Barbara Galler, 1930-2019

Barbara Romney Galler died on April 26, in Moab, Utah, at the age of 88. Barbara was the middle child of Antone and Gretta Romney. Barbara spent most of her childhood in Provo, Utah, and she remained in Provo to attend Brigham Young University, where her father was on the faculty, making it financially feasible.

Barbara was always very artistically creative, but ultimately poetry was her true calling. She received a scholarship for graduate studies at Stanford, but instead moved to Greenwich Village to pursue poetry. There, she was an integral part of the Village scene, hosted poetry writing groups, founded and edited the poetry review Poetry Broadside, and in 1957 was one of Mademoiselle Magazine’s “Ten Young Women of the Year” in recognition of her achievements as a poetry editor. Also in her 20s, she was runner up for the Yale Younger Poets competition, based on a book-length submission.

Soon afterwards, she married. Barbara had a daughter, as she had long wished, but left her marriage when her child was four. In order to provide for the two of them, Barbara returned to school and got a Masters from Bank Street College of Education. During the next decade, Barbara taught in a variety of private schools, preschool through middle school, and founded several schools and Head Start programs.

Barbara later returned to Utah to be close to her aging parents. She directed the Early Childhood Education Program and developed an MBA program at Westminster College in Salt Lake City. She later founded and directed Salt Lake Institute for Learning, a private children’s school.

After retiring, Barbara moved to her beloved Utah desert, making Moab home. She cared for her partner for several more years. Then in 2009, Barbara moved to her own small apartment, finally able to focus fully on her own life, which meant poetry. Barbara always felt that poetry was the true calling and purpose of her life.

After almost 50 years away from active focus on poetry, she became involved in local writing groups where she was always passionate about editing: She served on the board of Moab Poets and Writers and was instrumental in its publication of Desert Voice Volumes I and II, and began the presentation series Evening of Poetry and Conversation. During this time, Barbara published a half dozen chapbooks (small collections) of her poetry. It was bittersweet to come back to this after so long. But for the first time since her 20s, she felt she was fulfilling the purpose of her life.

Barbara had a passion for learning about the natural sciences, cognitive psychology, and, of course, poetry. In recent years she was inspired by those who in their latter years are still creative and contribute to the world; for instance, she admired E.O. Wilson. She loved listening to NPR. Barbara was an avid reader. She often read two nonfiction books a week. In the tradition of her family, she delighted in good conversation with friends.

Throughout her life, Barbara loved to meet up with close friends for driving trips in southern Utah and onto the Hopi and Navajo reservations. Living in Moab, Barbara loved to take drives along the river, and especially loved sitting by the river at Gold Bar. Her connection to ravens is reflected in many of her poems of the past 10 years.

Barbara cared deeply about politics and the ecological wellbeing of the planet. While in Moab, she supported political causes including fair voting boundaries, No Green River Nuke, and was active with League of Women Voters.

Recently, Barbara had been working on a book-length manuscript of her poetry. It saddened her that her voice was weakening, because poetry is an oral tradition and the development of poems best includes speaking them out loud.

Early this April, Barbara moved to Canyonlands Care Center. Her desire to create poetry remained strong, but a history of heart-related illness increasingly took its toll on her energy. The week of her death, a poet friend visited her and together they read a springtime poem about peach blossoms, and Barbara expressed excitement about the possibility of yet publishing her poems. Barbara passed away after a couple days of significant but peaceful decline.

Barbara’s website remains, and her daughter hopes to update it later this summer, including some of the poems from the current book manuscript.

There will be a celebration of Barbara’s life on Sunday June 23, 2019, near Gold Bar. There will be an announcement published in the newspaper closer to that date. Also, Barbara’s daughter can be contacted for more information at 435-260-8974.