During the summer of 1930, Johnsye Ridley left the campus of Hampton University to travel north, visiting her older brother Julian in New York City. While in New York, she met a handsome young man named Algon Dudley Williams, who was also a college student at City College of New York. This chance encounter led to a beautiful courtship and ultimately, marriage. On August 7. 1932, the lovely young couple gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Ethelyn Barbara, named after her fraternal Jamaican grandmother, the first of their four children to this union. Barbara as everyone called her, was raised in Brooklyn New York by her loving parents who stressed the importance of education, spirituality, respect for family and love for humankind. Barbara carried these core values with her throughout her youth and entire life.
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Embracing her parents’ lessons and model of education, Barbara excelled within the New York City public school system. She followed her mother’s footsteps by graduating Hampton University.
Because Barbara was compassionate and wedded to her family, she recognized what financial burden would be placed on her parents to send four children to college. As such, she enlisted in the military to be self-reliant and dependent, ensuring her education would be paid for. Academi¬cally, she earned graduate degrees University of Maryland and George Washington University in Organizational Development, Leadership and Human Resources Administration while in the military.
During her journey in the military, Barbara was Identified as a leader and was sent to officer's training school. Officers training school was in the deep south and it was the first time she exposed to real racism at a lunch counter with her white classmates. It was here she was refused service and her classmates suggested she remove her shoes. As a sign of their frustration and resistance to this blatant racism, her classmates turned over the tables and grabbed her by the hand and all 10 of her classmates ran out of the facility back to the military base. This experience would forever remain a part of Barbara’s memory and they created within her, a resolve to use her education, skills and faith to become an agent for change in this country. Barbara had a deep rooted committed to do her part to make our society more just and equitable for everyone, particularly, people of color and women.
Barbara continued to embrace the teaching of her who taught that service and education were interconnected. She understood the value of being civically engaged and supporting those who are on the margins of society. Doing for others was simply the rent Barbara paid while living on earth. While Barbara’s health was failing, she had a determined spirit, with the support of her friends, to vote in the 2020 election as she wanted to create a better country for those who would come behind her.
She continued her military career and was promoted having assignments across the country. No matter where she was station, she remained committed to her family, always keeping close ties to her parents, three siblings and Jamaican grandmother. While stationed at Fort Hamilton in NY, she met Charles Waylon Wiggins of White Plains, who was serving as a captain. Bar¬bara and Charles fell in love and were married on October 11,1964. Following their marriage, the captains received a three year order of assignment in Orleans France, sailing to their new assignment on the Queen Elizabeth Two. Both Barbara and Charles became Lt. Colonels during their military career living in eight states and several countries in the Far East and Europe.
Charles served in Vietnam and Barbara served as the Adjutant at Fort Mead. After 20 years, they retired from the Military still young and ready to take on the world. The couple settled in Charles’ home of White Plains, a community they both loved. Barbara started in Commercial Credit Corporation and continued with that President to Travelers, Smith Barney and finally City Corporation achieving high level corporate positions. After 30 years of corporate work, she decided to retire and transition to community service. This easy for Barbara as she volunteered much of her time to important organizations whose mission mirrored her own. Barbara was an active member of the Zeta Nu Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, YWCA of White Plains Board of Directors and the Board of Directors for Lifting Up West Chester. Keeping spirituality as a central component to her life, she was an active member of Grace Episcopal in White Plains. Barbara was a cradle Episcopalian christened, confirmed and married at St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church Brooklyn NY.
Barbara was definitely a class act, very honest and direct; she would tell you what you needed to hear in a loving and compassionate manner. Barbara was relentless in sharing her time, talents and treasure. Her generosity transformed and impacted the lives of her siblings, nieces, nephews and family as well as many dear friends. She left the world much better than she found it. Four months ago, her beloved Charles, husband for fifty-six years, transitioned to his eternal rest. We believe they are now reunited and dancing into their 57th wedding anniversary in heaven.
She is predeceased by her husband Charles Wiggins, brother Algon Dudley Williams Jr and sister Wilma J. Shepard. She leaves to celebrate a beautiful and well-lived life with her sister Dr. Evelyn W. Castro, sister in law Bettie Williams, nieces and nephews Lani Shepard , Gavin Shepard, Debbie Shepard, Algon Dudley Williams, III, Angelyn Williams, Alexander Reyes Castro, Cynthia Castro, Joanne Williams, Antonio Castro, Nasse Castro, grand niece and nephew Alyssa Scheneman and John Lashley. Grand nephews and nieces AJ Castro, Jaeden Castro, Che Castro, Bianca Castro, Bryce Castro, Kyle Castro, Aaomi Castro, Trinity Castro, Justin Castro, Nicole Shepard, and Ava Shepard.
We thank God our creator for sharing Barbara with us for 88 years. While we will miss her, we pledge to continue to keep her name and work alive by serving humanity and promoting education.
ATTENTION: During this COVID-19 crisis, as we begin to phase back into small capacity public visitations/services amid the continued spike in illness, your help is needed in limiting and controlling the number of people allowed at services & protecting public health. There is a Limit of people allowed at the church, and the Church is AT CAPACITY ALREADY for her Memorial Service! This includes All the explicitly indicated family & All the church personnel, in addition to participating friends & organizations on the program. If you have not already Explicitly been told you are expected/allowed to attend, Please do NOT attempt to attend the Memorial Service. If invited/expected to attend, there is strict social distancing & restrictions the church has in place that must be followed as they specify. And there will not be access to all areas of the church. So please plan accordingly & please carefully follow all directions given on the day of services by the church. The Memorial Service will be LIVE STREAMED to Watch if you're not on the program to attend. Thank You in advance for following directions, so as to make all go smoothly on the day of the services, to eliminate further burden on the family, and to maintain the health & safety of all. All are appreciative of the majority of her numerous friends for respectfully refraining from attending; and for respecting & following any/all policies & laws if you're on the program/explicitly indicated to attend. Thank you so kindly!
NOTE: If explicitly designated to attend the very LIMITED Capacity Memorial Service on Saturday, December 12th, 2020, at Grace Episcopal Church, you MUST wear a mask in the church at all times. You may be asked to use hand sanitizer, & possibly have your temperature taken. The family will have a Register Book for you to sign in for their own record. You are encouraged to please bring & use your own pen for signing all. If you know you have a coronavirus/COVID-19; are sick/experiencing symptoms of coronavirus/COVID-19; are immuno-compromised, have health/other conditions that make your body more susceptible to illness, are under an imposed or advised quarantine, and/or are visiting from a state that requires you to quarantine upon entering NY for a designated amount of time before going out in public, please do NOT attend any services nor come to the church. Any questions, or if any clarity is needed, please call ahead to the family or church, and/or speak to them from a safe distance at the services. Please follow & abide by the directions of any/all the church workers at all times, for the health & safety of All. As private cremation services have already been held, NO flowers should be sent to the funeral home now. Instead, in LIEU of flowers, please see contribution info below. Thank You!
The Entire Staff of Lee's Funeral Home, LLC respects that the family of E. Barbara Wiggins entrusted the care of their loved one to us, and that they value the level of service & attention our funeral home provides. We are honored, in turn, to provide comfort, assistance and service to the family of E. Barbara Wiggins during their time of bereavement.
Please leave written and/or video condolences now herein on the Memory Wall to express your sorrow, share your memories, and as an expression of sympathy & way to communicate with/offer comfort to the family, that they and others may see, and may be a lasting tribute in her honor, whether you're invited to attend or not. Definitely Please SIGN IN on the Memory Wall as a virtual way of signing the register book if not designated/able to sign in person.
In LIEU of flowers, the family appreciates/kindly requests memorial donations be made in her honor/memory/name to: Grace Episcopal Church (address herein under Service Location); The Rose Foundation Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority; and/or Grace Soup Kitchen/Lifting Up Westchester (can be through donation tab/link here in website at the bottom of this page). If flowers are sent despite family request, small plants or vases are preferable, & may be delivered on Sat. December 12th, 2020 by/before 2:00PM, ONLY to Grace Episcopal Church. The Family Thanks You!