'It's enchanting and most people don't even know about it," said Barbara Heddinger in a 2008 Post and Courier story about the Garden Club of Charleston's Gateway Walk. The story's writer described it as "a delightful mix of greenery, graves, gates and ghosts," and Heddinger made it her job to see that people found out about it. It was her first project when she became a member of the Garden Club of Charleston. It was also her last, as her funeral notice requested memorial contributions be made to its fund.
Heddinger, public relations director with the Garden Club of Charleston, died Jan. 29.
Born in Baltimore on July 23, 1943, Barbara Dashields Polk Heddinger grew up loving the ocean and spent her time sailing and hanging out at the beach.
Her record collection was a mix of jazz, rock and folk classics, specifically "Bobby Dylan," as she called him, according to her son, Marty Turner. She played piano and guitar, and was in a rock band in the '70s.
After Heddinger made Charleston her home, she became active with the Gibbes Museum of Art and the Charleston Symphony Orchestra League. But it was at the Garden Club of Charleston where she became a permanent fixture.
She joined the club in 1989 and immediately embraced her role as its spokeswoman. "The Garden Club was very close to her heart," said club president Terry Ritchen.
Club historian Jean Ferrara, a member since 1971 and past president, worked closely with Heddinger in 2012 for the 90th anniversary projects for the club. "She was a mainstay of that," Ferrara said. "Putting it together was an ordeal and she was so successful."
As a photographer, Heddinger put together the pictorial history of the club. Also published was a book, CD and DVD. Ferrara wrote the script but told Heddinger to record it because "your voice is much better than mine."
Ferrara also recalled the 75th anniversary of the Gateway Walk when Heddinger was chairman for the annual party. Heddinger wanted to place luminarias along the three-block walk beginning at Archdale St. downtown and heading toward St. Philip St.
"In my head, I thought that was a pipe dream ... but she made it work. It was lovely," Ferrara said. "She took great pride in the success of the party."
Heddinger's absence at this season's festivities was notable, namely at the club's highlight event, the annual House and Garden Tour.
She was "deeply missed, not only for her friendship, but her expertise in so many areas," Ferrara said. "She was such a kind person and always looked out for the older members."
"She was such a wonderful person ... whatever she belonged to, she really worked for that organization," Ferrara said. "She wasn't just a part of the membership in name only."
Dolly Lipman, president of the Gibbes Museum of Art's Women's Council, also remembered Heddinger for her contributions as a member of the council. "She was always one of our more active members, full of great ideas and suggestions," Lipman said. "Her creativity was endless."
Dottie Lockwood, Lipman's mother, was the chairwoman for the council's catering committee and also worked with Heddinger. "My mother ... always said that one trait she always looked for in people was dependability, and Barbara was one of the most dependable people there was," Lipman said.
She had a passion for life and service, but she also had a passion for fashion.
Heddinger's obituary said that she was "always exquisitely dressed in her classic style." Ferrara agreed that Heddinger "was always dressed to a T ... It was an inspiration to us. She knew how to put it together." It seems only appropriate that her grandson called her Grand Barbie.
Heddinger's memorial service was held at the Gibbes Museum of Art.
"I can think of no better place to celebrate my mother's life than here in one of her favorite places," her son Marty Turner eulogized.
In addition to her love of art, music, travel and adventure, Turner said she loved to laugh. "Her laughter was contagious and I can remember many times where she and I would laugh so hard, we could hardly breathe," he remembered.