Barbara Maly, a long-time mathematics educator and liberal arts champion at Edmonds Community College, died from an aggressive cancer while surrounded by friends at Overlake Hospital in Bellevue on June 4.
Born in 1945 in Troy, New York, where she lived with her family until she entered Smith College in Massachusetts in 1963, Barbara moved to Washington state in 1967 to begin a graduate program in math at the University of Washington. Shortly after completing her master’s degree, Barb joined the faculty at Edmonds Community College (1976) where she taught math for almost forty years, served as math department head for more than twenty years, and presided over the faculty union from 2004 to 2008 before retiring in June, 2013.
Barbara was preceded in death by her father (Dis Maly), mother (Janet Maly), brother (Edward Maly), and aunt Marcia Joan Brown, the internationally acclaimed writer and children’s book illustrator who assisted in bringing the Chinese artist, Zhou Hejun, to the college several years ago. She is survived by her brother (Dis Maly), niece (Beth Maly), nephew (Kenneth Maly) and sisters-in-law (Mary and Margaret).
Barb’s academic aptitude was recognized nationally when, at age 18, she earned the distinction of National Merit Scholarship finalist. She gave the valedictory address at Averill Park High School, NY, in 1963, and during her freshman year at Smith College, she won the Suzan Rose Benedict Prize for outstanding math student. She was elected to Smith’s Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi chapters and graduated with honors. Smith classmate and fellow math major, Dr. Joan Hutchinson, remembers that it took a couple of years of math classes to catch up with Barb’s knowledge of math.
Colleagues in Edmonds remember Barb appearing at their office doorways with a smile and a desire to chat. She spoke passionately about teaching and fondly about her students. She laughed often and was friendly to everyone she knew and met, constant in her appreciation for authenticity, justice, humor, beauty and intelligence. Her engagement in life extended to subscribing to the Seattle Opera for four decades, solving Kakuro math puzzles with friends over gin and tonics, joining in an occasional backyard croquet match, attending the Pacific Northwest Ballet, and struggling to keep up with The New Yorker.
A memorial service will be held during the third week of September at Edmonds Community College. To celebrate her unique, big-hearted legacy, Barb’s friends and family invite others to join them in supporting the Barbara Maly Scholarship for students in Edmonds CC’s liberal arts programs. https://www.edcc.edu/foundation/