I was stunned when I got a text message from a friend earlier today, informing me that Barbara Alby had passed away at the relatively young age of 66. Most FlashReport readers will not know Barbara, but many of you did. I first met Barbara back in 1988. There were a group of us that decided to focus our GOP efforts back in that time, as Reagan left office, on building up the California Republican Assembly, the state’s oldest Republican grassroots organization. Barbara was fresh off of the Pat Robertson bandwagon, and I had been a supporter of Jack Kemp, but first through the CRA, and through the California conservative movement, we began a friendship which has been one of the most impactful on my life.
On one level, many see Barbara as a very successful politico. After all, she served for many years as an influential Vice President of the California Republican Assembly. She went on to serve for six years in the California State Assembly, holding bold colors when many in the building, in our own party, would have preferred soft pastels. And Barbara served for twelve years as a member of the Republican National Committee representing our state. Barbara also served for many years as Chief of Staff to then Board of Equalization Member Bill Leonard, and served for a short time as his replacement when Leonard took a position in the Schwarzenegger Administration.
But to know Barbara on a personal level was to know that she overcame much in her life, especially in her earlier years. It was her faith in God, and the good fortune of finding and marrying her best friend Dennis (and raising a family with him), as well as some of the adversity that she faced early on, that fundamentally shaped the person who was Barbara Alby.
Barbara Alby came into my life at an impressionable time in my life. I was college activist, and very new to politics. In Barbara I found a sympathetic conservative friend who had taken a much different route than did I to become engaged in politics, we found a mutual respect and admiration for one-another. Barbara and I were part of a core group of CRA activists (too numerous to name here, but you know who you are) that really rolled up our sleeves and made things happen for many years — most notably through the CRA Presidencies of Bill Hoge, Rick Staats, Mike Schroeder, and Greg Hardcastle.. Before I was elected CRA President, Barbara had been elected to the state legislature. But in that role she stood out as a strong conservative leader, and CRA’s strongest ally in the legislature.
I have fond memories of the conservation that I had with Barbara back in 1996, where I first shared with her of this idea that with a change in the party bylaws, the Republican National Committeeman and Committeewoman for California could be elected by CRP delegates, instead of by delegation to the RNC Convention. I suggested that if we did this, she should consider running for the position (ultimately we did change the rule, and she and Tim Morgan ran in 1996 and were the first CRP-elected National Committee Members). For twelve years, Barbara was an outstanding voice and vote for California on the National Committee.
Like all longtime friends, we had periods of time when we were closer and others when we were more distant. But through it all there was always a bond born of those formative years in the CRA.
Her passing was sudden, and so I can only imagine how difficult a time this is for her husband, Dennis, and for all the Alby family. My sincerest sympathies go out to all of them.
Requiescat in pace, Barbara. I wish you eternal rest and peace.