Barbara DiBernard, daughter of Josephine (Esposito) DiBernard and Vincent DiBernard, was born in Dover, NJ. Her grandparents Anna (Togano) DiBernard and Cesario DiBernard, and Incarnata (Ceddia) Esposito and Luigi Esposito, all immigrated from southern Italy, and Barbara was very proud of her Italian heritage (manifested mostly through food, including her signature baked ziti and Christmas cookies). She left this life on September 19, 2023.
She graduated from Wilson College and SUNY Binghamton and spent her adult life as a teacher at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, an identity that was very important to her. In a life-changing event, she was asked to teach women’s literature, and spent the rest of her career teaching women’s literature and lesbian literature through the Women’s & Gender Studies Program.
Barbara and Judith Gibson became life partners in 1988 and married on June 15, 2015, the day the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage. They had a wonderful life in their accessible light-filled home designed and built by Lee Schriever, hosting many gatherings, watching birds, with flowers blooming inside and outside all year long.
Barbara was also a traveler, drawn mostly to oceans and birds. She and Judith visited the sandhill cranes every year, and birded in the Nebraska Sandhills, South Carolina, Arizona, and New Mexico, as well as locally. Some of Barbara’s most memorable trips were to Baja, Alaska, Midway Atoll, Belize, and Micronesia.
Her lesbian identity was also central to Barbara’s life and work. She was active in lesbian politics and found a spiritual home at the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival.
Barbara has an extended circle of friends, including many former students. She is survived by her spouse Judith Gibson; her daughter Sarah Gibson; her sister Joan Stopa; her niece Lauren Stopa Fitzpatrick (Kevin) and great-niece Nora Fitzpatrick; her niece Stefanie Stopa Marchetti (Tony), and great-niece and nephew Sarah and Josh Marchetti; and her nephew Justin Stopa.
Much appreciation goes to HoriSun Hospice nurses and others who provided warm and generous care to Barbara and her family.
Barbara requested cremation. There will be no services.
Memorial gifts may be sent to ACLU Nebraska, the Lesbian Herstory Archives, or the UNL Women’s & Gender Studies Program.
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