Archive for Wednesday, December 8, 2004

Charity worker dies at 53

Barbara Reavis was key to county’s United Way, colleagues remember

December 8, 2004

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Barbara Reavis wasn't known for resting on her laurels. She will be remembered for her determination and humor.

The former director of the United Way of Douglas County and a board member for the Douglas County Community Foundation, Reavis died Monday night in a Topeka hospital from complications related to cancer. She was 53.

Those who knew her considered her one of the hardest-working and most compassionate people they ever encountered.

"She's just a really special person," said Sara Corless, director of the Douglas County Community Foundation. "She's very generous with her time and her talent."

Reavis most recently worked as a work force policy liaison for the Workforce Network of Kansas. Previously, she served as the executive director of the United Way of Douglas County from 1986 to 1998.

"No one has been more important to the growth and development of the United Way in Douglas County than Barb Reavis," said Jo Bryant, currently executive director of local United Way. "I always knew that Barb cared about what was going on with the United Way and in the community. She always cared."

During her time as executive director of the local United Way chapter, Reavis was instrumental in establishing an office area for the organization at 2518 Ridge Court. As a result, Reavis received a national award from the United Way of America.

Reavis also developed the Roger Hill Volunteer Center during her time as director.

She served as chairwoman of the organization's grants committee for the Douglas County Community Foundation. Reavis most recently headed a grass-roots campaign to create a fund to assist women in crisis. Known as the Fairy Godmother Fund, she came up with the idea of raising $100,000 to establish the fund by asking other women to each donate $100.

Judy Wright, a Reavis friend, said a core group of women pitched in, but Reavis was the leader and catalyst for the group.

At one point, Wright said she suggested renaming the Fairy Godmother Fund after Reavis.

"She would have none of it," Wright recalled. "I thought it made sense, but she was adamantly opposed to it. She was just very modest and humble."

Funeral services are pending.

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