Barbara Jean Hunt Homolka
Barbara Jean Hunt Homolka passed away peacefully on October 21, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Barbara was born on April 4, 1938 in Oneonta, New York to Harold “Hal” and Ruth Hunt. She graduated from Oneonta High School, and went on to earn her BA in English from University of Rochester (and was such a memorable student that her English professor still remembered her well 30 years later). She received her Masters in Education at State University College at Oneonta.
As her daughter Caroline says, Barbara lived enough life for three people. While teaching third grade in Corning, NY, Barbara met and married George A.J. Homolka. Following the birth of their first child, Leslie, the fledgling family moved to Troy, NY, in order for George to complete his Masters and PhD. Barbara and George started attending RPI’s Chapel and Cultural Center and eventually Barbara converted to Catholicism. This choice sustained Barbara throughout her life. While in Troy Barbara started a nursery school which is still in existence. Son David was born there as well as daughter Caroline. Alice followed soon after when the Homolkas moved to Houston.
In 1974, the Homolkas moved to Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. While in Arabia, Barbara raised her family, which now included Ann, working hard at being “The Meanest Mother on the Block.” In reality, she created a warm loving home where the door was always open to one more child, one more friend. She was active with the Dhahran Women’s Group and served as Cultural Committee Chair and the Welfare Chair, supporting organizations in Qatif, Beirut, Palestine, and Nepal. Following the first Gulf War, Barbara spent hours a day cleaning the oil and tar from birds and turtles in Jubail.
Living in Arabia opened up many travel opportunities. This was a passion for Barbara and she enjoyed working as a travel agent, planning for others as well as her family. No trip was taken without Barbara’s inner teacher shining through. A destination would be chosen and then the books started coming into the house; if Greece was the destination books about the land, islands, mythology, and food were read by everyone before the departure date. Barbara took several adventures on her own, including two trips to Kabul, Afghanistan in the late 70s. One summer spent in Oxford meant that Barbara was able to attend writer’s meetings in the same room that the Inklings met regularly. She was thrilled to be writing in the same place her favorite writers wrote.
Barbara was a lifelong Girl Scout, serving as a troop leader and district leader. She especially loved the yearly Big Camp Out. She was active in the RC groups in both Dhahran and Ras Tanura.
With the fall of the Iron Curtain and the end of the Gulf War, Barbara and George decided it was time for a new adventure, They retired from Aramco and moved to Czechoslovakia where they were able to reclaim the Homolka estate that George’s grandfather had purchased in 1908. Her Girl Scout skills came into good use over the next twenty-five years restoring the estate, starting various businesses, and farming. Barbara learned Czech and became a very active member of the International Women’s Group in Prague where she was a regular contributor to that group’s The Bridge magazine. Her columns can be read at MeanwhileBackAtTheZamek.blogspot.com.
Barbara welcomed guests from all over the world at Zamek Brezina. Her official title was Chatelaine (Keeper of the Keys) which she delighted in. She was an active parishioner and supporter of The Premonstrian Monastery at Zeliv. For many years she supported a sheltered workshop for mentally disabled people. She taught English as a second language and participated in a local English speaking group. George and Barbara hosted many large events at Brezina, the last one being their 50th Wedding Anniversary. During the celebratory mass in the family chapel, Barbara loved hearing her friends and family belt out her favorite hymn “Lord of the Dance.”
Barbara’s final years were spent in Philadelphia. While living in the US for the first time in over 40 years, she enjoyed being able to see lifelong friends and relatives on a regular basis.
Barbara was preceded in death by her loving husband George A. J. Homolka, and by her parents Hal and Ruth Hunt.
Barbara is survived by her brother James C. Hunt (Emmy); and her children Leslie Katherine Craigmyle; David Andrew Homolka (Milena); Caroline Homolka Masters (Tim); Alice Tate (Christian); and Ann Homolka Wright (Peter). She is also survived by eight grandchildren: Kristyna Katerina Homolkova, Charlotte Rose Tate, David Adam Homolka, Benjamin Hunt Masters, Margaret Delaney Tate, Samuel David Masters, Taylor Theresa Tate, and Robert Noah Wright. Additionally, she is survived by nieces Rebecca Clark Hunt (John Monroe), and Susannah Hunt; great-nephew Merrick and great-niece, Jhene; as well as special Bailey family cousins.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you remember our mom with a prayer, a mass in her honor, a donation to the St. Vincent De Paul Capital Campaign or a donation to Girl Scouts of America.