On the sunniest part of the day Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, Barbara Erickson, 42, slipped through the bonds of earth to the eternal joy and glory of Heaven surrounded by her “trio of light," her partner in life, Peter Torrebiarte, and their two children, Lucia Torrebiarte and Marcelo Torrebiarte, after living four years with a rare cancer of the appendix.
Born to Arnold and Dixie (Hutton) Erickson in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, Barbara lived a carefree, fun-filled childhood in Gillette. Born an inquisitive and highly social personality, Barbara was always most comfortable in the company of others.
A graduate of Campbell County High School, she didn’t waste time expanding her horizons on a much larger scale. Barbara enjoyed her independence and loved to travel. With her quick wit, easy laugh and never-met-a-stranger persona, she acquired many friends along the way.
Northern Arizona University was next on Barbara’s agenda, receiving a BA in English. But her love for nonprofit work was soon born, supporting some of the most visible, including the American Cancer Society and Boys & Girls Clubs before serving as an executive of the largest children’s charity in the world, Save the Children, and joining the nation’s first conservation charity, The Trustees of Reservations, as its first female president in 2012.
She was most proud of growing the scope and scale of the charity’s work, more than doubling its size in less than 10 years, making it one of the 10 largest charities in the state of Massachusetts by assets, focusing its work on where people live, including an attention on growing impact in Boston.
Barbara was awarded the distinguished Elizabeth Craig Weaver Proctor Medal by the Garden Club of America in 2017, named Conservationist of the Year by Northshore Magazine in 2017 and was named in the Commonwealth Institute’s Annual Top 100 Women-Led Businesses in Massachusetts survey for seven consecutive years. Barbara received an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities from Westfield State University for her work to advance women leadership in the environment.
It was Barbara’s love of travel and culture that introduced her to Peter Torrebiarte, a soul she was blessed to spend 12 years with and ultimately it was with her family they created that we saw her at her most joyful and content. Barbara met many celebrities and notable figures in her short life, and yet none were as interesting to her as a Friday night with Peter and her children, Lucia and Marcelo.
Barbara was generous with her knowledge, generous with her friendships and generous with her time. It was not uncommon to see Barbara’s picture and featured articles in the likes of the Boston Globe. Enjoying fashion the way she did, Barbara demanded the attention of the room with her bold entrance and addictive personality. Her speeches were always heartfelt and captivating. She had a passion for female leadership and exuded self-confidence.
She found immeasurable joy in the title of "mama." Lucia taught her great empathy and adored Marcelo’s mathematical talents. Marcelo requested she return as rain and Lucia, the stars. Should you see a red cardinal perched outside your window, know that her spirit is there to inspire the masses of her love for nature.
Barbara was an avid reader, could remember strange facts and valued wit and human decency. She truly lived her life always and we saw her seize all kinds of moments despite numerous chemotherapies and surgeries, including climbing Machu Picchu in her third year of cancer. Nature, specifically the coast, brought enormous healing and peace to Barbara throughout her life. Her sly smile would return when on the sand or in the water.
Barbara was inspired through life and is survived by a wide circle of friends and family, including her partner in life, Peter Torrebiarte; their two children, Lucia Torrebiarte and Marcelo Torrebiarte; parents, Arnold and Dixie Erickson of Gillette; sister, Bonnie Jardee and her husband Ivan of Gillette; brother, Mark Erickson and his partner Lindsey of Rapid City, South Dakota; two step-children, Alejandro Torrebiarte and Gabriel Torrebiarte; her father-in-law, Luis Pedro Torrebiarte; sister-in-law, Ines Torrebiarte and her husband, Gustavo Bolanos; seven nieces and nephews; and the cutest pup to ever live, Rocket.
It is with great mention the impact her mother-in-law, Adela Torrebiarte, had on her life, who passed just before Barbara in December 2020.
The family has asked for private services to appropriately nurture Lucia and Marcelo; a larger gathering will take place at a later date.
The physical Barbara was in the peak of her career; therefore, in lieu of flowers, the family asks instead for contributions to the children's college funds directly to their 529c: https://go.fidelity.com/p5vap or https://go.fidelity.com/vdqtf (either link will go to both children).
This paid obituary was provided by family and friends.