Obit: Townsend, Barbara Jo (1938? - 2014)
Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon
Surnames: Townsend, Portz, Haslow, Lutz, Trappe, Calabresa, Fischer, Barney, Brooks, Boettrcher. Trinklein, Trewyn, Kelly, Garner, Prosser
----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co, WI) 11/12/2014
Townsend, Barbara Jo (1938? - 2 November 2014)
Barbara Jo Haslow Townsend, 76, of Madison, who gained statewide fame in 1958 when she was chosen as Alice in Dairyland, has died.
Townsend, a native of Chili, passed away Sunday, Nov. 2, 2014, at her home in Madison.
She was one of four finalists for the state crown after besting dozens of other finalists in the summer of 1958 to reach the Alice in Dairyland competition that was held in conjunction with the Wisconsin State Fair in West Allis.
The other three finalists were Constance Lutz of Oconto, Jane Trappe of Green Bay and Carol Ann Calabresa of Milwaukee.
The daughter of Ervin and Dorothy (Portz) Haslow, she was a 1956 Marshfield High School graduate and became the first of two women from her county to win the annual Alice in Dairyland competition, which operated by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture. (Amy Fischer of Loyal won the state title in 1999 in Antigo)
Townsend was the second to last winner chosen in West Allis and in the month of August. In 1960, the Alice program moved to June and was held in various cities throughout the state in succeeding decades, including Marshfield in 1961, Loyal in 1979, Neillsville in 2001, Wisconsin Rapids in 2002 and Curtiss in 2014.
Townsend crowned Merrie Jule Barney of Burlington, who currently lives in Freeport, IL as her successor in 1959, the last year the Alice program was held in West Allis during the Wisconsin State Fair.
This year’s Alice finals were held last May in Curtiss in Clark County. However, Townsend was unable to travel to her home county to attend the 2014 Alice competition, which was was by 2014 UW-Madison graduate Zoey Leigh Brooks of rural Waupaca.
After graduating from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Townsend married Antigo native William Baker Townsend Nov. 24, 1962, in Chili, and she had a successful teaching career in the Madison area. The couple purchased the famed Copper Grid bar on Monroe Street in Madison in 1966, which was a popular place for sports fans attending basketball and football games across the street. They operated the business for 35 years and it was later torn down in 2008 to make way for a hotel.
The couple leaves behind two daughters, Catherine and Susan, who wrote in their mother’s obituary, “She enjoyed working at the Copper Grid, especially behind the bar, booking blue grass music or chipping onions for busy Badgers football Saturdays, and she enjoyed the company of staff and meeting customers.”
Coincidentally, her husband, who died Nov. 20, 2013, passed away after a 20-year-long battle with Parkinson’s disease, which also claimed her life.
She was crowned Alice in Dairyland Aug. 24, 1958, by her predecessor Nancy Kay Trewyn of Whitewater. In an interesting twist, this summer there was much speculation as to who was the Alice in Dairyland that was featured in a black and white photograph found by a pair of Wisconsin television producers, Steve Boettrcher and Michael Trinklein.
The picture, taken April 21, 1958, in Hollywood that was later published in the September 1958 issue of Look Magazine, shows Trewyn presenting a box of Wisconsin cheese to actors Jack Kelly and James Garner, the stars of the hit western program “Maverick,” which ran on ABC from 1957 to 1962.
As previously told in many media reports this summer, the television producers had asked the public to help identify the unknown Alice in Dairyland in the picture. Some of the several dozen citizens erroneously claimed it was Barbara, the 1958 Alice in Dairyland.
When asking during a telephone interview earlier this year if she was the Alice in Dairyland who is featured in the picture with the two handsome popular television actors, Townsend laughed and said, “I could only wish.”
Eventually, Trewyn’s husband, Thomas Prosser of Neenah, and her brother, Ronald W. Trewyn, confirmed that the lovely woman flanked by the two actors was indeed Nancy Kay Trewyn, who grew up on a farm in the Palmyra area and had attended the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.
In the aftermath of James Garner’s death, the producers had hoped to solve the mystery of which Alice in Dairyland was photographed with the Hollywood actors after the picture was shown in dozens of tributes to the late actor in July.
Coincidentally, both Barbara and Nancy married men from Antigo, and they enjoyed the field of education. Barbara operated a nursery school and also taught in the children’s unit of the University Hospital in Madison. Nancy enjoyed teaching Sun day school lessons and autistic children in Neenah.
Trewyn, the first Alice winner from Jefferson County, later married Thomas Prosser in October 1958, while wearing her Alice in Dairyland crown to hold the bridal veil. They had three children. She died of a stroke June 15, 1999.
A memorial service for Barbara Haslow Townsend will be held at Holy Wisdom Monastery in Middleton, Nov. 22, 2014.
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