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Madison Literacy Council
Educational Consultant and Lecturer
Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators
BAM: Obituaries, The Classes, September/October 2003
Barbara Payton Allen Bliss '40, of Madison, Wis.; May 21, suddenly.She was an educational consultant and lecturer who taught adult dyslexics and trained teachers to use the Orton-Gillingham approach to teaching phonics.She taught hundreds of children and adults how to read and trained more than 1,000 reading tutors; she was active in that work until her death.She devoted her career to helping people overcome dyslexia after serving as a guidance counselor in Barneveld, Wis., from 1969 to 1976.She wrote three editions of Understanding and Using the Orton-Gillingham Approach to the Teaching of Reading and Spelling.She was president of the Madison Literacy Council and the Wisconsin branch of the International Dyslexia Association.A fellow of the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators, she was an elder and a choir member at Dale Heights Presbyterian Church.She previously taught high school biology in Newtonville, Mass.
WI Branch IDA â€” Qualified tutors
Barbara BlissWI Branch IDA , Qualified tutorsIn Memorium , Barbara BlissBarbara Bliss, known around Wisconsin as "The Dyslexia Lady", passed away suddenly at her home in Madison.Barbara (known to all of us as "Barb") was 84 years old at the time of her death, a surprising fact which we all found out on Wednesday.She was a very private women, who had always preferred to have her many followers attend to her message and concern for people with dyslexia rather than to herself . She felt that if people would know her age, they would dismiss her message as that of a "little old lady".To most of us, however, Barb was an ageless dynamo whose endless strength and stamina were a constant source of envy and delight.Barb received her B.A. from Pembroke College in Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island in 1940, and taught high school Biology in Massachusetts from 1943-46.Her husband, Gordon, died suddenly at the age of 48, and Barb was left to care for her four children on her own.In 1973 Barb earned her M.S. in Guidance and Counseling from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and between 1969-1976 she was a K-12 Guidance Counselor in the Barnaveld School District.It was then that Barb observed that many of the "behavior problem" students referred to her for counseling could not read nor write well, and saw that as the root of their problems.Photo of Barb Bliss without glasses(Click on image to get 600 dpi 26 mb image) After her retirement from Barnaveld, Barb started volunteering as a tutor with the Wisconsin Literacy Council while taking care, at her home, of her ailing mother-in-law and being active at the Dale Heights Presbyterian Church.It was then that she became frustrated with the poor progress of some of her adult students who appeared to have more deep-seated problems with the printed word, and decided to investigate dyslexia.In 1982 Barb travelled to Minneapolis, MN to obtain her training in the Orton-Gillingham Method in a workshop taught by Ms. Arlene Sonday, a renowned researcher in the area of dyslexia and the author of The Sonday System.The Wisconsin Branch of the Society was established in 1985, with Barb as one of its first Board of Directors member.The Orton Dyslexia Society is now known as the International Dyslexia Association (IDA).Barb has served as a Board member, Vice President and President of the Branch since 1985.In her years of required leave from the Board, she was a member of its Advisory Council and Nominating Committee. During her 23 years on the Board, Barb had missed only very few meetings, usually because she was conducting training workshops around Wisconsin.Since 1982, Barb had tutored hundreds of dyslexic people for little, if any charge , usually for exchange or bartering.Since 1984 she had conducted Orton-Gillingham Training Workshops and trained over 2000 tutors in Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois, through public and private schools, technical colleges, public libraries and churches. Barb is the author of Understanding and Using the Orton-Gillingham Approach to the Teaching of Reading and Spelling (1990, 1993, 1998), a text used nationally and internationally.She has formed her own business - "Associated Orton-Gillingham Tutors", for continuing training opportunities of LD and classroom teachers.Barb started and maintained the monthly Dane County Dyslexia Support Group in Madison.Barb was a Fellow of the Academy of Orton Gillingham Practitioners and Educators (AOGPE), and served as the President of the Madison Literacy Council.She was an Advisory Board member of Madison Area Technical College; a member of the Dane County Literacy Consortium, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Masonic Children's Learning Center in Madison.Barb presented in numerous conferences nationally, and was a beloved and highly esteemed guest lecturer in various universities, professional associations, medical establishments and school systems across the U.S.We all watched Barb breathless, envious of her brilliant "retirement career", deeply touched by her devotion and passion and amazed by her tenacity, tranquility and enormous soul.Barbara left four children, Nancy (shook), Janet Reuff and Donald and William Bliss, and seven grandchildren. As we gathered to undertake the continuation of Barb's 2003 four Summer Training Workshops, our group of twelve or so educators struggled with but a small piece of the work of this amazing one women. We all felt that we will probably never be able to replace Barb, her brilliant mind, her determination and her empathy. We will miss Barb deeply.Farewell Dear Friend.
Barbara Bliss, Beechcroft, Gloucester Road, Ross on Wye, Herefordshire