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Remembering Barbara Piepho

In addition to being a Trustee, her most cherished role – and the one that inspired her to serve the CHS community – was that of mother to three and grandmother to two CHS alumnae.
  • Barbara Piepho and her husband, Neil Wirth, at an event at the CAC in October 2017.
  • Barbara Peipho poses for a portrait as a member of the Board of Trustees in August 2017.

The Carondelet High School community lost a loyal contributor during the past school year after a brief and courageous battle with Leukemia. In recent years, Barbara Piepho played a vital role as a member of Carondelet’s Board of Trustees. But her most cherished role – and the one that inspired her to serve the CHS community – was that of Mother to three and Grandmother to two CHS alumni. And her spirit of giving back to the school provided inspiration for her family to establish a memorial scholarship in her honor. Initial funding is in place thanks to donations from numerous friends, her fellow Board Members, her three daughters, her son Richard, and her partner Neil. Additional Donations to this fund in Barbara’s honor will certainly be welcomed.

Barbara Piepho (1935-2019) initially established a connection with Carondelet High School at the time her oldest daughter enrolled as a freshman. But she had been a staunch supporter of Catholic Education dating back to her own experiences three decades earlier when she attended elementary school at St. Columba School in Oakland. She passed this commitment to Catholic Education along to her children and grandchildren and was extremely proud to be the mother of three alumni - Jeanette (class of 1975), Teresa (class of 1984) and Regina (class of 1986) as well as grandmother of two Carondelet alumni – Danielle Piepho (class of 2002) and Alicia Stone (class of 2014). She was equally proud of her three grandsons that graduated across the street!

Barbara actively supported Carondelet as much as her time and finances allowed during the time her daughters were on campus. She was a single mother during much of this time. And she was also a part-time student - enrolled in college classes in pursuit of her Associates, Bachelor, and eventually Master Degrees. She accomplished all this while working full time and juggling extra “gig work” - before that concept had a title. She made contributions in support of many fundraising events over the years. But the majority of her donations were typically earmarked to scholarship. She truly valued education and worked to make sure it was available for her family and for others in our community.

Ms. Piepho worked in the field of education for much of her career – mostly in roles related to finance and administration. She retired in 2005 as the Vice President of Finance and Administration from Samuel Merritt College (University) in Oakland where she also served as an adjunct professor. She continued to serve as a consultant to the college for a number of years and spent a couple of years serving as an Auditor with the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). In her spare time, she volunteered as a Board Member for the Ladies Home Society/Matilda Brown Home (Oakland), the Contra Costa Child Care Council (Concord), and the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine (San Francisco).

She also taught Religious Education for a number of years at her parish, Christ the King (Pleasant Hill), and served the CTK community in a number of other ministries. Throughout this time, she continued to support Carondelet with annual contributions and with her loyal attendance at numerous fund raising events.

After her youngest granddaughter graduated, Barbara reached out to Carondelet and inquired about opportunities to more actively contribute her skills and extensive experience in support of the business operations of the school. She began serving on the Finance Committee in 2014 where she rolled up her sleeves and got busy helping to create policies and implementing changes that have continued to help CHS in many areas of accounting and financial reporting.

A year later, in 2015, she accepted an invitation to join the Board of Trustees. Over the next four years, Ms. Piepho served as Chairman of the Finance Committee, and also participated in the Investment Committee, the Executive Committee, and – at the time of her passing – in the role of Chairman of the Governance Committee. She continued to step up and serve whenever an opportunity came up. During her time on the Board of Trustees, she played a vital and active role in the acquisition/financing of the Carondelet Athletic Complex as well as the Jean Hofmann Center for Innovation. She was able to participate in the formal opening of the Hofmann Center last Fall and our family was honored to host a Memorial Lunch in that spectacular facility after Barbara’s Funeral Mass in January 2020.

Barbara brought a wealth of experience from her 15 years at Samuel Merritt to every aspect of her contributions to the CHS Board. However, she brought an even stronger commitment to support the Sisters of St. Joseph (CSJ) in maintaining the faith-based education that she experienced for herself and her other family members. Her loyalty to the CSJ was never more evident that the 3-hour drive she endured to be able to visit Le Puy during a trip to France in 2016 – followed by a 5-hour drive in the opposite direction to get to that night’s stopping place! She hated to ride in the car. But she counted that day among her very favorites!

Barbara’s family pledged to create an endowment that will honor her legacy of giving to Carondelet. The Barbara Piepho Memorial Scholarship will be awarded each year to a deserving Carondelet Student. Recipients of this scholarship will be selected based on need - with a special preference given to those students that come from a single-parent household. We want to continue Barbara’s dedication to making a difference for the students of Carondelet. Ms. Piepho was absolutely committed to seeing that Carondelet will continue to thrive and serve the young women of faith in Contra Costa County in the same manner it served her three daughters and two granddaughters. Barbara’s commitment to giving of her time, her talent, and her treasure continues to inspire her family members to serve Carondelet High School and other worthy causes within our community.

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