By: Paige Burnett, Girl Scout volunteer
When asked to name someone who embodies the Girl Scout Promise and Law and overall ideals of our Movement, one name quickly came to mind. Barbara Stiles. Barbara, who passed away in June, was a lifelong Girl Scout. She was everything a Girl Scout should be – honest and fair, friendly and helpful, considering and caring, and so much more. It’s an honor to write about her Girl Scouts career and how she impacted our local Girl Scouts and council.
Barbara Stiles began her life career with Girl Scouts as a staff member with Girl Scouts of the USA staff and then later joined the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), where she worked in Japan to bring together American occupying forces and Japanese Girl Scout troops. She then spent 30 years serving all over the world as a Girl Scout. It was an amazing adventure and one she always spoke of fondly.
I was fortunate enough to first meet Barbara in the mid-90’s. I was planning a World Thinking Day meeting for my then Girl Scout Junior Troop #208 when another volunteer, Barbara Schliebe, suggest I call Barbara and see if she would be interested in participating. Barbara had been on the International Committee and was instrumental in the planning and building of Our Cabaña in Mexico, a program that allows members to explore Mexico and its cultures and traditions.
Barbara graciously agreed to come to our meeting, and arrived with a bag full of international “swaps” acquired over a long career as a professional Girl Scout. She held the Girl Scout Juniors’ rapt attention talking about her world adventures in Girl Scouting and finished by asking the girls questions about WAGGGS and Girl Scouts — any girl that tried to answer was rewarded with a pin or a patch or a swap. The adults in the room were hard pressed not to waggle their own hands in hopes of a chance to be similarly rewarded. It was such a fun experience and a special memory we all carry with us.
I have had the privilege of maintaining a friendship with both Barbara and her twin sister over the last twenty years. The twins have shared a house on Gimghoul Rd in Chapel Hill for nearly 40 years. Their spring garden, identified by “The Garden is Open” sign in their front yard, has become well known near and far over the last 25 years – Girl Scout troops were especially welcome. They were always eager to learn of what the girls were doing and where they were traveling with Girl Scouts. Bernice and Barbara loved a Trefoil cookie, and more recently, Lemonades!
It is hard to be sad at the finish of such a long life, well lived. Barbara will forever be remembered as a generous and gracious Girl Scout who always made time for others. I am proud to have been her Girl Scout sister and her friend.
I am eager to celebrate Barbara Stiles and reminisce once again on this incredible Girl Scout at a public memorial this fall. In the meantime, as her family requested in her memorial, I will be making a donation in her honor to the World Foundation for Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, Inc., in the Interest of Our Cabana and Kusafiri. I hope you will join me.