Barbara Anne Sauerbery


Sauerbury, Barbara Anne

(1936 – 2022)

Born on September 3, 1936 to James and Wyoma Shea in St. Louis, Missouri, interior designer Barbara Anne (Shea) Sauerbrey moved frequently as a child. Her father was a controller for Montgomery Ward, and as a child Barbara spent time in Chicago, Grand Rapids, Boise, Eugene, and St. Louis, as well as Seattle.

While in high school, in 1951 the family moved to Seattle where Barbara was enrolled at Holy Names Academy. Upon graduating as valedictorian in 1954, she enrolled at the University of Oregon as an interior design major. While there, she met and married John M. Robertson in 1957. At the time, the two were young and the marriage lasted less than a year.

Perhaps wanting to start a new life, Barbara decided to move back to Seattle in the fall of 1958 and transferred her credits from the University of Oregon to the University of Washington. Within a year she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Interior Design (1959).

Shortly thereafter, she established her own consulting firm, practicing independently until her retirement in 2002. Quickly she established herself as a purveyor of taste in the Seattle/Bellevue area and was noted for her particular expertise in fabrics. In fact, she served at the Chair of PNW Chapter National Society of Interior Designers (NSID) International Fabrics Show in Seattle in 1970. Advertisements for homes in the local newspapers often highlighted that their homes had been decorated by Sauerbrey.

In 1961 she married William J. Sauerbrey and together they had two children, Gayle and Steven. While they divorced in 1984, Barbara retained her married name.

A frequent lecturer, she also contributed multiple years to the Seattle Designer Show Houses, an annual fundraiser for the Seattle Symphony. Sauerbrey often collaborated with fellow interior designer Stina Johannesen; joined her in organizing and co-chairing conferences (such as the West Coast Regional Conference of the National Society of Interior Designers).

Heavily involved in National Society of Interior Designers (NSID), she first served as Secretary of the Pacific Northwest branch of the NSID (1966) and then became Washington State chapter President (1967-1974). Upon the merger of the National Society of Interior Designers and the American Institute of the Interior Design (AID) in 1974, Sauerbrey became regional Vice President (1977), and regional President (1982). Her last post was serving as a National Director of District 1 (1991). Sauerbrey’s years of service lead her peers to elect her to the American Society of Interior Designers College of Fellows.

After moving to Bellevue in 1966, Sauerbrey was active in PTA, Overlake Hospital Auxiliaries, Overlake Hospital Board, and Somerset Women for Medic 1. She served as president of the Woodridge Community Association for 27 years, speaking frequently at city council meetings, organizing community events, writing newsletters and commissioning a sculpture for the neighborhood entrance.

In addition to her interior design work, she was exceptionally artistic and handy, skilled in everything from painting to woodworking, to large-scale renovations. She enjoyed gardening, playing bridge, sewing, crafting, reading, traveling abroad with friends, and cooking and baking for special occasions. She was devoutly Catholic and was a congregant of St. Madeleine Sophie in Bellevue.

Sauerbrey passed away in Bellevue on January 20, 2022 and is buried at the Sunset Hills Memorial Park.

– Michael C. Houser

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