Barbara Roche graduated from Stanford in 1956 and left for a career in television in Baltimore. Full of optimism and hope, she was shattered when after two weeks she was fired by the television producer. Embarrassed to return to California, she found employment at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC. Here she thought about the direction of her life, aided by the National Presbyterian Church, which she had joined.
What led Barbara to attend Princeton Theological Seminary happened after a retreat led by a Princeton seminarian, Frank Watson (Classes of 1957 and 1961). In a conversation with him she dared to suggest that she also might attend seminary. He took her inquiry seriously and in a matter of days, the application arrived. Throughout the three years of school Barbara received generous assistance from the Seminary, worked at the university, and received loans from her congregation to help fund her education.
“I attended Seminary during a time when the church was not very open to women serving in leadership roles. I am very grateful to Princeton Seminary, which gave me the knowledge and confidence to serve the church,” she said.
Following graduation, she returned to the west coast and accepted a call to be director of religious education at Emmanuel Presbyterian Church in Spokane, Washington.
Other calls included being an area representative for the Commission on Ecumenical Mission and Relations; dean of students at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley; editor of Concern magazine for the United Presbyterian Church, and finally editor of Horizons magazine and Bible study for the PCUSA in Louisville. She was ordained as a ruling elder in 1968 by Edgewater Presbyterian Church in Chicago and as a teaching elder in 1974 by Chicago Presbytery. In 1984, she earned a D.Min. degree.
Today, fifty-one years after graduating from PTS, Barbara still supports the Annual Fund. She has included the Seminary in her will. “I decided to give for several reasons,” she said. “In honor of the lifelong friends made at Princeton, in appreciation for the scholarships and work the Seminary gave me, and for the education that helped me through the years. I believe proclaiming the gospel is essential for the world, and I think this strong institution will continue to be faithful to that calling in the years to come.”