Barbara DiBernard, professor emerita in the Department of English and the Women’s and Gender Studies program, died Sept. 19.
DiBernard was born to Josephine DiBernard and Vincent DiBernard in Dover, New Jersey. She and Judith Gibson became life partners in 1988 and married on June 15, 2015, the day the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage.
DiBernard graduated from Wilson College and SUNY Binghamton and joined the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Department of English in 1978 to teach modern British fiction. She was soon invited by the newly-established Women’s Studies program to teach courses in women’s literature. DiBernard eventually became director of the program and co-established the LGBTQ/sexuality studies minor.
“For decades, Barbara was a tremendous — and tremendously important — colleague in the department and on campus,” Marco Abel, chair of the department, said. “A pillar of the community, beloved by her students, I personally knew her as a very kind, generous and caring colleague, whose commitments to social justice centered everything she did.
“This is a tremendous loss for all of us, but we are so grateful to have been able to enjoy her gifts as a teacher, scholar and engaged colleague-citizen who guided the department with her presence, sharp intellect and warmth.”
DiBernard’s impact has been recognized in multiple ways, including the naming of an award for the Zero Street book series after her, the Doc Elliott Award from the Nebraska Alumni Association, and the Outstanding Teaching and Instructional Activity Award from the College of Arts and Sciences.
DiBernard had an extended circle of friends, including many former students. She is survived by spouse, Judith Gibson; daughter, Sarah Gibson; sister, Joan Stopa; niece, Lauren Stopa Fitzpatrick (Kevin) and great-niece Nora Fitzpatrick; niece, Stefanie Stopa Marchetti (Tony), and great-niece and nephew Sarah and Josh Marchetti; and nephew, Justin Stopa.