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Barbara Lucy Nicoara J.D. ’71 was born on Aug. 3, 1935, in Detroit, Michigan, and married John Nicoara in 1956 during her senior year at the University of Michigan. They welcomed her first child, Joe, in 1957. John’s career took their young family to San Diego, California, Denver, Colorado, and finally to his job at Lockheed in Sunnyvale in 1962. By 1964, the family had grown with the arrival of James, Peter, and Anne Marie.
Barbara graduated from SCU with a law degree by attending night classes while raising her four children as a single parent. She practiced family and criminal law and gained valuable political experience while running political campaigns in San Jose. She inevitably came to the attention of California Assemblywoman Leona Egland and was hired to run Leona’s San Jose office. Eventually, the County of Santa Clara hired Barbara to work in labor relations and negotiating labor contracts. She retired in 1985 and began a private consulting business.
In 1975, Barbara found a kindred spirit in George Lewis, who shared her love of civic engagement. Their first date was to a very romantic SMACNA (Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors National Association!) event. George and Barbara were married in 1977, bringing George’s two sons, David and Tim, into the fold. While George was employed at MH Engineering in Hollister, he and Barbara purchased 40 pristine acres in Paicines, California, and for a time lived on the property in a trailer with their two dogs and cat while they built their home.
Living in the country did nothing to deter Barbara’s community involvement. She joined the Methodist Church and remained an active, contributing member for the rest of her life. She also was an active member of Chadeish Yameinu, a Jewish Renewal Community in Santa Cruz. In 1986 she was appointed to the San Benito County Arts Commission and became a founding member of the San Benito Oriana Chorale, an organization that still thrives. Over the course of her long and industrious community involvement, Barbara served on the Hazel Hawkins Hospital Foundation board and spearheaded its Northside Challenge Campaign, raising $762,000. She also served on the seniors’ council for Santa Cruz and San Benito Counties and the diabetes collaborative. In conjunction with her work on the collaborative, Barbara began “Fit for Kids,” a yoga program designed to promote exercise and good nutrition at Calaveras and R.O. Hardin elementary schools, which continues to serve hundreds of kids each year. She helped form a singing group, The Old Time Religion Singers, who for years performed monthly at county convalescent and retirement homes. In addition, she campaigned for walkability improvements in new commercial developments in Hollister.
In 2006, the San Benito County Chamber of Commerce awarded Barbara “Woman of the Year.” She had a fierce and omnivorous intellect, was courageous, and could disagree with someone without being disagreeable. She loved books, music, and trailer camping with George and their dogs. She was a loyal and steadfast friend and a beacon of hope and resolve to those lucky enough to have known her. After a long and meaningful life, Barbara died on June 14 at her home in Hollister. She is survived by her husband, George, their six children, 12 grandchildren, and a sister, Elizabeth Hackett, of Detroit Michigan.