Barrington left her mark on the county


Jacqueline “Jacky” Barrington, died March 9, after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer in early February. Barrington, best known for her 22 years as publisher of the Magdalena Mountain Mail, began publishing the local newspaper in November, 1980.



Barrington’s youngest son, Tom Barrington, said his mother was not a competitive person, but felt most comfortable simply observing people and taking photographs of the things she saw.

“Everyone liked Jacky,” Tom said. “She was fair and she was honest. She treated everyone the way she wanted to be treated. She was a very kind-hearted woman.”

Barrington started the Magdalena Mountain Mail as a monthly newspaper, focusing on ranching, politics and mining in the area. She also turned her attention to learning and writing about the history of the people and the events happening around her.

In 1994, Barrington expanded the newspaper and started publishing it weekly, covering additional events such as local school board meetings, village meetings and the Old-Timers Association.

“She started the monthly (newspaper) as a way for the community to learn about the past and what was going on around town,” Tom said. “She felt there was no news outlet (in Magdalena) and most (news) was by word of mouth.”

Barrington even adopted the original masthead from a newspaper called the Mountain Mail that was published in 1888 by two brothers, Tom said.

“She essentially duplicated it,” her son explained. “She picked up where the brothers left off. Her first issue was ‘Vol. 2 – No. 1.’”

But publishing wasn’t her only love.

Barrington earned her bachelor’s degree from Marquette University, in 1966, and went on to earn her Master’s in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin, in 1968. She worked for years as a counselor for inner city women trying to turn their lives around and dedicated her life to helping those in need. Tom remembers her bringing home some of those she counseled so she could keep an eye on them.

“That’s how much she cared,” Tom recalls. “These were really troubled women and she wasn’t going to allow them to fail.”

Barrington’s daughter, Kathy Spuhler, wrote in an e-mail that her mother also loved to travel and “was an example of how to check off all the things on your ‘bucket list.’”

“My grandfather came from England as a young man in his early 20s, literally ‘running away’ to America, where he became a successful business man; and my grandparents, too, traveled in the ’50s and ’60s. Perhaps travel was in the genes,” Kathy said.

During Barrington’s time as a publisher, she also worked for the Department of Defense in Iceland and Okinawa, Japan, counseling school-aged children. It was through her work overseas that she had the opportunity to visit places such as China, New Zealand, Turkey and most of Europe.

Even though she was working overseas several months of the year, from 1988 to 1993, Barrington continued to publish the Magdalena Mountain Mail.

“People would send her news and other stories and she’d edit it, did the paste up and sent it back to be published,” Tom said.

Tom, who worked with his mother at the paper, said sometimes there were mistakes in the pasting and cutting in the layout of the paper, but he fondly remembers her saying that it gave the paper character.

“She was dedicated to whatever course that came her way,” Tom said, describing his mother’s work ethic.

Spuhler said Jacky first traveled to New Mexico from Wichita, Kans., in the 1930s with her mother and grandmother.

“Coming from a heritage of strong, determined women encouraged Jacky to follow her interests throughout life,” Spuhler wrote.

Barrington also edited two books: Celebrating 100 years of Frontier Living and Langford Ryan Johnston’s Old Magdalena Cow Town.

“She had an appreciation of history,” Tom said.

The last issue of the Magdalena Mountain Mail appeared on March 18, 2002.

Barrington spent her retirement with family in addition to traveling and working with the Sierra Club. She often took her grandchildren with her on these trips.

Spuhler wrote that Barrington split her time between Naperville, Ill.; with her son Terrence in Castle Rock, Colo.; near her daughters Kathy and Victoria; and the Village of Magdalena, where her youngest son, Tom, still lives.

“She always returned to Magdalena, where her heart remained with the Magdalena Mountain Mail and the open spaces,” Spuhler wrote.

Tom said his mother had a drawer full of interviews from people that are no longer living and had planned to do another book.

“On the day she died, she said ‘maybe I should start on that,’” Tom said of his mother’s cavalier attitude.

Barrington is survived by her four children, Kathy, Victoria, Terrence and Tom; nine grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren; and her sister, Barbara Slover of Cheney, Kans.

“She taught and encouraged independence and lifelong learning to all of us,” Spuhler wrote. “She is dearly missed.”


Contact Jackie Schlotfeldt