Barbara Anne Neighbors Deal October 25, 1948-July 4, 2019
As a child, Barbara Anne Neighbors Deal loved eating peaches on her grandparents’ farm in Turlock, California. Barbara was born on October 25, 1948 in nearby San Pedro, CA, the only child of Clarance E. Neighbors and Neilya Marsh Sharon Neighbors.
After a short illness, Barbara graduated into the heavenly realm on July 4, 2019 in Eldoret, Kenya, surrounded by friends. Her ashes are buried under a hardwood tree (representing a strong woman), on the farmland of her friends Samuel and Rhoda Teimuge in Illula Village, Kenya.
Growing up, her mother was a devout Methodist and Barbara, “loved everything about the church and spirituality.” Over the course of her life, Barbara had many careers, each a different interpretation of living service and prayer, and a different expression of her faith. She attended California Western University, and then United States International University for a Masters degree in Human Behavior and a PhD in Psychology and Religion. She wrote hymns (including “My Life is in Your Hands” and “It’s a Beautiful Day”), and directed youth and choirs at various Methodist churches.
Barbara married Robert Lewis “Bob” Deal on October 22, 1976. Together, they moved to Walla Walla, Washington where she and Bob ran a farm, growing most of their own food and raising goats. Barbara loved the sound of the baby goats, which made her chuckle and smile.
Barbara and Bob were the coordinators for Camps Farthest Out International, a nondenominational Christian organism which created retreats based on the writings of the theologian Glenn Clark from 1980-1995. Together, they traveled around the world for several months during each of those years, leading meetings and developing programs in many countries, including Kenya, Philippines, and India, where she met with Mother Theresa. She was an inspiring song leader, leading music and speaking at many Camps Farthest Out and Journey Farthest Out camps over the years.
As a speaker, Barbara often organized her talks around Clark’s text “The Divine Plan.” Sharing about her journey, she often quoted from the text in believing that God’s plan for her was “wrapped in the folds of my Being, even as the oak is wrapped in the acorn and the rose is wrapped in the bud.” Speaking about the kindred spirits she met in her life, she believed “that God has selected those persons who are to belong to my plan, and that through proximity, mutual attraction or need, they and I are continually finding each other out.”
In Ojai, CA, Barbara started the Barbara Neighbors Deal Literary Agency, which specialized in health, personal growth, and spiritual development books. She produced several bestsellers, including The New Yoga for People Over 50, and the 12-Step Buddhist.
She was a devoted caretaker for her parents and Bob, who preceded her in death. She is survived by her cousin Sandy (Red), whom was like a sister to her, and many other cousins, second cousins, and extended family members. Barbara is remembered and missed by many in California and around the world who were privileged to call her a dear friend. She had a personal ministry of listening to people and sharing words of encouragement. She preached a message of radical openness and “radiant acquiescence” to all that life presents to us. She shared stories about her own life and continuous learning. And she made everyone feel special, unique, and loved just as they are.
Upon Bob’s passing, she wrote to her friends a reminder that even on the Journey into death, all is well: “All I know for sure is the wisdom of a favorite hymn of ours, that alternately thunders, then softly whispers, in my awareness, ‘When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrow like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul. It is well (it is well), with my soul, (with my soul) It is well, it is well with my soul.’ It IS well with my soul, and it is well with Bob’s soul. All is well, and all shall be well, and every manner of thing shall be well.”
In her final years, Barbara was welcomed into a prayer group connected with the Crescent City Seventh Day Adventist Church. That community delighted and uplifted her as she was rediscovering herself after the death of her beloved Bob in 2016. She had a backyard garden in Crescent City with over a dozen varieties of tomatoes.
After joining Spirit in Action International as an Advisory Board Member in 2010 and then later becoming a Board of Trustees Member in 2016, Barbara was thrilled to have the opportunity to visit SIA partners in Uganda and Kenya in May-June of this year, and to return to countries she had not seen since 1996. Her warmth, curiosity, and beaming smile, endeared her to all she met. Barbara was admitted to Eldoret Hospital on June 20th with a perforation in her intestine and died two weeks later. She was cared for by a faithful and loving #TeamBarbara.
Memorial services and celebrations of life will be held in Crescent City, CA, on Saturday, September 21st at 4:00 at the Seventh Day Adventist Church, 1770 Northcrest Drive, and in Sacramento on Sunday, September 29th at 3:30 pm at the Carmichael Presbyterian Church, 5645 Marconi Avenue, Carmichael, CA.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent in Barbara’s honor to Spirit in Action International, at PO Box 3384 Santa Cruz, CA, 95063 or at www.spiritinaction.org.