Barbara J. Hollister, 81, of Santa Barbara died at her home of 43 years on Dec. 21, 2013, at exactly 12:31 p.m. She left us peacefully in her sleep from heart failure.
She was born on Oct. 13, 1932, in Waverly, Kan., to Helen Marion Lindsey and Dr. Henry Millard Benning. She soon moved with her family and baby brother, Fritz, to Allegan, Mich., where her sister Julie was born.
In 1942, her father enlisted in the Army Medical Corps and moved the family to Santa Barbara Hoff Army Hospital, a war facility for wounded soldiers.
Babs, as she was known to her family and friends, attended Peabody Elementary, La Cumbre Junior High, Santa Barbara High and UCSB (Riviera Campus). In high school she cheered on the Dons football program, met an upper classman on the team, Wilson Kenneth Jennings, and solidified lifelong friendships with her classmates, which continued until her death. They held monthly luncheons at Café del Sol and called themselves "the Class of 1950."
At college she was an honor student and an avid fan of the Gauchos, a member of the Pi Beta Phi Sorority and honored as "the Sweetheart of Sigma Chi."
In 1951, she married Ken Jennings, and together they had four children: Bill, Matt, Sara and Joe. In 1960, Ken joined the Project Hope and the family lived abroad for a few years in Jakarta, Indonesia, and Trujillo, Peru. Babs traveled the very long distance to Jakarta from California with four small children and an enormous box of medical books for Ken, with no complaints, as always. In 1970, Babs remarried to J.J. Hollister. They were married at their Arroyo Hondo Ranch, then made their home on Cielito Lane, where they remained for the past 43 years.
J.J. brought three young children to their life together from his previous marriage to Virginia Castagnola: Scott, George and Cate. This made a total of seven children for Babs to take care of, which she loved!
She was a lifelong member of the Junior League and her Class of 1950 monthly luncheon group. In addition, she was a member of the Santa Barbara Tennis Club, the Goleta Athletic Club and Santa Barbara Community Church. More recently, she loved playing Dimes monthly with her friends from the Pescatore Club.
She was also a life member of the Farm Bureau and Calavo. She was an avid reader throughout her life and a great enthusiast of classical music, often attending the Music Academy Summer programs.
Nothing much could distract our Babs from her beloved Dodgers, and when baseball season was finished, the San Francisco 49ers and Stanford football filled the gap. The National League was her greatest passion.
Babs was an accomplished backpacker in her day, both in the Sierras and Wind River Range of Wyoming. She was co-owner of a wilderness cabin at Pistol Creek Ranch on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. She enjoyed many a summer fly fishing and hiking the rugged trails. She and J.J. frequently vacationed in Mexico. She was also an expert scuba diver and explored the sunken ships and reefs of Truk Lagoon and other underwater South Pacific sites, as well as extensive diving off of Santa Cruz Island, traveling there on their boat, "The Bonito."
From 1990 to 2000, she and J.J. lived on the Arroyo Hondo Ranch in an historic 1842 Ortega adobe. For many years she managed the Long Horn Cattle operation of her sister-in-law, Cinny H. Nagel, while she tended her own 20-acre avocado orchard. Among the many challenges were avoiding the numerous rattlesnakes (well protected by her handy Derringer pistol) and occasional marauding black bears after an easy snack of harvested avocados, sitting in bins.
Her gentle and loving spirit will be missed by her devoted family and friends. She is survived by her loving husband of 43 years, J.J. Hollister III; her brother, Fritz Benning (Linnea); her sister, Julie Allen (Steve Johnson); her children, Bill Jennings (Sue), Matt Jennings, Sara Pelton and Joe Jennings (Trish); three stepchildren, Scott Hollister (Kaaren), George Hollister (Cathy) and Cate Wallenfels (Mike); her 13 grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.
Private services will be held. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her honor to the Arroyo Hondo Preserve and Hospice of Santa Barbara.
Arrangements entrusted to Welch-Ryce-Haider Funeral Chapels.