THE END

BARBARA JOYCE SCHEY

1938-2007 All her life she was precise, elegant and athletic, until a stumble set off a sudden chain of calamities

NANCY MACDONALD March 26 2007
THE END

BARBARA JOYCE SCHEY

1938-2007 All her life she was precise, elegant and athletic, until a stumble set off a sudden chain of calamities

NANCY MACDONALD March 26 2007

BARBARA JOYCE SCHEY

1938-2007 All her life she was precise, elegant and athletic, until a stumble set off a sudden chain of calamities

THE END

Barbara Minn., Joyce an industrial Schey was port born town on June on Lake 6,1938, Superior. in Duluth, She was the second of two children born to Joyce Ball Raymond and John F. Ball, a lawyer, who later became a judge. The Balls were a prominent, middle-class family and lived in a four-bedroom Dutch colonial house on a lake road lined with mansions. John was a partner in the family firm Ball, Ball and Gall

with his father Leo, one of Duluth’s 19th-century pioneers, and Leo’s associate Thomas Gall.

Typical small-town lawyers, their casework ranged from divorces to criminal trials “to just about anything that walked through the door,” says Barbara’s brother,

John Jr., four years her senior.

Barb, as she was known, was close to her gregarious yet gentle father, and heartbroken after his death from intestinal cancer when she was just 21.

Elegant and trim, Barb was a homecoming queen twice, first as a senior at Duluth’s East High School, then in college, during the University of Minnesota’s annual winter celebration, Snow Week. In spite of her popularity,

Barb could hardly wait to escape Duluth. She decamped for New York City soon after graduating from the University of MinnesotaDuluth, and rarely returned.

Barb arrived in Manhattan in 1961 and found an apartment in a five-storey brownstone off Cen-

tral Park. Crime was on the rise, and “she had about six locks on her door,” says John, who visited occasionally from the Midwest. Yet Barb drank up the noise and fun of big-city life, particularly the emerging nightclub culture. John remembers Barb’s real-estate developer boyfriend, Bob Schey, whom she later married, buying him expensive cigars on the street after a night spent dancing among New York’s young and prominent.

Barb worked in the New York fashion industry, first at Lord & Taylor, a department store on Fifth Avenue, then for the fashion board at Sears, Roebuck & Co. She quickly dropped her flat Minnesota accent in favour of something more cultured and Mid-Atlantic. “She had an air about her,” says Barb’s niece Suzanne Olsen. “In others it would be termed cocky.” To her Midwestern niece, however, Barb’s poise and confidence seemed “royalty-like.” Like her accent, Barb’s mannerisms grew more assured and exact in the big city. She even typed her cheques and Post-it notes.

Her husband, Bob, was a typical Manhattan developer, John remembers: risk-happy and bold. When not in New York, the couple shuttled between Aspen, Colo., where, as a college student, Barb had spent a spring skiing, and Sarasota, Fla., where Bob had various development projects. Their marriage crumbled, however, and after the divorce, Barb decided to move to the Aspen area in 1974.

Soon after arriving, she joined the Aspen Real Estate Co. She became a top-selling broker—a lucrative career in a stratospheric market where the average home now costs US$4.5 million.

Although Barb, the cosmopolitan, kept her trademark deepred lipstick, she changed in Colorado. She grew to love the outdoors and the breathtaking mountain views. “I can just see her stopping her clients and saying, ‘Just look!’ and really meaning it,” says Suzanne. Barb skied, rode her horse, Catch-22, up and down the Roaring Fork Valley, and became an avid hiker and cyclist, all with typical precision and rigour. “She was a natural in that environment,” says John.

On Friday, Feb. 23, Barb stepped out onto the snow-covered patio of her Basalt, Colo., condo, which had a mountain view she adored, and tripped over an extension cord plugged into the outer wall. She was sent flying, her head struck the deck’s wooden railing,

and she sustained a deep, three-inch gash across her forehead. Disoriented and bloodied, investigators believe, Barb managed to pull herself to her feet, then somehow toppled off the deck. She dropped four metres, breaking three ribs when she landed. Barb got up once more and staggered across the yard, but fell into a shallow irrigation ditch where Basalt police found her body the next morning. “There had been a horrible snowstorm,” says her close friend Carla Van Alstyne, speculating as to why no one came to Barb’s aid.

In Barb’s kitchen, investigators found a plate of finely chopped vegetables and a quarter-pound of butter beside the stove. The gas burner was on, and a frying pan had gone purple, hot from the flame. Throughout her life, Barb had kept a meticulous diary. Her last entry was written at 7 p.m., just before police believe Barb walked out on the deck. She had made a note to herself to get her 'OompfrteKBied. BY NANCY MACDONALD