Barbara Byrd Fordham passed away peacefully, surrounded by family on March 6, 2018 at Carolina Meadows. The loving wife of Chancellor Emeritus Christopher C. Fordham, III, Barbara was born in Bluefield, West Virginia on December 28, 1927. Her family relocated to Greensboro where she attended the Curry School and transferred to Grimsley High School. She went to Woman’s College of UNC. She was an active member of the West Market Street Methodist Church where she met her future husband, Chris.
Barbara and Chris married on August 16, 1947. They spent time in Boston while Chris attended Harvard Medical School and settled in Chapel Hill where he began his medical career. Barbara was an active volunteer at UNC Hospitals, The Chapel Hill Ronald McDonald House, and a member of many other charitable organizations.
The three loves of her life were her husband, her family and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Barbara taught her whole family so much about how to live. She was full of life, spirit and positive energy. An amazing storyteller, she could keep you spellbound with a travel adventure or a lesson about the birds on her back porch. She always had an encouraging word for all she met, and when she spoke to you, she made you feel like the most important person in the room. Her beautiful spirit carried through in her final days when she spoke often of the “miraculous life” she had lived.
Barbara was the embodiment of the Tar Heel Spirit. From Woolen Gym to the Dean Dome, from New Orleans to Hawaii, you could hear her singing “I’m a Tarheel Born”. Her enthusiasm and love for the University was infectious and has been passed on to generations of Fordham Carolina Tarheels.
While she was a fun-loving spirit she was also a thoughtful and empathic person with deep concerns about poverty, the environment and fairness in education. She and Chris shared a passion for diversity and equality in education for health care professionals and together founded the Fordham Fund for Diversity in Health Professions.
As the wife of the Dean of the Medical School, and the Chancellor’s wife, Barbara represented the University with pride and dignity. She loved representing Carolina and the friends she made were her Carolina Family. Her service to the University was honored in 2012 with the Davie Award, and in 1984 with the UNC Alumnae Association Distinguished Service Award.
She is survived by her loving sister; Evelyn Byrd Garrison of Greensboro, her three daughters; Pamela Fordham Richey of Chapel Hill, Susan Fordham Crowell and her husband, James Crowell of Myersville, Maryland, and Betsy Fordham Templeton and her husband Michael Maloney of Durham, NC, as well as 6 grandchildren, 7 great-grandchildren and many greatly loved nieces and nephews. Her husband Christopher C. Fordham, III, their son Christopher Fordham, IV, and great-grandson John Fordham Furman precedes Barbara in death.
The family wishes to express their heartfelt gratitude to the staff at The Pines at Carolina Meadows for their incredible love and care over the past few months. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations can be made to the Fordham Diversity in Health Care Fund through the Medical Foundation of North Carolina, Inc. 123 West Franklin Street, Suite 501, Chapel Hill, NC 27516 or to the National MS Society, P.O. Box 4527, New York, NY 10163.
The family will be receiving visitors on Sunday, March 11th at the Carolina Club from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm. A memorial service is planned for 2 pm on Monday, March 12 at University Methodist Church.