Barbara K. Williamson, 80, Red Cross official, gardener

July 15, 2002

Barbara K. Williamson, a former Red Cross official, volunteer and gardener, died of respiratory failure Friday at Roland Park Place. She was 80.

The former Cockeysville and Roland Park resident was born Barbara Klein in Washington. Her father, Julius Klein, was undersecretary of commerce during the Hoover administration.

She was a boarding student at Notre Dame Preparatory School in Baltimore, and later attended Stanford University.

In 1941, she married John S. Williamson, who later became president of Williamson Veneer Co., a family business. He died in 1996.

Mrs. Williamson began volunteering with the Red Cross in 1941. In 1969, she became the first woman to sit on the national Board of Governors of the American Red Cross, family members said. She also had served as chairwoman of the board of the Baltimore chapter of the American Red Cross in 1970.

She was also a member of the founding board in the 1960s of Greater Baltimore Medical Center.

An award-winning flower arranger and gardener, Mrs. Williamson was a member of the Cliff Dwellers Garden Club of Baltimore. She had been an editor of Garden News, published by the Federated Garden Clubs of Maryland.

"Flowers were her life. When she was a student at Notre Dame Prep, she spent her weekly allowance buying fresh flowers for her room," said daughter Carol W. Hylton of Bolton Hill.

"Her favorite color was yellow -- sunshine -- and she always had several flower arrangements all over the house," her daughter said.

After moving to Roland Park Place in 1994, Mrs. Williamson served as a member of the retirement community's long-range planning committee and was president of the resident's association for two years.

She enjoyed spending time at a second home in Bethany Beach, Del., visiting art museums and gourmet cooking.

Mrs. Williamson was a member of Roland Park Presbyterian Church, 4801 Roland Ave., where a memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. today.

In addition to her daughter, she is survived by a son, John S. Williamson of Easton, Pa.; another daughter, Lane B. Williamson of Peaks Island, Maine; six grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.

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