Barbara Leach Cummings sailed away, bound for glory, on 20 July 2017, at Hospice House of Williamsburg. She had a rigorous sixteen-month encounter with glioblastoma, a type of brain cancer.
She was born in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1948, the second child of Frank R. Leach, Jr., and Dorris Knebel Leach. After graduating from Princess Ann High School in Virginia Beach and a brief stint at ODU, she set off with her sister Nancy to Bermuda, in search of sun and adventure.
There she met Paul Johnson, a boat designer, sailor, and artist. Together they sailed for almost ten years: first on a 28-foot ketch; and later, a 42 foot, both named Venus. They shared a son, Magnus Spencer Johnson, born on Tortola, in 1973. During this period, she made three transatlantic crossings. Motherhood in island ports and across the open ocean was never an easy task. The challenge forged Barbara's quiet determination and brought forth her creative gifts.
In late 1979, Barbara returned to the United States, and to Williamsburg, with Magnus. As a single mother with a young son of six, she again called on her inner pluck and grit to make a new life for them both. She began her career with The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. While there, the foundation recognized her talents; naming her Special Events Co-Ordinator. In this role, Barbara had the opportunity to apply her innate style and sense of elegance to create memorable experiences for heads of state, the Board of Directors and other Foundation dignitaries.
In 1995, after being pursued for three years, she married Dr. Steven Cummings in the church on Jamestown Island. Their twenty-two-year marriage was a union of deep love and respect, enhanced by their shared interests, wonderful travel experiences, and their faith in Jesus Christ. Barbara developed their home on Burns Lane into a haven of beauty, peace, and quiet comfort.
In 2011, Barbara became a grandmother to her complete joy. There was nothing more special to her than being “GaGa” to her two grandsons: Odin, soon 6, and Mitra, soon 4. She traveled many times to the Azores to see them on the island of Flores.
As a breast cancer survivor, Barbara tackled this new illness with the same determination, grace, and acceptance she applied to all the challenges in her life. She continued to be active in yoga, walking, ballroom dancing, and The Williamsburg Garden Club. She gave of herself through volunteer work to the board of Dream Catchers Therapeutic Riding Center. She was one of those rare earth elements that made our lives richer. She left this world at peace, held closely by Steven, her family, and friends, assured that this journey would be safely guided as promised by her Lord and Savior.
Surviving Barbara are: Dr. Steven Cummings (Laurie/Paul, Brandi/John); her son Magnus Johnson (Konswan, Odin, Mitra); her brothers Skip Leach (Cathy, Sean/Kate, Amber/Paul Spivey, Heather/Mark Carrington) Andrew Leach (Jeri, Ben Jake); a sister Nancy Leach, as well as numerous grandnieces, grandnephews, and cousins.
A celebration of her life will be held on Saturday, 5 August 2017 at 6:00 pm at The Dream Catchers Riding Center, 10120 Fire Tower Road, Toano, VA.
If inclined, a contribution in her honor can be made to one of the following local organizations: Dream Catchers Therapeutic Riding Center, P.O. Box 1261, Williamsburg, VA 23187; or Hospice House of Williamsburg, 4445 Powhatan Parkway, Williamsburg, VA, 23185.