BARBARA DODGE GILL
The Ventura County Star
Barbara Dodge Gill, born Dec.1922, in Ventura, died Sunday, May 20, 2007, in Camarillo. She was 84 years. Barbara's father, James Dodge, was a local farmer who specialized in growing lemons. Her mother, Jenne Hyde Dodge, built the Mayfair Theater in Ventura.
As a young child, Barbara was stricken with polio. Doctors at the Mayo Clinic doubted that she would ever walk again. Barbara was determined to overcome her handicap and live as normal a life as possible. Not only did she learn to walk without braces, but she also learned to bicycle, swim, and even play tennis. Her real passion was horseback riding.
While in high school, Barbara met Carmelita Nicholson Fitzgerald, granddaughter of Adolfo Camarillo. The two became friends for life. Carmelita often invited Barbara to go horseback riding at the Camarillo Ranch, home of the famous Camarillo White Horses. Barbara's favorite horse was Paisano, a beautiful, feisty stalleion who took a liking to her. Over the years, Barbara developed exceptional riding skills. As a result, she was invited to ride Paisano in numerous parades with members of the Camarillo family.
In the mid-1960s, Barbara became politically active. As a political novice, she ran a successful primary campaign for a local candidate running for California Assembly. She also became close friends with Bob Finch, California lieutenant governor during Ronald Reagan's first two years as governor. Bob was impressed with Barbara's ability to grasp the issues and propose viable solutions. Whenever he needed a sounding board, he knew he could count on Barbara's input.
Barbara was an avid reader and enjoyed her rose garden. She is survived by her children, Sharon Hamill, John Besser and Brian Besser; granddaughter, Kim Pankratz; and sons, Grant, Spencer and Blake. Besides missing Barbara's love, compassion and guidance, all will miss her exceptional cooking skills.
A graveside service will be held at 12:30 p.m. Friday, May 25, at Conejo Mountain Memorial Park, in Camarillo. Assisted by Conejo Mountain Funeral Home and Memorial Park.