perry Hall resident and friend. "She was soft-spoken and gentle with a powerful voice."

The former Barbara Kay Stafford was born in Indianapolis and received her bachelor's degree in education from Oberlin College in 1963. She also studied at its music conservatory. She became a United Methodist Church missionary and taught at the Caribbean Consolidated School in San Juan, Puerto Rico, before moving to Baltimore in 1965.

She settled in Towson and in 1967 helped found the Baltimore Bicycling Club, a group of cycling enthusiasts who took trips throughout Maryland and the mid-Atlantic region. She was the club's first treasurer and wrote its newsletter. She also rode her bike on errands throughout Towson.

Ms. Rodgers was married to Wayne H. Rodgers, an Essex Community College health teacher. The marriage ended in divorce. Mr. Rodgers died in 1997.

In the early 1990s Ms. Rodgers taught at the Towson YMCA Day Care Center and a Head Start program at the Carver Center, also in Towson. She also worked as a proofreader for Waverly Press.

She enjoyed painting and writing poetry and music. Each December she composed a Christmas song for her friends. She appeared in "The King and I," "The Man Who Came to Dinner" and "H.M.S. Pinafore" at Essex Community College.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. today at Graceland United Methodist Church, 6714 Youngstown Ave.

She is survived by two daughters, Susan M. Rodgers of Towson and Rebecca D. Rodgers of Baltimore; her parents, Herb and Kathryn Stafford of Indianapolis; and a sister, Sue Wakat of Plantation, Fla.

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