Barbara Ashford Walsh, a former arts critic and reporter for The Buffalo Evening News, died Wednesday (Feb. 21, 2001) in Buffalo General Hospital after a long illness. She was 72.
She was the wife of longtime Buffalo attorney and Albany lobbyist J.B. Walsh and had been a volunteer in recent years for Millard Fillmore Hospital and Meals on Wheels.
As a theater and film critic as well as a general-assignment reporter for The News from 1959 to 1968, she was known for her clarity and wit.
"Barbara was a talented writer with a fine mind, a disarming sense of humor and a passion for journalism. I was privileged to have been a colleague," said George Borrelli, retired political writer for The News and a longtime close friend.
"It didn't take a second reading of a Barbara Ashford review to determine whether she thought a play or a movie was worth the price of admission," noted Bob Buyer, a retired reporter and farm writer for The News who, along with his wife, Sue, knew Mrs. Walsh for more than 40 years.
"She had a strong sense of ethics, wonderful old-fashioned values and a lot of grit and determination that kept her going when she was so ill," said Sue Buyer, also a former News reporter.
Though ill for the last several years, Mrs. Walsh traveled to England with her husband recently to see their daughter, Martha Condon Walsh of Lewes, East Sussex, admitted as a barrister to the bar.
Born and brought up in Washington, D.C., the former Barbara Lee Ashford attended Pembroke College, now merged with Brown University, in Providence, R.I., before working as a secretary at the U.S. Treasury Department in the District of Columbia.
She was also a secretary in television production at CBS in New York City before taking a writing position at Charm magazine, also in Manhattan. She joined The News as a reporter when Charm folded in 1959.
She worked cityside, covering everything from Kenmore Day at Crystal Beach to the courts, in time taking over the federal beat, and sharing her creative side with News readers through countless theater and film reviews.
Never one to take any guff, she was famous in the newsroom for once throwing a shoe at then-City Editor Bud Wacker.
"She was a perfectionist," her husband said. "She went through The News the rest of her life, making corrections."
Mrs. Walsh worked part time in the publicity department of Buffalo General Hospital before becoming a volunteer in the community. She liked to travel and also accompanied her husband to England in 1998 when their daughter was married to Richard Black of Lewes.
She loved going to the theater and to performances of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and was a voracious reader.
Married to Walsh for 34 years, she was a resident of Buffalo until 1992, when she and her husband moved to Eggertsville.
A Mass of Christian Burial at 10 a.m. Monday in St. Benedict's Catholic Church, 1317 Eggert Road at Main Street, Eggertsville, will follow prayers at 9:15 in Sauer-Lynett-Amigone Funeral Home, 1933 Kensington Ave., Cheektowaga.