Barbara Smucker was born in Newton, Kansas, in 1915 where she also graduated from Kansas State University in 1936 with a degree in journalism. It was while working as a journalist that she met her husband Donovan Smucker, a Mennonite minister from Ohio. The young couple married in 1939 and spent many years living throughout the United States. By the late 1960s they were living in Mississippi and it was there that she found herself deeply affected by the civil rights movement. She moved with her husband and three children to Canada in 1969 where Donovan took a teaching position at the University of Waterloo. Barbara Smucker embarked on a new career as a librarian at the Kitchener Public Library, where she noticed there were few good books for children on the history of slavery. Barbara wrote Underground to Canada, Days Of Terror, Amish Adventure, White Mist, Jacob's Little Giant, Incredible Jumbo, and Garth and the Mermaid. She won several awards including the Canada Council Children’s Literature Prize in 1979 and the Brotherhood Award from the National Conference of Christians and Jews in 1980. She was also awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Waterloo in 1986. Barbara and Donovan retired to Donovan's hometown of Bluffton, Ohio, in 1994. In 2003, Barbara Smucker died in Bluffton, Ohio at the age of 87. After her death, Barbara was remembered not only for her writing career but also for her humanity and generosity. “She just glowed,” said a colleague. “She was so serene, her lovely face was so calm.”
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