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Barbara J. (Johnson) Zuber

June 20, 1926 ~ August 29, 2019 (age 93)

Troy - Barbara J. Zuber, died peacefully in her sleep on Thursday, August 29, 2019, at Our Lady of Mercy Life Center.

Born in Philadelphia, PA, she was the daughter of the late J. Warwick Johnson and Marion H. Johnson and the wife of civil rights attorney and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) Professor, Paul B. Zuber. Raised in Harlem, NY, she developed a love of the arts at a very early age while attending The Little Red School House in New York City. Upon graduating from the Walden School in Central Park, she attended the Yale School of Fine Arts and was recognized as the first African-American woman to graduate from that prestigious school. In 1970, after briefly moving to Croton, NY with her husband and children, she and her family moved to Troy, NY in 1970 where her husband became the first tenured African-American professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Barbara was a creative and dynamic artist whose art has been purchased and displayed by Johnson Publishing Company, publisher of Ebony and Jet magazines, Hunt’s Manufacturing Company, Walter Slezak and other local art collectors. She won first prize at the Ossining Women’s Club Annual Art Show and Second Prize at the Hunt’s Manufacturing Company. Her art has also been displayed in a three-artist show with Georgia O’Keefe and Fernando Gorassi as well as in other galleries throughout the country. Barbara was also a writer and illustrator of children’s books having published “Brown is a Beautiful Color” and, before her death, was in the process of submitting a new children’s book entitled, “NeHi.” She also illustrated “This Far by Faith: An African American Resource for Worship.”

She was a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., The Links Inc., The Girl Friends Inc., The Daughters of the King and a communicant of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Troy, New York. Her strong bond to the City of Troy, the Capital Region and RPI remained throughout her life. She served as President of the Troy YWCA, Board member of the Troy Boys and Girl Club and Black Dimensions in Art.  

Survivors include a daughter, Patricia (Craig) Wilson, Troy; a son, Paul (Joanne) Zuber, North Greenbush and four grandchildren, Brandon and Sean Wilson and Alexander and Jackson Zuber.  

The family would like to thank the staff of Our Lady of Mercy Life Center for their loving care of our mother.
Relatives and friends may call at the Bryce Funeral Home, Inc. 276 Pawling Avenue, Troy on Friday, September 6, 2019 from 4-7PM.   Funeral service will be held Saturday at 10 AM at St. John’s Episcopal Church 146 First Street Troy . Interment will be in Albany Rural Cemetery Menands at a later date.

In lieu of flowers contributions may be made in memory of Barbara J. Zuber to the Paul B. and Barbara Zuber Scholarship Fund. Any checks should be listed and addressed to the Paul Zuber Endowed Fund Award, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Gifts Processing Center, P.O. Box 3164, Boston, MA 02241-3164 or online via www.giving.rpi.edu (please note the award when processing online). 


Donations may be made to:

Paul Zuber Endowed Fund Award, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Gifts Processing Center
P.O. Box 3164, Boston MA 02241-3164


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