COLUMBIA - Barbara Fowler Lemmon, widow of Charles J. Lemmon, M.D., died in her sleep on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018 at Covenant Place in Sumter after several years of declining health. She was 86.

Born in Columbia on Aug. 1, 1931, Barbara Mary Fowler was the daughter of Helen Jennings Grassfield Fowler and Victor George Fowler. Growing up on Wheat Street, she was schooled at Hand Junior High and Dreher High School. She attended Columbia College and received a B.A. (English) from the University of South Carolina in 1952.

As the reigning Azalea Queen, she represented South Carolina on the state's float in the Eisenhower inaugural parade in 1953. A striking beauty, she was described in the press at that time as "blonde, willowy blue-eyed Barbara Fowler." After college, she lived for several years in New York City where she was a model at the renowned fashion house of Hattie Carnegie.

Returning to Columbia, she married Dr. Lemmon, a surgeon, in 1955 at her childhood church on Wheat Street, St. John's Episcopal Church. Career girl quickly adapted to being homemaker and mother to four children. With boundless energy, her circle was not limited to her family. Barbara had a host of friends spanning generations and shared in their joys and sorrows, always bringing delicious dishes from her kitchen and roses from her garden.

As her children grew up, Barbara's lifelong love of books drew her back to the university, where she earned a Masters in Library Science in 1977. This opened a whole new world. She was librarian at Crayton School and at the Cooper Branch Library on Trenholm Road. She fielded queries as reference librarian at the main branch of the Richland County Library. She was the librarian for the journalism school at USC, where she also worked for several years archiving the Fox MovieTone news collection.

She served on the Altar Guild at St. John's and later at St. Martins-in-the-Fields near her home on Greenhill Road, where the Lemmon family lived for more than four decades. She was a member of the Columbia Medical Society Auxiliary, Columbia Garden Club and Forest Lake Club.

Survivors include her daughter, Helen Jennings Lemmon Couch, and son-in-law, William Stuart Couch; her two sons, Charles James Lemmon III and Robert Allen Lemmon and his fianc e, Sandy Baxter, all of Columbia; and two grandsons, William Gordon Couch II, serving in the U.S. Navy, and Chandler Lemmon Couch, serving in the U.S. Marine Corps.

She was predeceased by her husband, Dr. Lemmon; her daughter, Grace Brogdon Lemmon; her sister, Eleanor Forrest Fowler Caughman (Mrs. G.P. Jr.), and her brother, Robert Victor Fowler.

The family will receive friends on Tuesday from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at the home of Helen and Bill Couch, 200 Alexander Circle, Gregg Park, in Columbia. Interment in the Lemmon plot in the Sumter Cemetery will be private.

The family wishes to thank Covenant Place in Sumter for their care and kindness. Memorials may be made to a charity of one's choice.

You may go to and sign the family's guest book.

The family has chosen Bullock Funeral Home for the arrangements.