Barbara Jean Eldridge
Barbara Jean Eldridge (née Nacnodovitz), was born in Englewood Cliffs, NJ on August 30, 1947 into a boisterous extended Polish-American family (including parents Jean and Walter Nacnodovitz and brother Walter Jr.). Growing up in multicultural North Bergen, NJ, she enjoyed sports, made easy friends with people from diverse backgrounds, and was the first to graduate from college in her family - working her way through undergraduate (Jersey City State College) and graduate (New York University) degrees while holding down jobs, taking care of her family, and commuting by bus.
A proud baby boomer with a keen sense of fairness, Barbara Jean earnestly participated in the socio-cultural movements of the 1960s and 70s: against the war in Vietnam and in support of civil rights and gender equality. In later years she spoke out in support of LGBTQ+ rights and systemic racism - she always felt drawn to defend those abused, disenfranchised, or exploited by others and inspired her two children to pursue careers in social work and international development.
She worked at the United Nations before going into a long career as a college advisor for Vietnam veterans at Jersey City State College. An adventurous and fearless traveler, Barbara Jean met her match, Robert Fales Eldridge, in 1984 while traveling in Peru. Not long thereafter, the two married and moved together to Montgomery County, MD, eventually settling in bucolic Boyds, MD.
Barbara Jean often said that she was born to be a mother and accordingly devoted her heart and her mind to her children, Sara Jean, and Matthew Robert. She encouraged their interests, challenged them to reach far, and showed unconditional and unfailing love and support. She gave the best hugs, the warmest smiles, and always knew the right thing to say. While a practicing Catholic herself, she was not afraid to critique the church and encouraged her children to follow their own hearts on faith.
An avid reader who could go through several books a day, she was passionately interested in history (particularly the Civil War and British royalty) and murder mysteries. She had a remarkable knack for striking up conversations with anyone she met, always stood up for herself and others, and cooked an impressive Polish feast every Christmas.
She had an enviable flair for dramatism and silliness - imbuing the home with a joyful and dynamic spirit - and enjoyed visiting national parks, Civil War battlefields, scenic wineries, historic bed and breakfasts, and, above all else, the coast, particularly the rocky, windswept shores of Maine and Nova Scotia.
She passed away on July 9, 2021 and was survived by her husband and children.
LEAVE A CONDOLENCE MESSAGE
From: Andrea and Ryan
We only had the chance to interact with her once or twice but saw the kind and lively spirit of her and see the banner carried beautifully by her kids. We are so sorry for your loss.
From: Cheryl Craig
I'm so sorry. Three words that don't seem like enough when a loved one passes, but at the same time can say so much. My heart aches for you all. Such a lovely tribute. I know that her family was her pride and joy. Love to you all.
From: Carolyn and Robert Jackson
What a lovely remembrance to BJ. I still have her recipe for a spinach dip called Susan's Dip that she served! God Bless.
From: Andy Stickel
Bob, deepest condolences to you and your children. Sending you warm thoughts and prayers.
From: Maurine Atkinson
A very lovely obituary for a remarkable women. I know her children were her pride and joy. My condolences.
From: The Hilton Family
We would like to express our sincere condolences to you and your family.