News obit: Barbara Keleher, first woman elected to Asheville City Council

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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Barbara Keleher, the first woman elected to Asheville  City Council, died Jan. 13. She was 93.

Keleher was elected to City Council in 1969. She was known for her community involvement, especially with the Asheville Art Museum.

From the Asheville Citizen-Times obituary:

Barbara’s contributions to the arts community of Asheville are well-known. She was a strong supporter of the Asheville Art Museum in its infancy as it moved from Charlotte Street to Pearson Drive to the Civic Center lower level. Barbara served on the Museum’s board on and off from 1972 through 1995, and as chair, she worked tirelessly toward the permanent location of today’s Art Museum on Pack Square.

Barbara and Mike spent many years getting to know emerging artists and their work and developed an eclectic collection of regional crafts, particularly Studio Glass. Many of these works help define glass in Western North Carolina. The collection was recently donated to the Asheville Art Museum, and will be included in the upcoming Fire on the Mountain, a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Studio Glass Movement and the glass artists of Western North Carolina.

As the first woman elected to the Asheville City Council (1969), Barbara Keleher helped usher in a spirit of bipartisanship culminating in Asheville’s being selected an All-American City in 1970. She believed that “nothing is insolvable if people work together.” Perhaps that was why she was asked to serve on so many boards: Office of Economic Opportunity, Civic Center Commission, Asheville-Buncombe Charter Commission, American Red Cross, Buncombe County Medical Auxiliary, and Southern Highland Craft Guild’s Advisory Council on which she served from the mid-80s until 1991.

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

  • 1

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  1. Foto Jennic January 18, 2012

    She sounds like she was a really great lady.

  2. cricket January 17, 2012

    My wife and I knew Barbara, and will miss her very much. She was a truly wonderful person and a joy to know.


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