Barbara Pillsbury

Barbara Linné Kroll Pillsbury Milne, Ph.D. age 69 of Malibu, CA, Washington, DC, and a citizen of the world, passed away on September 27, 2012, surrounded by her family. Born and raised in Bemidji, MN, Barbara graduated from Bemidji High School, attended the University of Minnesota receiving a B.S. in home economics with journalism minor, earned a M.A. in applied linguistics from Columbia University Teachers College and a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from Columbia University where she studied with renowned anthropologist Margaret Mead. Her doctoral dissertation on Muslim Chinese was a pioneering study that remains the basis for the work of later scholars in the field. Barbara learned to speak fluent Chinese and combined that skill with her knowledge of Muslim societies and cultures, gleaned from her days at the American University in Cairo. She continued to contribute to the world of scholarship through numerous research papers and conference presentations as well as mentoring students seeking to follow her in the complex issues she so deftly maneuvered. Her career in cultural and medical anthropology spanned the globe, taking her to 100 countries, where she worked tirelessly to make the world a better place, through groundbreaking research and policy recommendations on women’s health and family planning issues in developing countries. Barbara left a profound contribution as a visionary leader in the areas of international development, reproductive and sexual health, HIV/AIDS education, child survival, and global gender issues. Never one to be left out of a conversation, she learned thirteen languages, with a particular love for Chinese and Swedish. Barbara has been an inspiration to young scholars by showing them an alternative career path in anthropology, aside from traditional academia. She was a pioneer in taking the theoretical and practical knowledge and skills out of the university setting and applying them to efforts to improve the welfare of people around the globe. Barbara helped found six organizations (most notably the Pacific Institute for Women’s Health) and has served on numerous boards of directors, including the American Anthropological Association, the Global Health Council, and the International Women’s Health Coalition. She held positions with many governmental and non-governmental organizations, including WHO, UNFPA, UNICEF, USAID, the World Bank, International Planned Parenthood Federation, and the Rockefeller, Hewlett, Ford, Gates and Compton foundations. Preceded in death by her father Richard Kroll, Barbara was the daughter of her beloved mother Edna (Engvall) Kroll of St. Louis Park, MN; loving mother of Heather Milne (David) Cristman of Cincinnati, OH, and Kristina Milne of New York City, NY; dear sisters Connie Kroll Skildum of Eagan, MN and Anne Kroll (Doug) Dahlen of Burnsville, MN; plus many nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews, and countless friends and colleagues. A Celebration of Life service for family and close friends will be held at the Minnesota Humanities Center in Saint Paul, MN on Sunday, 1:00 p.m., October 7, followed by a California service for family & friends on October 13 at 10:30 am (8600 Westward Beach Road, Malibu CA). Memorials are preferred to The Molly Gingerich Fund (301-670-0994) or the SHARE Institute (, two organizations that help young women around the globe.
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