Barbara Ann Ousley Lehnen died peacefully at home on October 5, 2023 following a long illness. She was preceded in death by her parents, Wayde Ousley and Betty Brown Ousley, and a sister, Betty Jean “Beji” Ward. She is survived by her sisters Linda Johnson and Beth Ousley, six nieces and nephews and their families, her much-loved close cousins, and many special and dearly loved friends. She was a member of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Gulfport and formerly sang in the choir.
Barbara was an intellectual who had a thirst for knowledge and learning. Her passions were classical music and classical literature. She often would say that she probably should have been born in the 16th century. Her other special interests were geography; weather; reading; working crossword puzzles; playing the piano; caring for a life-long series of beloved cats and dogs; watching her hand-picked “team” of favorite NFL football players; watching old NCIS reruns featuring *Mark Harmon*; handwriting analysis, and SCUBA diving. Her intellectual prowess aside, she had a well-rounded personality, loved to have fun, was a great story teller, and had a witty and wry sense of humor to go with her infectious smile.
Before illness significantly curtailed her activities Barbara loved to travel, especially to Paris, her favorite city. She was blessed with a special facility for languages and an ear and a tongue for their unique accents. She studied Latin enthusiastically, could converse in French and Spanish; and could even read, speak, and translate Middle English and Old English.
Barbara graduated from Gulfport High School with her beloved Commodores Class of 1962 and entered our dad’s alma mater, Millsaps College, as a freshman. She subsequently transferred to the University of Southern Mississippi and graduated with a B. A. in English. After teaching English in the Gulfport School System for several years, she received a Fellowship from her dear friend and mentor, Dr. Charles Moorman – former Chairman of the English Department and later Dean of the University -- to return to USM for her Master’s degree in English Literature. Later in her life, Barbara continued her postgraduate education with a four-year curriculum offered by The University of the South (Sewanee) School of Theology and was awarded a certificate in Theological Education for Ministry on May 30, 2010.
Barbara had loved living in Tampa, Florida for thirty years prior to returning home to Gulfport in 2000 to help her sister care for their mother. In Tampa, Barbara taught at a private Catholic girls’ school for about 10 years. She eventually left her teaching career behind to begin a new career in Human Resources management and held responsible management positions with Honeywell, Pepsi-Cola, Evatone, and the University of South Florida. While living in Tampa, one of her main interests was singing in her church choir and also in the Tampa Oratorio Chorus, an audition-only choir.
The Ousley family and close friends would like to express our deep gratitude to Michelle Schifano, our housekeeper for several years, whose friendship and companionship have been a wonderful blessing to Barbara and Beth and an invaluable asset through this experience.
The date for a Celebration of Life memorial service will be announced later in the year.
Riemann Family Funeral Home assisted with arrangements.