In Remembrance: Barbara Coffey Gubelman ’51MA Died on January 30 2023

Barbara Louise Coffey Gubelman, 96, died peacefully on Monday, January 30, 2023, at her home in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of midtown Manhattan, where she had lived since 2007. 

Barbara was born on December 8, 1926, in Passaic, New Jersey, where she attended the Collegiate School. She earned her BA in English from Bryn Mawr College in 1948 and her master’s in history from Yale University in 1951.

Barbara’s life was defined by an unwavering commitment to helping others and fostering a love of learning and education. She dedicated her career to the field of education. She possessed a rare ability to ignite curiosity and inspire students to reach their full potential. Blessed with a quick wit, she also made learning fun. With her infectious enthusiasm, she promoted a love for learning in her students and her family. Barbara also shared her love of the arts, whether culinary, literary, visual, or performing, with everyone in her life.  She often showed her love by cooking for others or exposing them to art.

In her early years and throughout her life, Barbara worked in her family’s travel agency, Rizsak Travel Bureau in Passaic, New Jersey, which enabled her to travel the world, immersing herself in cultures across the globe. Barbara was multilingual—fluent in English, Hungarian, French, Russian, and Latin.  Her love of other cultures and languages led her to volunteer at International House in New York City, an organization that fosters cross-cultural connections, a respect for differences, and empathy for others.

Barbara met her husband, Oscar Louis Gubelman, at International House and they were married in 1958. They moved to Southern Rhodesia in that same year, where they leased a tobacco farm and managed it until they left in 1964. While in Rhodesia, the couple welcomed into the world their daughter Helena Hilary Gubelman in 1960 and Ronald John Gubelman in 1962. Barbara and Oscar imparted a great love of Africa to their children and friends through photographs and stories of their time there.

Upon returning to the US, they moved to Plainfield, New Jersey, and subsequently divorced. As a newly single mother of two young children, Barbara turned to her love of education and began working as a teacher and librarian at the Wardlaw-Hartridge School in Edison, New Jersey. She taught English, historyLatin, and French and coached the girls’ field hockey and cheerleading squads. In keeping with her strong belief in the importance of education, Barbara supported Yale by interviewing prospective students for admission.

After her retirement, Barbara moved to Village Care at 46 & Tenth in Hell’s Kitchen to be near the arts she so dearly loved. At Village Care she served for many years as the president of the Tenants Association.

Barbara always loved her time with family and visited Seattle often to spend time with her son, his wife and especially her grandchildren. She was a loving, caring, supportive, patient and forgiving mother, grandmother and friend.

Barbara leaves behind her daughter Helena and son-in-law John Pappas of Forest Hills, New York, and their son Demetrius of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida; her son Ronald and daughter-in-law Mary Warren Gubelman of Burien, Washington, and their son Samuel Gubelman of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and daughter Veronica Gubelman of Seattle, Washington; and her children’s sister Leslie Katheryn Gubelman of Ajijic, Mexico.

Donations in Barbara’s memory may be made to a scholarship fund of your choice.

—Submitted by the family.

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