Gladys Freund Barker

May 7, 1917May 11, 2018

Gladys Freund Barker passed away on May 11, 2018, at home at the age of 101. Her great grandparents had settled in St. Louis in the 1850’s and established the Freund Baking Company.

Her childhood was glorious surrounded by the large Freund Baking Company family. With her siblings and cousins she cherished trips to Soulard Market with her grandfather or to the bakery for a taste of warm rye bread fresh from an oven.

After graduation from Soldan High School, she completed a degree in art and fashion design from Washington University. She used her creativity designing clothing for leading department stores. She returned to Washington University and completed a master’s degree in occupational therapy. She interned at a psychiatric hospital in Illinois then returned to St. Louis where she met and married Irv, her husband of 55 years. Gladys was a fantastic homemaker and mother for 3 sons. She was the Cub Scout den mother, Flynn Park Elementary School parade float designer, and charitable carnival organizer.

After her 3 sons left for college and beyond, she completed a refresher course, in Occupational Therapy at Lindenwood University and began a career at the Truman Restorative Center caring for the elderly poor. She was an early theorist of the concept that mental health could influence behavior as much as physical illness. She helped develop projects for elderly patients that built on their past expertise and helped ensure they maintained a purpose.

She tirelessly continued to organize fundraisers, serving on volunteer boards including Jewish Hospital, Rehabilitation Center of St. Louis, and the Miriam Lodge (Past-President, 80 year member) and Miriam School. She helped inaugurate the Miriam fund raising estate sales and Switching Post resale store.

After retiring from her career in 1982, she found her calling in OASIS, a national model with activities for older adults. She led for 20 years “Contemporary Issues,” a lecture and discussion forum attended by over 100 participants. She recruited a broad spectrum of provocative, sometimes controversial, personalities from politics, the news media, and the arts. Marylen Mann, OASIS chair, has said “No one says no to Gladys.” To further illustrate her passion for knowledge and sharing of information, she attended the “Current Events Crossfire” weekly group at Washington University’s Lifelong Learning Institute for over 25 years.

Among her many civic accolades was a Woman of Worth award from the Gateway Chapter of OWL in 2007, a Remarkable Older Adult honoree from St. Andrews Resource Senior system in 2009, and the inaugural Alumni Achievement Award in Occupational Therapy from Washington University.

Her extended family always came first as she planned and prepared many holiday dinners. She organized and was part of over 19 multigenerational vacations in the U.S., Mexico, England, and South Africa.

At age 97, she took up oil and water color painting, first with recreating fashion designs and later clever portraits of family members that she shared at the Gatesworth art shows.

Gladys was the beloved wife of her late husband, Irven; sister of late brother, Harold (Harriet) and late sister, Estelle (Bernard). She is survived by 3 sons, Alan (Julie), Peter (Jeri), Larry; grandchildren: Sara (Jason), Dan (Jhilam), David (Kylie), Melanie (Matt); great grandchildren: Colin, Julia, Avi, Zoey, and many devoted nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be sent to the Miriam Foundation, OASIS, or Lifelong Learning Institute at Washington University.


No services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.

Gladys Freund Barker

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julie charles

June 13, 2018

I remember Gladys from many years ago. My siblings, my cousins and I attended Flynn Park (Schwabs and Hamburgs) so perhaps that is why I remember her.
But more recently, I was able to speak with her at the Gatesworth, where my parents lived for approximately the last 5 years. I was amazed at her talent for art!!! What an inspiration to know that undiscovered talents can be found late in life!! And now that I read her obit, I’m again so impressed with her charitable work and her attention to the current events of the world! (Miriam school is dear to my heart since I have a grand daughter attending)
What a woman!! I know she will be dearly missed.
Julie Schwab Charles

gloria thomas

May 14, 2018

I am a member of Miriam. Gladys was MIRIAM!! So sad to learn of her passing, I saw her on her hundred birthday at a Miriam luncheon and she was fabulous as usual. I was a volunteer for the Estate sales and was the silver polishing person. My deepest condolences.

Gloria Thomas

Jerry Meyers

May 13, 2018

My family and I offer our deepest sympathies on the passing of Mrs . Barker.
After knowing her and her family for more than fifty years, I am aware of the
Impact she had on so many lives. You were lucky to have had her for 101+
Years as a gracious and kind matriarch to your family.

Jerry Meyers