Published: Aug 12, 2012 12:05 AM
Modified: Aug 12, 2012 12:05 AM
Elaine Elizabeth Friedmann Barney passed away in the morning of July 24, 2012, after a long illness.
Elaine was born on September 19, 1944, at the Lying-In Hospital in New York City, the same hospital where she gave birth to Kristina, her first child, on September 22, 1969. Of German-Irish descent, she spent her early childhood in the Bronx before her parents, Frank and Nellie (Mohalley) Friedmann, moved the family to Brewster, New York, in 1952. A New York State Regents Scholarship and a Cornell University Dyson Foundation Fellowship awarded in 1962 enabled Elaine to embark on a five-year program, the first two of which were spent at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and the last three in New York City at the Cornell University-New York Hospital School of Nursing that culminated in a Bachelor of Science in Nursing with distinction in 1967. Following her marriage on June 10, 1967, to William L. Barney, Elaine worked for two years as a public health nurse in the schools of Harlem in New York.
After residences in Cold Spring, New York, Ewing, New Jersey, and Richboro, Pennsylvania, Elaine and her family put down roots in North Carolina in 1975 when her husband joined the history faculty at UNC-Chapel Hill. Her son Jeremy had come along in 1973, and when her two children were both enrolled in school, Elaine’s passionate interest in health issues related to women drew her into volunteer work as a crisis counselor for Switchboard in Chapel Hill from 1976-1978. In 1979 she became Director of the Women’s Health Counseling Service, a position that left her convinced more than ever that she wanted to pursue a career in clinical social work. Assisted with a North Carolina Society for Clinical Social Work Scholarship, she graduated with a Master of Social Work from the UNC School of Social Work in 1984. Soon after graduation, she accepted a position in Adult Services at the Randolph County Mental Health Center in Asheboro. Within a year she joined Student Psychological Services at UNC-Chapel Hill. In addition to her clinical responsibilities and co-leading short-term therapy groups, she served on numerous university committees and as a liaison for the Orange County Rape Crisis Center and the Orange-Durham Coalition for Battered Women and a leader of training sessions for their volunteer staff. She also was an Adjunct Instructor in the Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, UNC-Chapel Hill. All the while, she maintained a private practice in screening, assessing, and treating individual clients in long-term psychotherapy.
Elaine resigned from Student Psychological Services in 1996 in the aftermath of the massive destruction wrought on her home by Hurricane Fran and the near-death experience she underwent on the night of that terrible storm. She needed time to cope with the mind-numbing details of rebuilding and adjusting to living in a series of temporary rental units. She returned to work in 1998 when she was hired as Associate Director for Clinical Programs by the Orange County Women’s Center, an organization that itself marked the fruition of Elaine’s pioneering efforts in establishing the Women’s Health Counseling Service in the late 1970s. Her last employment was with the UNC School of Social Work as a field supervisor of student interns in various local mental health agencies.
Elaine was a loving, caring person who spoiled her family with her cooking. She enjoyed traveling, hiking, searching for wildflowers, music, especially from the 1950s and 60s, and was never happier than when dancing. Her empathy for others and infectious humor remained with her until the end. All who knew her remarked on her intellectual drive, her passionate caring for others, and her ability to retain faith in the best side of human nature despite working in a professional field that exposed her, at times daily, to the worst side of that nature as she offered help to victims of rape, incest, domestic abuse, and broken families as well as those struggling with alcohol and other drug-related issues. Somehow she never stopped caring.
This gentle soul is survived by her husband, Bill; daughter, Kristina; son, Jeremy; sisters, Regina Shute and Barbara Drollette, and a loving extended family. All of her closest family invite you to join with them in a remembrance ceremony for Elaine which will be held on Saturday, September 8, 2012, at 3 o’clock at the Barn at Valhalla off Highway 54 West, Chapel Hill, with a reception immediately following. Please bring memories to share.
In lieu of flowers the family asks that donations be made to your local Planned Parenthood chapter or to your favorite charity.
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