Barbara Jiongo

Barbara Lynn Jiongo

1956 - 2024

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Obituary of Barbara Lynn Jiongo

Barbara Lynn Waldron Jiongo earned her angel wings and went to be with our Lord on Thursday, May 9, 2024, surrounded by her loving family.

Barbara was born May 28, 1956, in Fort Worth to Dorothy Lou Ritchie Waldron and Arthur Burch Waldron, Jr. 

Service: 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, May 15th at First Presbyterian Church in Fort Worth with a reception to follow at Rivercrest Country Club at 1:00 p.m. 

Barbara was a wonderful wife, mother, grandmother (Honey Bunny), sister, aunt and friend to a cast of thousands.  She was kind to everyone from the mailman to the janitor to the car mechanic to her fellow teachers and administrators and executives in board rooms across Texas; all were equally important in her eyes.  She loved without reservation and made everyone feel as if they were the only person in the room whenever she greeted them.  She would listen, truly listen, to everyone with whom she came in contact.  Her presence was warm and assuring throughout all of life’s triumphs and travails. A devoted Christian who studied her Bible daily, her life was a witness to all of her faith in Jesus Christ. She was a lifelong member of First Presbyterian Church of Fort Worth and felt a very close connection to her fellow parishioners and the ministers. 

Barbara was born on May 28, 1956, into a loving family with devoted parents, Dorothy Lou Ritchie Waldron and Arthur Burch Waldron, Jr.  The Waldrons had three children; first came Burch, then Barbara and then little sister, Beth.  Barbara began her education in Ft. Worth schools and graduated from R. L. Paschal High School in 1974.  Through her formative years, she forged permanent friendships with dear friends that she cherished for her entire life.  She earned her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from the University of Texas in Austin in 1977 with high honors and her Master of Education from Texas Christian University in 1978.  She earned her credentials as a Registered Professional Educational Diagnostician in 1984.  Her first professional position was following in her mother’s footsteps at The Key School.  Her mother taught the most challenged children in the Key School program for over 20 years.  Barbara was inspired by her mother’s dedication and wanted to be a part of the solution for education for all children regardless of their abilities.

Barbara was well respected as an academician during her career.  She found a true home for her career at Fort Worth Country Day.  She was originally hired in 1986 as a Private Educational Diagnostician for standardized kindergarten testing.  She progressed in her career to become the Assistant Director of Admissions in 1988 and was subsequently promoted to the Director of Admissions and Financial Aid in 1995.  She took pride in building a financial aid program to diversify the demographic at Country Day and support well-deserving families who wanted to attend FWCD but needed assistance. Fairness could have been Barbara’s middle name; she believed in it, and she fought for it.  She and her husband, Mike, established a financial aid program and dedicated it to her parents: the Dorothy and A.B. Waldron Memorial Fund for Financial Aid.  She and Mike have contributed substantially to that fund for many years.  Her colleagues remember her as teaching them: “It doesn’t matter if a prospective family is rich or poor, everyone gets the million-dollar tour.”  That was classic Barbara!  She was instrumental in FWCD becoming one of the founding Malone Family Foundation Schools which came with an initial $2 million dollar grant for need based financial aid.  The school maintains a continued relationship with the Malone Foundation to this day. Becoming a Malone Foundation School quickly led to four additional named scholarships being established at Fort Worth Country Day.  Barbara saw the need for an Admissions professionals organization and was instrumental in FWCD becoming a founding member of AISAP: The Association of Independent School Admission Professionals.  Because of her background as a diagnostician, she led the way bringing in-service opportunities to the FWCD campus which dealt with learning differences.  She was a pioneer in networking with area diagnosticians to help families in need receive a thorough and affordable educational evaluation for their child.  She was also instrumental in developing the FWCD Admission Process.  She was adamant that FWCD follow this process because she knew that families were looking for the " right fit" for their child.  It is a process that has been copied over and over by many schools…because it works.   She also developed the "Make it Take it" professional workshop for preschools in the area.  Every August, preschool teachers would come on to our campus for an in-service day complete with great door prizes.  Camp Read S'more, Popsicles on the Playground, and the Parent Ambassador Program were all her brainstorms designed to help new families admitted to FWCD be welcomed and made to feel a part of the learning community before the school year started.  Barbara cared deeply for those who worked with her in the Admissions office.  They became sisters who never lost touch with each other.  If for some reason Barbara could not offer admission to a student, she worked tirelessly to help the parents find a school that was the right fit.  Often, she would call ahead on behalf of the family to help pave the way. Working relationships with many different schools in Fort Worth was the result, and FWCD still benefits from her building those relationships today.  When an international student at FWCD needed a host family and one could not be found, “Mama J” opened up her home. As one can see, FWCD is a staple in the Jiongo family as all three of Barbara’s children are FWCD alumni: Meredith, class of 2003, John class of 2012, and Maddie class of 2014.

In her retirement years, Barbara worked harder than most people do their entire career.  She chose to retire when her youngest child graduated from FWCD.  She stated that she was “graduating” along with Maddie.  In retirement, she was very involved in charitable work as well as serving in organizations that were near and dear to her heart.  She served as the Chair of LINK-Ed (Linking Ability to Learning), a nonprofit organization that provides a centralized regional resource center with affordable educational testing to enhance the success of individuals of all ages with learning differences and disabilities.  This organization went to the heart of Barbara as she believed that every individual deserves a community that honors the competencies and potential of every learning style.  She joined the Board of Directors in 2008 and worked tirelessly as a board member assisting with numerous projects, participating on multiple sub-committees and served as Chairman of the Board for several terms.  Her enthusiasm and leadership skills garnered her the reputation as a “force of nature!”  Not one to sit back and direct others, Barbara was always ready to roll up her sleeves and assist with any task that supported the organization and its vision. 

Barbara was also an advocate for women who have experienced human trafficking. Inspired by her daughter, Maddie, she served many women in their journeys towards healing and empowerment through an organization called The NET.   This organization, founded in 2010, began with a handful of passionate college students who started building relationships with people experiencing homelessness.  They quickly learned that because poverty is rooted in broken relationships, the people they were meeting needed friendship and a network of support more than they needed material handouts.  Through several years of mentoring refugee youth and sharing meals and building relationships with folks experiencing homelessness, they regularly met and formed friendships with vulnerable women and girls in Ft. Worth.  While spending time with them, they repeatedly saw the ways that violence, trauma and poverty lead to situations of sexual exploitation and trafficking.  By walking alongside these women, building friendships and hearing their stories, they began to learn how complicated the issue of sex trafficking is.  To “get out of the sex industry,” they needed more than just rehab and probation. More than anything, they needed a supportive community who would commit to coming alongside them, despite the trauma and hardships of their pasts, as they rebuilt their lives and walked forward in freedom.

Barbara also served an organization called The Greatest Gift Catalog Ever.  This is an organization that truly spoke Barbara’s love language.  The Greatest Gift Catalog Ever is a nonprofit organization committed to amplifying the mission and messages of local charities who benefit Tarrant County neighbors in need.  Barbara was instrumental in not only helping introduce the organization to amazing people, but she was an incredible resource for what organizations would be good fits for the catalog.  She chaired the selection committee for the last seven years and was instrumental in refining the processes that helped it find great organizations to support.  She never wanted recognition or credit for all that she had done.  She did not care for the recognition; she just cared about making an impact in the world and helping those who needed help.

Barbara and her beloved husband, Mike, deeply enjoyed traveling.   They went on many trips throughout the United States enjoying fun times with family and friends playing golf in Pebble Beach, California, enjoying the Ryder Cup in Minnesota, seeing the sights in Boston, Vail, Carmel and Vermont.  A highlight was an Alaskan cruise with 14 family members.  She and Mike explored more of the world than just the U.S. as they went to Russia, France, Italy, Nicaragua, Scotland, the Baltic and cruised Quebec.  All her travels yielded fabulous memories, but her true “happy place” was her family’s ranch in Cotulla, Texas where she and Mike hosted friends for Friendsgiving each year leading into a family Thanksgiving.  She would say, “I’ve traveled all over the world, but there is nothing as beautiful as sunrise or sunset at the Ritchie Ranch in Cotulla, Texas.”

She is survived by her husband, Mike, her three children: Meredith (James) Qualls of Houston, John (Michelle) Jiongo of Fort Worth and Maddie (Henry) Abbott of Birmingham, Alabama.  Her pride and joy are her four grandsons: Jackson and A.J. Qualls, Dutch Jiongo and Charlie Abbott and a new baby on the way.  She is also survived by her brother, Burch Waldron and his wife Lisa.  Burch was her best friend; they were inseparable as their lives intertwined around each other’s families for their entire life.  She is also survived by her sweet sister, Beth (Craig) Collins and her niece, Waldron Collins.  Her life was enriched by numerous cousins and friends she truly adored.

Barbara’s greatest gift to all of us was the example she set in her grace and trust in God.  She gave selflessly of her time, talents and treasures to help others.  We are all immeasurably blessed to have known her in this life.  And while it is impossible to overstate the degree to which all those who loved her will mourn the loss of her temporal presence, her family takes solace in knowing she was welcomed into Heaven with open arms as our Lord and Savior said, “Well done good and faithful servant.”

Her family requests that in lieu of flowers, any tokens of appreciation and friendship be shown by donations in Barbara’s name to:

The Greatest Gift Catalog Ever

Key School  



The NET   


Memorial Service

11:30 am
Wednesday, May 15, 2024
First Presbyterian Church of Fort Worth
1000 Penn St.
Fort Worth, Texas, United States
(817) 335-1231