Skip to main content

Barbara R. Sarason

Barbara was born in Chicago on June 13, 1929 and died on September 19, 2017. She was the daughter of John and Esther Ryrholm. They moved to Indianapolis where Barbara attended public schools, graduating as valedictorian of her class at Broad Ripple High School. After graduating from DePauw University, she worked for a year in Chicago as a psychometrist. In 1952 she began her studies in clinical psychology at the University of Iowa where she and her husband Irwin met. Barbara received a Master’s degree at Iowa. She and Irwin got their PhDs in clinical psychology from Indiana University, and then completed their clinical internships.

In 1956, they moved to Seattle. Barbara was president of the Seattle League of Women Voters. She later joined the Psychology Department of the University of Washington as a Research Professor. She was the author of many articles and books. Her Abnormal Psychology textbook, written with Irwin, went through eleven editions and has been widely used throughout the world. Barbara’s major research interests were in interpersonal relationships and the social support they provide for people.  Her Social Support Questionnaire has been employed in thousands of research studies worldwide and has been translated into many languages. Barbara was a leader in the study of interpersonal relationships, an editor of several journals in that field, and a co-founder of an international organization concerned with the study of social ties. Barbara retired in 2000, although she continued her writing and research. She influenced the development of many graduate and undergraduate students who valued greatly what she contributed to their lives. Barbara was a fellow of Sigma Xi, the American Psychological Association, the Western Psychological Association, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She received the Lifetime Contribution Award of the Washington State Psychological Association.

Barbara had many interests. Her League of Women Voters presidency illustrates her involvement in public affairs. She enjoyed reading, music, and art. She was a wonderful cook (she created a cookbook of her recipes for her children.) Barbara valued opportunities for travel, especially living in England for a year and in the Netherlands for 18 months. She and Irwin gave lecture series in Japan and many lectures in Australia and throughout Europe. Barbara had a great interest in architecture and especially enjoyed visiting churches and cathedrals throughout Europe.
Barbara was especially interested in the development of children and their intellectual, athletic and cultural lives.
Barbara will be deeply missed by her husband Irwin and their three children, Suzanne, Jane, and Donald; her grandchildren Joshua, Natalie, Gabriela, and Daniel; and and her sister Mary Ann Shubert and her brother-in-law Bruce. She will also be missed by her daughter-in-law Peggy and son-in-law Justin and by Chris DiGiusto. Barbara wish was to be cremated and at her request there will be no funeral services, but a memorial in the future is being planned.


Make a donation to The Co-op Funeral Home of People's Memorial