My name is David Bohnett and I had the good fortune to be one of Barbara Lesser’s bridge students. For the last six or seven years, Barbara and I would play several afternoons a week at the bridge club, sometimes five days a week, and from time to time travel to New York, Las Vegas, and even Hawaii to play in bridge tournaments. I thought I was the luckiest guy in the world to find a teacher like Barbara, and our relationship soon turned into a dear and close friendship.
We spent years of afternoons together, and there wasn’t a session that went by that I didn’t learn something new about bridge and something new about Barbara and the family. Family was the most important thing in the world to Barbara, and not in a way that defined who Barbara was, but her love for her family and her family’s love in return enabled Barbara to be the wonderful, giving, and caring person the world knew her to be.
Jason, Holly and Stacey, you made your Mother so happy by living productive lives and by showing her how much you cherished her guidance, love, and support. Your Mother had a special place in her heart for each one of you, and you three were her greatest pride and joy. How often I heard about Barbara’s love for her grandchildren, Erica, Zachary and Chelsea, and the blessed new miracles Jake and Chloe. And there was one thing that Barbara was always certain of and from which she gained much strength, and that was how much she loved her dear Bob and the knowledge of how much she was loved in return. Barbara would remark often, and in great awe and admiration, at how when Bob married Barbara, he was getting the whole family package in the bargain. Barbara and Bob had a bridge and life partnership that brought them both great happiness and joy.
True to most bridge partnerships and student / teacher relationships, Barbara and I had our share of highs and lows at the bridge table. There was many a time when we were well ahead by the middle of the session, only to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by the time the afternoon was over. In these cases, there were often phone calls later in the day going over this hand and that, with the hope that I, the student, would not make the same mistake again. But, often enough, Barbara and I played well, winning our fair share of the time.
I will always be grateful for Barbara’s special pride in the times we had played well and that I had earned her respect as a bridge player. We had a special bond, with me as the student and Barbara as the teacher and for each of us, that dynamic added a sense of challenge and richness at the bridge table and beyond.
Everyone here is well aware of Barbara’s quick sense of humor, which seemed especially keen at the bridge table. After one particularly challenging hand, I asked Barbara, “How should I have played that hand”, and without skipping a beat, Barbara replied “under an assumed name”. More than a few times I screwed up an easily makeable contract and cost us first place, and every time Barbara would see the humor in the situation and lift my spirits and self-esteem.
Along with her sense of humor, Barbara had a great sense of curiosity and a sharp intellectual and analytical mind. Our connections with Barbara were so strong because they were so multi-faceted. It wasn’t just bridge that brought us together with Barbara; it was a shared interest in any variety of topics, including culture, music, politics, family, and world affairs. Barbara was a renaissance woman who had a great appetite for knowledge, experience and new ideas.
One thing we all shared in each of our relationships with Barbara was a sense of great stability and solidity. Barbara was someone you could count on, really count on in a way that was unique and special. And we, in turn, strived to be someone that Barbra knew she could count on in return.
In the midst of those halcyon days when we were playing nearly every day at the club, there was an indescribable sense of security in knowing that there was an afternoon of bridge and companionship ahead of us, and that there would be another, and another, tomorrow, and next week, and the week after. It’s like knowing that your Mother will always be there when you come home from school.
Well, those afternoons, evenings, dinners and gatherings when we knew we’d see Barbara, have come to an end for us all. To quote Shakespeare, because I know Barbara would like that, from Hamlet;
‘Thou know'st 'tis common; all that lives must die, Passing through nature to eternity.
We all loved Barbara very much, because we knew how much she loved each one of us. Barbara, our afternoons at the bridge club are over for now, but please save a seat for me at your bridge table in the hereafter and I’ll be there before you know it. I love you very much.