A gifted singer with a larger than life personality, Barbara Pearce loved helping others realize their full potential. Her legacy gift through The Winnipeg Foundation ensures her passions will continue to be supported forever.
“Even if [a person] didn’t believe in themselves, Barb always made sure she believed in them first, and that always brought them a lot of confidence and empowerment,” says Ms. Pearce’s good friend Christy Kim.
Throughout her 36-year teaching career, Barb taught music at more than a dozen schools across the province, most recently at Prairie Rose and Kent Road schools.
“She brought out greatness in everyone which showed in her many school choir awards and achievements. Her goal in life was to help make people aware of the power of music and to awaken their souls to its beauty and in turn bring out excellence in all she inspired,” Ms. Kim says.
She would regularly go above the call of duty to help a student.
“She always strived to make sure her students had advantages maybe they couldn’t have on their own. She made sure if someone couldn’t afford something they would somehow get a scholarship or some kind of monetary help. She cared a lot; she cared more than they did sometimes,” Ms. Kim says.
Ms. Pearce was a talented performer. She won a number of singing awards including the Winnipeg Music Festival’s Tudor Bowl and Gordon Hignell Memorial Trophy. She had lead roles in many Rainbow Stage performances. She was a member of many choirs, and regularly sang at weddings, funerals and other functions.
Ms. Kim fondly remembers attending events with Ms. Pearce, who would instantly form a bond with almost every new person she met by finding something in common they shared.
“Barb brightened every room she walked into and was loved by everyone. She had the quickest wit around and had the amazing ability to bring a smile everywhere she went.”
She was also often the loudest and funniest person in the room. “She didn’t need a microphone, she always bragged about that,” Ms. Kim says with a smile.
When she was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer in May 2015, Ms. Pearce had no estate plans in place; she asked Ms. Kim to be her Executor and named Ms. Kim’s partner, Tony Wytinck, her Power of Attorney.
Ms. Pearce was unsure what she wanted do with her assets. Knowing Ms. Pearce’s commitment to helping others and her passion for music and the arts, Mr. Wytinck suggested creating a legacy through The Foundation.
“Until we presented The Winnipeg Foundation idea, up to that point [it] was very difficult. [That changed] once we presented her with the idea of a [creating a] legacy. That’s when she opened up,” Mr. Wytinck says.
True to her character of putting others’ needs ahead of her own, in her illness Ms. Pearce, along with Ms. Kim and Mr. Wytnick, planned a Celebration of Life event for her friends, family and former students. Ms. Pearce handpicked the menu, flowers and centrepieces, and the event featured some of her favourite performers, including children’s entertainer Al Simmons, African drummer Coffieman, and juggler Robin Chestnut.
Unfortunately, Ms. Pearce passed away in July 2015, just four days before the event. But she had been so involved in the planning, Ms. Kim says, “It was like she was there.”
Ms. Pearce’s legacy is the Barbara Pearce Arts and Culture Community Fund, held at The Winnipeg Foundation. This Field of Interest Fund supports organizations and causes Barb was passionate about. Through her fund, Ms. Pearce will continue to help others realize their full potential.
“Knowing Barb was a privilege and honour, and to see her legacy continue on, helping those in need, is truly fulfilling her own dreams for years to come. She wanted to be remembered as someone who helped those around her soar as high as they could with pride in their own talents,” Ms. Kim says.
This story is featured in the Winter 2017 edition of The Winnipeg Foundation’s Working Together magazine.