In Memory of Patty Barbarow





Patty Barbarow 

Patty Ann Matheny Barbarow, 82, of Parkersburg passed away on the morning of Saturday, May 25, 2019 peacefully at her home, surrounded by family. 

She was born in Troy, West Virginia on August 30, 1936 to the late Brooks and Bonnie Rymer Matheny. She attended Troy High School, graduating in 1954 and serving as Class President. After high school, she attended Glenville State College, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Elementary Education. She later went back and earned a Master’s Degree in Education from West Virginia University. 

She is survived by one son, Phil (Traci) Barbarow of Parkersburg; three grandchildren, Seth, Jake, and Izzy Barbarow of Parkersburg; one brother, Billy Matheny of Scottsdale, Arizona, and several nieces, nephews, and close friends. 

She was preceded in death by her husband Berkley Barbarow Jr. and son Joe Barbarow. 

She was a member of Cedar Grove United Methodist Church for over 50 years, where she faithfully attended and served in numerous capacities, including being a member of the United Methodist Women. 
She was a member of the Mid-Ohio Valley Post-Polio Support group, along with the local ostomy association. 

She taught at several elementary schools in Wood County, spending the last 20 plus years at Jefferson Elementary Center in the Title I program. She was a dedicated and caring teacher, with a passion for helping her students. 

Visitation will be from 5-8 p.m. on Thursday, May 30, 2019 at Leavitt’s Funeral Home in Downtown Parkersburg. Memorial service will be Friday, May 31, 2019 at 11:00 a.m. at Cedar Grove UMC, with burial to follow at Sunset Memory Gardens.


MY LIFE WITH POLIO by Patty Babarow






It was summer 1948. Like most kids, I looked forward to enjoying the summer with no school. Polio was at an epidemic stage, causing parents to be afraid to let us kids do the things we were accustomed to during vacation. One of these was going to the county fair. We lived in the country in Gilmer County. Therefore the Gilmer County Fair was something you just didn’t miss! I had to stay home! I wasn’t allowed to go to movies or local dances.


One very warm August night I became very ill. I was taken to Weston to the doctor. He said I had the flu. That night I got up and couldn’t use my left arm. Of course there was no doubt--Polio. I was taken to Wheeling by ambulance to the hospital. I was in isolation 2 weeks, then in the hospital 6 weeks. I had paralysis to some degree in all my body. My left arm and right leg were the worst. Even with therapy most of my life, I was left with little use of my arm. I had one surgery on my hand to give me a grip. That was all the surgery I was willing to have. I had my 13th birthday in the hospital. I became a teen! I listened to Johnny Ray music and enjoyed the things teens do. I missed one year of school with homebound teaching.



I have never considered myself handicapped, I just did things a little differently than others. I had taken piano lessons for six years and was pretty good at it. That was over, but I still played with my right hand. To satisfy my love for music I played trumpet in the Gilmer County Band all during high school. I was able to march and do what was required of me. I had a normal high school life of dating, parties, and lots of friends. My friends didn’t treat me any differently than anyone else; however, if I needed help carrying things, they were there to help.


After high school graduation, I attended Glenville State College receiving my degree in education. I taught two years in Gilmer County and then was married and moved to Parkersburg. We had two boys and I continued to teach in Wood County. I got my masters degree from WVU and retired in 1997 with 36 years of service. I have baby-sat all three of my wonderful grandchildren. The children are all in school now. They live next door to me. I delight in cooking dinner most of the time for my family.


I am a widow and am fighting lung cancer. This is another struggle in life. There have been a lot of struggles in life, but don’t tell me I can’t do something, because I believe I can do whatever I need and want to do. This was the attitude of my parents, husband, brother and now my son and his family. Thank God for all of them helping me stay strong. So please don’t tell me polio handicapped me because it didn’t. I just might need a little help sometimes, but I can help others too. God heals in many ways. He has healed me in many ways. Without faith in God I would be handicapped.



This originally appeared in Mid-Ohio Valley Post-Polio Support Group Memories and Anecdotes 1988-2013, 47 Sponsored by the Wood County Society. Posted on the Post-Polio Health International website with the permission of the author. No further reproduction permitted without further permission of the author. © Patty Barbarow All rights reserved.