Barbara Hicks Geslock was a civic-minded, family-oriented, caring woman whose willingness to help others of all ages was a lifelong mission. She was born and raised in Fredericksburg and at the age of seventeen began a career with the federal government. Barbara’s career in federal service began as a clerk-typist, but, after many promotions from Upper Mobility Program Manager, Employee Assistance Coordinator and Sexual Harassment instructor, she retired as the Equal Employment Counselor. She was proud of her involvement with women’s issues in the mid seventies and helping women obtain positions in traditionally male jobs such as painters, carpenters, firefighters, and heavy equipment operators.
Barbara’s contributions to her community continued throughout her life. In 1988, for example, she co-founded the Women’s Resource Center, serving as its executive director for many years, co-founded the Shelter for Abused Women, and was director and pianist for the senior singers of the Fredericksburg Senior Citizens Center. She was also a big sister to two young girls, a Brownie leader, Cub Scout leader, Sunday school teacher, and organist and pianist for several churches and nursing homes in the area. Wherever Barbara saw a need she was certain to find a solution.
While serving as President of Soroptimist International of Fredericksburg, Inc., in 1982 she started the Women’s Forum. Supported by women from several organizations, the Forum offered a day of workshops, lunch and networking. Today the Women’s Forum, in its twenty-fourth year, has grown in size, and has become an annual event attended by over three hundred women. During the Forum day, exhibitors display their products or services, Germanna nurses take blood pressure, and the Mammogram and Health Vans from Mary Washington Hospital provide health reports. A keynote speaker kicks off the day during which more than 60 workshops and entertainment at lunchtime are offered. Entertainment ranges from discussion groups to music and dance groups to fashion shows. From the ten dollar registration fee paid by each registrant lunch is provided, bills for printing the brochures and programs are paid as well as any other expenses. Should funds remain after the Forum the board makes donations to needs of women and children in the community. The Forum, a widely anticipated event in Fredericksburg, is always held during March, Women’s History Month.
The Women’s Forum is supported by several women’s organizations in the Fredericksburg area whose representatives are from Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Alpha Tau Society, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Fredericksburg Host Lioness Club, National Organization for Women, Soroptimist International of Fredericksburg, Inc. and Twelve and One Club. Members of the Forum board and their organizations support the Forum, a non-profit event, through volunteering time and assistance.
Barbara Hicks Geslock was a strong, kind, role model for women and children whose determination and vision have brought about many fine things in Fredericksburg. One of the most memorable is this outstanding annual event, the Women’s Forum. Today the Women’s Forum remains a vibrant symbol of the strength of a single woman who cared deeply for her community and provided a living legacy in Fredericksburg.