Biography of Barbara Park

Born in Syracuse, NY, February 10, 1944 as Barbara Carol Gorman.

I was raised by my mother and grandfather in Syracuse and graduated from Nottingham High School in 1961. This was the same high school that my mother had attended and we even had one of the same teachers. The building was new when she attended, however. After high school I attended Sargent College, which is part of Boston University, to study Physical Therapy, and graduated with a BS in 1965. I picked PT knowing very little about it. I pictured working with little children with polio. Fortunately, there was no polio by the time I was in school. Also there was no foreign language requirement, which had been my downfall in HS.

I met Peter B. Steinau in Boston and we were married just after I graduated (6-20-65 in the First Universalist Church in Syracuse). We moved immediately to Chicago, IL. and I worked at Schwab Rehabilitation Center in adult Rehab, which was my goal at that time. We didnít love city life and moved to Mt. Carol, IL in 1966 so that Peter could attend Shimer College. I worked at Dixon State School and was introduced for the first to working with people with severe developmental disabilities. This would ultimately become my career focus. I worked at Freeport Memorial Hospital from 1967 to 1968. We had our daughter, Kathrine Christina (always called Casey) on 1-12-68. Peter and I separated in the fall of 1968 and both returned to Chicago where I worked at Mercy Hospital in general PT until 1970.

This was a time of Black Power, the Weathermen, and Vietnam protest, and Chicago was not a comfortable place for a radical liberal to be raising a small child. One of my best friends was arrested for destruction of draft records. I decided to "Escape to Wisconsin", so in 1970 Casey and I moved to WI to join a fledgling commune. When this was not working out, we moved to Madison, WI and I got a job as a PT at Central WI Center for the Developmentally Disabled (then known as Central Colony). I have spent the last 30 years there.

Casey and I arrived in Madison with essentially no money. I found a very cheap apartment with one bedroom and a sitting room where Casey slept. There was no kitchen. There was a refrigerator in the closet, a clothes closet in the shared hallway, and no stove. We cooked in an electric frying pan (before the days of microwaves) and did dishes in the bathtub. With the money I saved through this living arrangement I was able to buy a small house in Windsor, WI and Casey started school there.

I had started working on my Masterís Degree when I first moved to WI and worked as a home bound teacher. Ultimately I finished a degree in Mental Retardation at UW-Whitewater and taught a course for them called "Techniques for the Multiply Handicapped" for three semesters until they got a full time person to take over several of the special education courses in this area.

My goal was to "move up" to a better house when I built equity. I sold the house in Windsor after 6 years and was having a house build on Lake WI when I met Robert Park at Camp Upham Woods during a Prairie UU Society retreat weekend. He was separated from his wife and going through stressful times. We rapidly became friends, moved into the Lake WI house together, and ultimately married on 7-11-81. His sons Robin and Mischa have always been a part of our life together. It has been a privilege to watch them grow and love them along their paths to adulthood. Our son, Ian, was born the following year (11-15-82). Even though we were older parents, we were already in the midst of child rearing, so having another child seemed natural.

We decided to move to Madison when Ian was in 4th grade. It was a good move for us. It was more convenient for Robin and Mischa not to be trucking all the way out to Lake WI all the time and we wanted to move before Ian got into the higher grades. Our neighbors are more compatible. Robert takes the bus to work, after spending years at a long commute.

My passions over the years have included skiing (Ski Patrol for 17 years), gardening and music, and in earlier years included sky diving and motorcycling. I currently sing with the Madison Symphony Choir and direct my small church choir.