Dorothy Barrett, “Dottie”, 84, former principal cellist of the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra, died Wednesday after a short illness. She is survived by her husband, Dick Barrett, her three sons, Chris, Kirt, and Peter Kempter, granddaughters, Katie and Victoria Kempter, and older brother Roger Woodle.
Dottie was born August 29, 1933, in Springfield, Missouri. She began playing the cello at an early age, demonstrating considerable talent, and eventually was awarded musical scholarships to the University of Kansas where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, and then the University of Illinois for a Masters degree in music.
She moved to Albuquerque in 1956 with her first husband, Dale Kempter, played in the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra and taught cello privately. Due to Dottie’s remarkable skills as a hostess, and her open, exuberant, and inquisitive nature, the Kempter home became an unofficial social center for the Albuquerque musical community. As one her good friends said: “Dottie is the only person I know who can thoroughly charm people without apparently trying.”
After moving to Santa Fe in 1989 with her second husband, Dick Barrett, she continued to teach cello privately, played in the Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra, and also took up weaving. She became an accomplished weaver, producing tapestries and rugs that still adorn many homes in New Mexico, California, and elsewhere.
In 1992 she and her husband became co-chairs of Friends of Contemporary Art (FOCA), a support group for the Santa Fe Fine Arts Museum. Again, Dottie’s magnetic personality and social skills worked their magic. She chaired the membership committee that built FOCA from a small group of 60 members to nearly 500. Under her direction FOCA became the largest and most successful friends group of all five state museums. In 1997 she was recognized by the Santa Fe Reporter as one of “Santa Fe’s Top 10 Who Matter Most in the Visual Arts.”
Dottie’s acquaintances will likely agree with the sentiment expressed by one of her close friends who, upon hearing of her passing, remarked: “She was such a dear, funny, quirky, wonderful woman. I discovered that at our first encounter and she never failed to be a great companion. Darling, sweet, funny, kind Dottie.”
A private memorial service for family members is being planned.