Barbara Torode, 80, of West Mount Airy, an artist and graphic designer, died Thursday, Jan. 3, of liver cancer at her home.
Ms. Torode’s career in the fine arts spanned 55 years. She came to Philadelphia in 1959 to attend what is now the University of the Arts. After graduating in 1963 with a fine arts degree, she held a series of jobs as art director for advertising agencies including N.W. Ayer & Sons in Philadelphia and Benton & Bowles in London.
Her projects ranged from creating a logo for the World Bank to designing menus for the former Yantze Chinese Gourmet restaurant in Lansdale, said her husband, James N. Smart, a former columnist for the Evening Bulletin.
Born in Queens and raised in the Astoria neighborhood of New York, she was the daughter of William Torode, a merchant seaman who came from the island of Guernsey in the English Channel off the coast of Normandy. He jumped ship when his vessel was docked in New York and then met her mother, Leona Mullen, who had grown up on the North Dakota plains.
Ms. Torode attended the High School of Music and Art in New York, but graduated from Towson High School after her family moved to Baltimore.
She liked to tell about her professional adventures, such as the time she was asked to make X-rays of a live elephant for a DuPont Co. advertisement. The giant beast was less than cooperative in the small work space that was available.
“They had a lot of trouble, and people laughed about it [later],” her husband said.
She described another adventure in which she and a crew roamed the Irish countryside, filming herds of cows for Irish Dairy Board television commercials. The country folk “didn’t have television and didn’t know what [the strangers] were up to,” her husband said.
In the mid-1970s, she opened her own agency on Lombard Street in Philadelphia. Torode Design Associates created advertisements, audio-visuals, and printed material. Her clients included Merck & Co., Mellon Bank, Christ Church in Philadelphia, Harper & Row, the Public Broadcasting Service, and CBS television.
Ms. Torode also did design work on medical texts and elementary school workbooks.
Throughout her career, she taught classes in design and typography at the University of the Arts, Moore College of Art and Design, Temple University, and Princeton University.
In 1976, she designed a Bicentennial Year birth certificate for all babies born in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that year. Although she had slowed down in the past few years, she never retired.
Starting in 2003, she wrote poetry from a small bedroom in her home that she converted into a writing den. The den had shelves crammed with books, and notes with catchy phrases tacked to the walls.
"I’m in easy commuting distance to my kitchen — no wasted time going and coming for meals,” Ms. Torode wrote online. She often escaped to her garden “for necessary eye-resting breaks, exercise, and meditation.”
She described her poetry, which she often read aloud at poets’ gatherings, as “nutrition for the brain and surprises for the spirit.”
In addition to her husband, she is survived by stepchildren Stephen Smart and Leslie Zavodnick; three step-grandchildren; two step-great-grandsons; and two brothers. Her former husband, Peter Paone, also survives.