In memory of
Barbara Jane Fisher Mahon Materka
MATERKA, Barbara Jane Fisher Mahon (b. 12/25/1919, Rockford, IL; d. 7/5/19, Dallas, TX) Barbara F. Materka, a lifelong fighter for human rights and women's rights, died peacefully in her home on Turtle Creek Blvd at the age of 99, surrounded by loving family in the days preceding her death. Raised in Newberry in the Upper Straits of Michigan and in Traverse City by her parents Myrtle Mae Bonney and Karl Fisher, the high school principal in Traverse City, Barbara was educated at the University of Michigan where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and Mortar Board, the highest honor for academics and leadership in the Big 10 schools at the time. While earning her Master's in English literature from Michigan and working as a teacher in Grosse Point, Barbara met her first husband, Ralph Mahon, a Texas born and raised medical student and then surgical resident at Michigan. A fairly short time after Ralph returned from serving as a surgeon in WWII, they moved to Dallas. When she arrived in Dallas in 1950, Barbara was shocked by Jim Crow laws and segregation she had not known in Michigan, and after Jim Crow was outlawed in the mid-1960's Barbara joined the Amigos, a multiracial group dedicated to furthering tolerance and changed racial relations simply by hanging out together in public and dining together at Dallas restaurants. She served as president of the League of Women Voters of Dallas, as chair of North Texas Planned Parenthood, as a board member of the Women's Council of Dallas County, as co-chair of the Greater Dallas Coalition for Reproductive Freedom, as a board member and president of the Women's Issues Network, on the Greater Dallas Community Relations Commission; and she contributed her energy and considerable organizational skills to the successful fights to end the poll tax and to pass the Equal Rights Amendment in Texas and to various other civic causes. She was inducted into the Veteran Feminists of America, and SMU student interviews of her can be viewed on their website ( www.veteranfeministsofamerica.org under the "Fabulous Feminists" index). In her 75th year, she was honored by the Dallas Women's Resource center at their 75th Anniversary celebration. She received the Myrtle Bales Buckley award from the League of Women Voters and the Maura Award for women helping women from the Dallas Women's Foundation. She also found time to be active in the PTA's of her children's and her step grandchildren's schools. Her first unhappy marriage of 21 years ended in divorce, and she re-married happily for 19 years to William (Bill) Materka, a sales executive in the packaging industry who also taught marketing as an adjunct at SMU. She met Bill when they were co-leads in White Rock Kiwanis musical theater productions of Broadway shows directed by Charlie Meeker of State Fair Music Hall and Six Flags Over Texas fame. Bill died after a series of heart attacks in 1984. Barbara's daughter, Kathleen (Kathe) Mahon Brunet predeceased her in Toulouse, France in 2002. She is survived by her son, Brian Mahon, a clinical psychologist in New York City, and his wife Alice Phillips, an artist with a long history of gallery representation, exhibits, and inclusion in private, corporate, and museum collections; by her granddaughter Elsa Brunet, a family physician in Paris, France, her father Michel Brunet, a retired TV news reporter and a supervising editor for TVF1, and her partner Clement Ramos, an environmental engineer; by her stepdaughter Lynn Materka Harnden, an educator in Dallas and her husband, David Harnden, a landscape architect, real estate executive, and recently retired commercial roofing executive who graciously managed her home hospice care; and by her stepson Jan Materka of Dallas, who had his own firm in the packaging industry, and his wife Holly Materka, a homemaker and a manager in retail. She is survived by six step grandchildren: Courtney Harnden Link, a study abroad executive in Austin, and her husband Barry Link, a computer graphic artist and video producer for the Texas Education Agency; Paige Harnden Sidhom, a mortgage underwriting manager in Dallas and her husband Matt Sidhom, an HR executive; Myles Harnden, a commercial realtor in Minnesota; Mallory Harnden, a real estate marketer in Austin; Will Materka of Dallas; and Laurel Materka of Dallas, employed in commercial property management. She is survived by five great grandchildren: Chloe Sunshine Link, Abigail and Elliott Sidhom, and Margot and Suzanne Brunet-Ramos. The family would like to thank Susan McKinney, MD who gave Barbara dedicated care for decades and Faith Presbyterian Hospice and the various personal health aides for their generous caring for her in her final days. She donated her body to UT Southwestern Medical Center for medical research and training. Her ashes will be returned to the family, and she will be interred at the Urn Garden at Hillcrest Sparkman Cemetery alongside her beloved second husband Bill Materka. In final notes and reminiscences written to her family, she admonished us to be politically active to guard against the rise of fascism in our current United States. 'Donations' can be made to our democratic political process through the support of her commitment to core American values of freedom, justice, equality, and equality of opportunity for all.
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