Longtime Atlanta communications and event manager Barbara Buckley Washington had three passions: writing, sports and family.
Fresh out of college and drawing on two of those loves, Washington landed a job as the first African-American female high school sports editor for The Associated Press in Atlanta.
“She was a serious sports enthusiast,” said her daughter, college professor Lynn Michele Washington.
Barbara Washington graduated from Atlanta’s Spelman College with plans to pursue a career in journalism.
“But then she had family, and that kind of changed the trajectory,” Lynn Washington said.
Barbara Lynn Buckley Washington, a longtime Atlanta communications and event manager, former Associated Press reporter and editor, and proud mother of four, died Aug. 9 in a single-car crash. She was on I-20 near Meridian, Miss., where she was caring for family.
She was 67.
A Celebration of Life service will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at Calvary U.M. Church, 1471 Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard, Atlanta. Interment will be in Westview Cemetery.
Born in Greenville, Miss., Washington graduated in 1968 from a high school in Jackson, Miss., where her father was principal. She moved to Atlanta to attend Spelman College and never left.
At Spelman, she worked on the college newspaper and was a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. She graduated with her degree in English in 1972, a year after marrying Michael Washington, a student at Morehouse College.
She spent the next four years with The Associated Press, working as a broadcast editor and high school football editor and writing pieces on Hubert Humphrey, Ted Kennedy, Hank Aaron and Rene Powell, the first African-American to golf on the PGA circuit.
A prolific writer, she went on to work more than 30 years in communications for Georgia Power Co., Fulton County and Morris Brown College and other organizations. She also worked in some political campaigns and was caregiver to her parents and two aunts.
Alexis Scott and Washington met in the 1970s when both were young reporters – Scott with The Atlanta Constitution and Washington for the Associated Press.
“Those were the early days of desegregation of newsrooms,” said Scott, a political commentator and former publisher of the Atlanta Daily World, “so, whenever you met another black reporter, you knew you had a friend because there were so few of us back then.”
As both women’s careers progressed, the two “became cheerleaders for each other,” Scott said.
Washington had a great sense of humor and was “smart and easy to talk to,” she said.
Sheryl Riley Gripper, a 29-year veteran of Atlanta TV, says her lifelong friend and former Spelman College roommate was “eclectic.”
“I don’t know of another individual like Barbara, who knew so much about so many things,” she said.
Gripper said she was “in awe” when Washington was hired by the Associated Press as a high school sports editor.
Washington was a true football fan, and the two women attended many Atlanta Falcons’ games together in the 1970s and 1980s, Gripper said.
“She could tell you every Falcon who had entered the National Football Hall of Fame and who should have gotten in,” she said.
Daughter Lynn said Washington was supportive of all her children’s endeavors, big or small.
“She was always there front and center, taking pictures,” Lynn Washington said.
She said she found 25 copies of her high school graduation program tucked away in her mother’s storage unit.
“She was very proud of us, and she pushed us to be the best at whatever we were doing.”
Washington’s survivors include her children, Dr. Lynn Michelle Washington, Celia Roxanne Buckley Washington Cherry (Christopher), Arthur Michael Washington, Jr., and Telique Elijah Morris; and brother Benjamin Buckley (Aledria).
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