Life After Tappan Zee

Barbara Koether
1957 Graduation Picture
Recent Picture

I was born in Nyack and attended Nyack Elementary School through 6th grade.  My parents owned and operated Clements, a bar and grill on Main Street.  I have wonderful memories of growing up in Nyack and still get together with my girlhood friend Nina who now lives in Payson, AZ.  She and I have been friends since we were seven years old.  The summer between 6th and 7th grade we moved to Sparkill.  My parents had bought an old, long-empty three-story house which they converted into a restaurant and inn naming it “Schober Inn” after my mother’s mother, Barbara Schober.  Bob Crable was the first “kid” I met that summer.  His curiosity must have gotten the better of him and he’d come down to say hello and find out what was happening to that old house.  I commuted to Nyack High School in 7th grade.  However, the following year I attended Sparkill grammar school.  That’s when I became friends with Helen Danner and Lucy Bosco.  Some of you must remember singing “I Believe” at 8th grade graduation.

Looking back, it seems those four years at TZ flew by.  I always liked the location of the school high up over the Hudson River.  I flew back to New York in 2001 and, although I knew the school was no longer there, it was still a tremendous shock to look up the hill and see nothing. 

Memories come in a jumble mostly but here are a few recollections:

After graduation in ‘57, I attended Wells College in Aurora, New York, a small girls’ school in upstate New York about twenty some miles north of Cornell University on beautiful Cayuga Lake.  In August of ’59 I married Gurrie Rhoads, a Cornell graduate from Western Springs, Illinois, a suburb just west of Chicago.  I raised four children in Western Springs:  Cyndi born in ‘60, Geoff ’62, Laura ’65 and Bryan ’71.  My husband was in real estate and land development.  I worked for him for several years as his office manager/secretary/bookkeeper.  In the early 80’s I worked for an outplacement firm in Oak Brook, Illinois delivering two and three day seminars and setting up job resource centers.  I was divorced in ’86.  By the early 90’s I had my real estate license and was an agent for a real estate company in Western Springs.

I moved to Portland, Oregon in ’94 to be near my son Geoff, his wife and their children.  That year I became the administrative assistant to the Religious Education Director for the First Unitarian Church of Portland.  Close to 500 children from nursery to high school age were enrolled in our program.  Those were great years.  Moving to the Great Pacific Northwest was one of the best things I ever did.  I loved my job, loved the mountains and trees and water, loved being with my grandchildren, made great new friends and met John Magee.  John introduced me to the outdoor life.  He and I have traveled up and down the west coast, wilderness camped in British Columbia on Kootenay Lake, camped and biked on the San Juan Islands, on Vancouver Island, in the Cascades, in Idaho and on and on.  I bought an old 1910 house in NE Portland and spent 5 years renovating it with John’s help.  In 2000 he and I moved to West Linn, Oregon just south of Portland to what had once been a cattle ranch up in the hills overlooking the Wilamette River.  The original sign “Tall Fir Ranch” still hung from one of the giant fir trees.  Sounds fancy, but wasn’t.  Another old house to fix up and overgrown fields to clear and mow.

In April, 2004, John and I moved to Sequim (pronounced Skwim), Washington, located on the North Olympic Peninsula along the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  This is about as far northwest as one can go and still be in the continental U.S.  Truly beautiful here and so much to do.  When you live in the Northwest, you spend a lot of time outdoors.  If there is a bit of drizzle, sometimes more than a bit, we ignore it.  John’s an avid golfer, enjoys fishing, music and books and I fill my time with biking, gardening, reading, art projects and volunteering at the local hospital guild thrift store.  We are garage sale junkies and thrift store aficionados.  As I write this (October 2005), I have started a part-time job as personal assistant to the broker of a small real estate firm here in Sequim. 

My children and seven grandchildren are an important part of my life.  Four of my grandchildren live in Portland.  My son Geoff and his wife Nicole have a daughter Taylor born in ’86, currently a sophomore at the University of Oregon, and two boys Trevor, ’88, and Hugo ’94.  My son Bryan and his wife Shannon just had their first child, Holland Abigail born this year, February 2005.  My other three grandchildren live in Phoenix with my daughter Laura and her husband Craig Mikkelson:  two boys Rhoads, ’91 and Josh, ’93 and a daughter Romley, ’97.  In addition to my seven, John has four grandchildren living in the Philadelphia area.

Seems like most of my fellow TZ’ers have stayed on the east coast, but perhaps there might be a few who have braved heading west.  I’d love to hear from any of you no matter where you may have landed.  And, by the way, everyone calls me Bobbie now.  When I hear “Barbara”, I know it is a voice from “the past”….

Contact Information


Snail-Mail: Barbara Koether Rhoads, 630 W. Minstrel Rd., Sequim, WA 98382

Phone: (360) 683-3827