Barbara G. Bisset

[ Age 92 ] Manchester resident mentored young women and offered them spiritual counseling at River Valley Ranch

November 06, 2006|By Chris Emery | Chris Emery,sun reporter

Barbara G. Bisset, who helped run a youth camp that mixed religious teachings with horsemanship, died of congestive heart failure Wednesday at her home in Manchester. She was 92.

She mentored young women for more than four decades at River Valley Ranch, a western-themed Christian camp in Carroll County that she founded in 1952 with her husband, John Bisset.

Known as "Mrs. B" to ranch visitors, she helped manage the camp and taught the dozens of girls who attended each summer about the Bible and offered them spiritual guidance.

"She shared her passion for the Lord with us and her passion for God's word," said Vicki Iseminger, a resident of Halethorpe in Baltimore County and longtime friend of Mrs. Bisset who first attended the camp when she was 15. "She also showed mercy when we needed to be set straight."

In addition to working at the camp, Mrs. Bisset led a women's Bible study group in Hanover, Pa., for nearly 30 years. "She was a spiritual giant in women's lives," Mrs. Iseminger said.

In 1972, Mrs. Bisset attended a two-week writing course in Chicago, but the ranch kept her too busy to pursue her ambition of writing books.

After she and her husband retired from active work at the ranch in 1995, she found time to produce an autobiography and two Christian-themed novels.

The first novel, a love story set during World War II, is titled You Live in My Heart. She completed the second novel - a Western titled Ducayne, Where's Your Gun? - at the age of 91.

Born Barbara Orange in Little Falls, N.J., she grew up in Paterson, N.J., and attended Practical Bible Training School in Binghamton, N.Y.

After marrying John Bisset in 1936, she moved to Pennsylvania, where he was a pastor.

The couple planned to travel to South America in 1943 to do missionary work but could not get passports during World War II. Instead, they moved to Baltimore in 1945, where her husband became pastor of Overlea Baptist Church. The couple moved to Carroll County seven years later to help found the River Valley Ranch.

Despite an initial fear of horses, Mrs. Bisset soon became enamored of the big animals and eventually developed into a proficient rider.

"It wasn't long before she was quite a horsewoman," said her son Thomas Bisset of Lutherville. "She rode until she was 82."

Her husband died in 2002.

In recent years, she enjoyed riding in Mrs. Iseminger's convertible while listening to Billy Graham music. "She loved the choir music and the convertible," her friend recalled.

Services were Saturday.

In addition to her son, she is survived by two other sons, Charles Bisset of Kaslo, British Columbia, and Stephen Bisset of Laurel; a daughter, Sharon Bisset of Millers; seven grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

chris.emery@baltsun.com

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