In Memory of  Barbara Leve

Barbara Joyce Leve • May 14, 2020 • ביילא בת יוסף

Wife. Mother. Grandmother. Great-grandmother. 


A light went out when Barbara Joyce Leve passed away from Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 87.

In her presence, you stood in sunlight. She had empathy that was rare, insight that was uncanny, and was a consummate listener. This rare ability shaped those who knew her. You always felt nurtured in her presence.

Born in Chicago, Barbara, her older sister Bette, and their parents left “The Windy City” during WWII and headed for Los Angeles.  Moving into her grandfather’s hotel in Hollywood, Barbara manned the switchboard at eleven and became a keen observer of life. A latchkey kid since kindergarten, she was wise beyond her years and this shaped who she became – tough, tender, and street smart.

Walking up the brick walkway of her friend’s home at age 16, she heard the piano music of Rachmaninoff through an open window. She entered the house to meet the pianist, her future husband, Jerry Leve.

Jerry and Barbara were married in December of 1951. Each considered the other their “soulmate.” Jerry described their marriage as two separate oak trees with separate, sturdy roots whose branches intertwined. They raised two daughters, Caren and Julia.

After her daughters left for college, so did Barbara at age 40. While at Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles she found her gift and passion – writing. Graduating in 1981 with honors in Creative Writing, she went on to teach poetry in half-way homes for abused woman, in senior centers, in classes for children with special needs and in each of the schools her grandchildren attended. This was not only a highlight in her life but in her grandchildren’s lives. During the Los Angeles earthquake in 1994, Barbara hunkered down under the dining room table with an atlas and a flashlight. She drew the flashlight across a map of the United States and spotted a no-quake zone – North Carolina. Two years later, she and Jerry moved to Raleigh. She was joined by her daughter, Julia and her family. She lived in Raleigh for 17 years where she continued to teach poetry and became an active participant in the Osher Livelong Learning Institute.

Barbara loved movies, and dark chocolate. Her taste in music ran from Aretha Franklin, to Mahler, Odetta to John Dowland. Stopping by a bookstore was always a must, book groups, a necessity. She saw the world in CinemaScope, living fully, with joy and boatloads of humor.  She adored her life-long friends, and relished Thanksgivings and 4th of Julys with her family, because nothing meant more to her than being together. While she rests, her family will remember.

Barbara is survived by her devoted husband, Jerry, daughters Caren (Charlie) Gale, Julia (Mark z”l) Freifeld, grandchildren Jeremy Freifeld, Emily Kotecki, David Freifeld, Rebecca and Jonathan Gale and her great-grandchildren Noah and Elise Freifeld and Max and Maya Kotecki.

The Barbara Leve Memorial Fund has been established by ZABS Place to perpetuate her passion for teaching others to express themselves through writing.

Initiatives supported by the Barbara Leve Memorial Fund:

ZABS Place logo

A local organization dedicated to providing meaningful inclusive social opportunities for children and teens with special needs. By introducing these Special Friends to their typically developing peers, genuine friendships are formed and both gain.

ZABS Place logo

A thrift boutique, co-founded by Caren & Charlie Gale, that recognizes the abilities and talents of young adults with special needs and creates individualized training and employment opportunities to help prepare them for successful entry into the workforce based on their passions.

Memorial Messages

In memory of beautiful Barbara Leve. Always kind, caring and empathetic. She was very special and we feel fortunate to have known her.
May you find comfort in all your special memories.
With heartfelt sympathy,
Nancy, Dave & Michael S.



After knowing you for over fifty years as a friend, as a sister, a mother figure, a psychologist having a great sense of humor; most importantly as a fellow chocolate lover, even though you are not here physically you will be in my heart forever.
There is so much more to say, but I will share all of my wonderful memories of Barbara in the future.
Much love and condolences to the family.



Barbara was such a beautiful person and became such an important part of my life .I am so grateful for all the memories that i share with her and her family. I am so glad that her memory will live on in Zabs place



The life lessons Blinka taught me is something I’ll always cherish and remember her by. Also, that you can always have more than one See's chocolate candy. Miss you!!!




If legacies are measured by the impact the departed have on our lives - then Barbara’s legacy is huge!

I first met Barbara in the late 1960s when I was a teenager. With Caren, we would spend hours in their Westholme Avenue house sitting on plush burgundy sofa chairs, probing teen angst, with the grandfather clock ticking in the nearby living room. Time stopped when I was with Barbara. She listened intently, asked the right questions, and her comments were always thought provoking. Often at poignant moments, she might pause in mid-sentence to adjust the lighting in the room. With this adjustment, she created a more intimate and safe space. She was fully present, and so was I These conversations always led to invaluable insights and growth. She was masterful at uncovering truths while making you an active participant.

Barbara was a philosopher and humanitarian, and a fierce defender of the vulnerable.
She showed unwavering devotion to her family and friends, many of whom counted her as among their closest friends. Her personality was magnetic and her joy and laughter were contagious. I still smile, remembering how in a rising, melodious voice, she would call out "Jerr..." to her loving husband.
50 years later, I realize that Barbara helped craft the lens and compass that I have used to find my way, to shape my life. She taught me the value of probing, imagining, and openly embracing the many possibilities at every journey. Through many decades, she taught me the importance of empathy, profound reflection, and the steadfast devotion to what matters in life - to what truly feeds us.

She will always endure in my heart.

Barbara Henry

July 14, 2020



Dear Mom,

I miss you every day




May your mother's memories always be a blessing to you and your family. Her words and thoughts will live on forever both on paper and in the hearts of those of us who have had the honor to read them. Thank you for sharing her life with us.

Jodie and Michael


To everyone who's lives Barbara touched we send our deepest condolences.
She was a special woman, and we will remember her with only the fondest of memories.
Our hearts go out to each of her family members and her friends.
Debra, Jenna, and Caila



In memory of our dear friend, Barbara Leve. “Blinka”, we will always love and adore you.

Val, Jeff, Alicia & Emily Patterson



Rest In Peace Barbara! You were a special lady! My sincerest condolences to Jerry and Daughters. It was a special honor being in your presence and being allowed to participate in your care during your precious golden years. Andy



Barbara's beauty, humor, and joy will live on in all of those people who were lucky enough to know her.
With love and deepest sympathy.


Malloy Hanley

Dear Caren and family,
Thank you for sharing your mother with such loving and generous words. We only wish we could have known her. What an exceptional mother, loving wife, creative poet and friend to all.
Our heartfelt sympathy to you all on this profound loss.
With love,
Judi & Michael

Judith and Michael


In memory of Barbara Leve.

Susan F


We are so thankful to have known amazing and sparkling Barbara! We see best attributes living on through her most marvelous family.

Deb & John


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