Beatrice A. Barrigher, who lived on Ellis Street in South Berkeley. Courtesy: Family of Beatrice A. Barrigher

Beatrice A. Barrigher of South Berkeley, affectionately known as “Aunt Bea” or “Mama Bea,” died on Feb. 22.

She was born Nov. 18, 1928, in Galveston, Texas. She was born into a large and loving family as the fourth oldest of ten to her beloved parents, Mable “Mama Dear” Howard and Rolly “Daddy Jam” Howard.

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In 1941, Aunt Bea moved with her family to San Francisco, and the family put down roots in South Berkeley. Her mother Mable became a legendary activist most famous for her 1968 lawsuit against BART that helped force the transit district to underground the trains through her neighborhood, preventing the division of the Black and white sections of town by a set of tracks.

Beatrice A. Barrigher and her sons, Frank and Antonio. Courtesy: Family of Beatrice A. Barrigher

As a woman of many talents, Aunt Bea served many careers. In her early teens, she began working alongside her mother in antiques. At the age of 14, she then worked at a cannery, where she helped start a union with her sister Louise. She later served as a federal worker, longshorewoman, homemaker, and activist. Her life took her on many adventures, most memorably working at the Elmendorf Air force Base in Anchorage, Alaska, with her mother and sisters and then moving to Guam with her children and husband, George.

Beatrice A. Barrigher with her sons Frank, Calvin and Antonio. Courtesy: Family of Beatrice A. Barrigher

Aunt Bea raised five beautiful children: Frank DeBerry, Antonio Juan DeBerry (may he rest in peace), Wilhelmina DeBerry (may she rest in peace), Calvin DeBerry, and Rainie Wooten. She was a grandmother to eight grandchildren: Akilah (Christo) Robinson, Christina DeBerry, Sarah DeBerry, Asha DeBerry, Samuel Lee Kennan, Gabriel DeBerry, Dominique DeBerry, and Teresa DeBerry. She was a proud great-grandmother to seven great-grandchildren: Jabari Berger, Isaiah Berger, Aaliyah Berger, Zaymar DeBerry, Taryn Smith Kennan, Lando DeBerry, and Mace DeBerry.

Aunt Bea was also a mother to many in the community, volunteering at the South Berkeley Senior Center every Tuesday and housing and feeding countless people in need throughout South Berkeley, where she resided as a beloved and recognized member of the community until her passing.

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Aunt Bea will be well remembered and cherished for her exuberant energy, passion for politics and unrelenting fight for equal rights for women and people of color. She appreciated a well-crafted joke, a good fight, and had a deep love for her family and community. Aunt Bea has left a resounding impact on every life she touched and will be missed dearly. 

A service in her memory will be held at 10:30 a.m. on March 9 at Ebenezer Baptist Church.

Beatrice A. Barrigher. Courtesy: Family of Beatrice A. Barrigher