Scotta Frances Barsella
Scotta Barsella, age 81, passed away peacefully on September 16 at home in Durham, North Carolina. Scotta was born on August 26, 1939 in New York City. She was the youngest child of Charles Barsella and Annie (Perkins) Barsella and sister to Martha, Charles, King, Christine and Peggy. Scotta grew up in Harlem. She attended Julia Richman High School and Howard University, where she studied and exceled at visual art.
Scotta met William Edward (“Sonny”) Tymas in her sophomore year at Howard and they married in New York City on June 21, 1959. The young couple returned to Washington, DC to raise a family, before eventually moving to Reston, Virginia. Scotta left her studies temporarily to raise her two children, Baron and Whitney. She was a homemaker during her kids’ early years and devoted herself to this role with passion. Inside the home, she created a warm and sheltering space of food, books, music, tenderness, and acceptance. Outside, she gently propelled her kids to explore a kaleidoscope of unlikely cultural, political, and educational experiences.
With her children in their late teens, Scotta entered the workforce. In an era of rapid technological innovation, Scotta took a job at Honeywell Corporation as a data entry technician and, through her keen intellect and aggressive pursuit of on-the-job training, she rose through the ranks to earn Top Secret clearances, the title of Senior Systems Analyst, and assignments on major defense contracts. She was a respected colleague, mentor, and role model to many. And she in turn loved and respected the trailblazers with whom she worked. Scotta took well-deserved pride in her accomplishments and savored the independence that her labors provided.
In 1994, Scotta became a grandmother. Two years later, she earned her college degree from National Louis University. A few years later, she and Sonny retired and moved to Richmond, VA to be closer to family. Much to Whitney’s delight, they bought a house just a block away. Scotta was intimately involved in the lives of her granddaughters, Dylan and Lila. Twelve years later, Scotta and Sonny moved to Durham, NC, less than a mile from Baron, her daughter in law, Laura, and her two grandsons, Elias and Jesse. What a gift that all four grandchildren really knew their grandma, and that she knew them. Likewise, it was a gift to Baron and Whitney, as parents, to have had their mother’s wisdom and constant support.
Scotta was an energetic lover of life. During her years in Richmond, she made many friends and was loved by her neighbors, fellow exercise enthusiasts, and colleagues at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, where she worked part-time. An artist at heart, Scotta took an interest in photography and graphic design and eventually displayed her art publicly in Richmond. She was also politically active. A volunteer coordinator for the 2008 Obama campaign, Scotta contributed her time almost daily in the months leading up to this historic election. In Durham, Scotta was a fixture in the jazz community, encouraging many young musicians and supporting her favorite radio station, WNCU. As she entered her 80’s, Scotta was still walking miles a day at a rapid clip, practicing Zumba and Tai chi, caring for gorgeous plants and flowers and making friends throughout her new hometown. Scotta was a member of Epworth Methodist Church. There, she participated in worship services and actively took part in the church’s social justice initiatives.
Each person is unique; yet some, like Scotta, are so filled with love, sensitivity and kindness that they radiate a brightness – an unmistakable glow -- and we cannot help but notice them. They invite our hearts to smile. Scotta is survived by her son, Baron, daughter, Whitney, grandchildren, Dylan, Lila, Elias and Jesse, daughter-in-law, Laura, son-in-law Rob, sister-in-law Jean, nieces and nephews whom she adored, and a multitude of friends from each stage of her beautiful life. We will carry within us her enduring light and love.
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