Barbara Jipson Matt died May 9, 2020, in Bettendorf, Iowa, after a long illness.
Barbara Jo Jipson was born in Oelwein, Iowa, on March 24, 1927, to Raymond and Clara (Stover) Jipson. As a result of Raymond’s work as a bank examiner, the family moved to Dubuque, IA and then settled more permanently in Elkader, IA. Barbara loved growing up in Elkader and playing with her brother Wayne along the banks of the Turkey River. From a young age, she was an avid reader and a gifted and creative writer, musician, and artist. As a child she also developed an early and abiding commitment to peace and social justice, which she carried through her life.
She attended the University of Iowa, from which she graduated in 1949, Phi Beta Kappa, with a degree in English. She was also part of the University’s Undergraduate Writers’ Workshop. She later took graduate courses at the University of Chicago.
She began her writing career as a reporter for the Clayton County Register. After college, she moved to Chicago, where she worked as a writer and editor for American Family Magazine, a writer and producer for the University of Illinois at Navy Pier’s educational TV shows on WTTW and WBBM, and a writer and editor for Science Research Associates. She also worked for the Downers Grove Public Schools and the College of DuPage.
In 1957, she met Joseph Matt, a research chemist, at a dinner of the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations. They married in 1961. They were avid photographers, and for 17 years showed their work at art fairs across the Midwest. Barbara also continued writing, working for years on a 700-page novel about race and religion in the 1960s, which is almost done.
In Chicago, Barbara embraced the excitement, diversity, and variety of the city, and particularly Hyde Park. She was an activist, marching for civil rights in the 1950s and 1960s, in anti-nuclear protests in the 1980s, and in protests against both Iraq wars in the 1990s and 2000s. She attended her last protest in her wheelchair, proudly holding a sign declaring “90-year-old for Science (It helped me reach this age).” She volunteered for countless political campaigns as well.
Barbara was a member of the Downers Grove Friends Meeting, AAUW, Jackson Park Camera Club, and many book groups. She attended the YMCA’s Silver Sneakers until she was 89.
She was preceded in death by her husband, parents, and brother, Wayne Jipson. She is survived by her daughters and their husbands, Elizabeth “Betsy” Matt Turner (Jonathan Turner) of Bettendorf and Susan Jipson Matt (Luke Fernandez) of Ogden, UT, and grandsons Alexander and Joshua of Bettendorf. The family would like to thank the amazing, compassionate staff of Iowa Masonic Health Facility for the care and comfort they provided Barb over the past 2 ½ years. Memorials in her honor may be made to the Downers Grove Friends Meeting or the Sierra Club. Condolences and contact info for an online memorial service may be left at wheelanpressly.com.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Barbara (Jipson) Matt, please visit our floral store.