Obituary: Rev. Barbara Gifford


Reverend Barbara Jeanne Gifford, of Branchport and more recently Canandaigua, went to be with her Lord Saturday, October 24, 2020.

Barbara was born May 18, 1937 in the Town of Milo to Velda (Daggett) and Karl Mortensen. She graduated from Penn Yan Academy in 1954 and that August married “the perfect man,” the love of her life, Ronald “Ed” Gifford. She and Ed raised five children on their dairy farm in the Town of Pulteney.

nullHer diverse interests and energy led her through a career as a beautician as the owner and operator of Barb’s Beauty Shop; then at the age of 50 to the ministry. She graduated from the Continental School of Beauty in Corning, Wesley Theological Course of Study at American University, Washington DC, and attended Empire State College. She served as a pastor in Friend, Italy Valley, Bluff Point, and Branchport United Methodist Churches.

She was well known for her rendition of God Bless America for which she sang and played the autoharp at Prattsburgh Schools and Section V basketball games. She was a charter member of the Prattsburgh Ambulance Corps and was noted for her community column in The Chronicle-Express. Her music and baking skills (especially her sticky buns) were enjoyed at many church and community events. Her family affectionately referred to her as “the Reverend Mother.”

Barbara was predeceased by her parents, Karl and Velda Mortensen; and infant son, Timothy.

She is survived by her husband of 66 years, Ed; and loving children, Jeffrey (Wendy) Gifford of Penn Yan, Valerie (Kurt) Knoblauch of Canandaigua, Rodney (Pat) Gifford of Newark, Laurie (Jim) Adams of Gorham, and Mark (Alexa) Gifford of Penn Yan. She was blessed with 13 grandchildren, Amanda (Mike) Lockwood, Kyle (Kendal Dudek) Gifford, Ryan (Bethany), Brent (Kelly), and Andrew (Melissa) Knoblauch, Jennifer (David) Lindemann, Melody (Shawn) Spalti, Emily and Jacob Gifford, Carrie Beth (Nate) Wood and Nick (Amy) Adams, Eric and Sydney Gifford; and 16 great-grandchildren, ranging in age from three months to 12 years old.

She is survived by her four siblings, Karl Mortensen of Branchport, Earl Mortensen of Sarasota, Fla., Kay Albert of Penn Yan, and Ruth Robbins of Prattsburgh; and a plethora of dear friends, extended family, nieces, nephews, and cousins.

The family will have a private ceremony, followed by burial at Prattsburgh Rural Cemetery.  In the spirit of gathering which she enjoyed so much, plans for a post Covid celebration of Barb’s life will be announced.

Those who wish to honor her memory and legacy may make donations to the Branchport United Methodist Church, c/o Dave Thorn, 3988 Belknap Hill Road, Branchport, NY 14418;  or Italy Valley United Methodist Church, c/o Janet Perry, 2162 Dunn Road, Branchport, NY 14418; or toward the development of a scholarship in Barbara and Ronald’s name at Prattsburgh Central School, c/o P.O. Box 396, Penn Yan, NY 14527

Arrangements made through Townsend Wood & Zinger Funeral Home, Penn Yan. Memories of Barbara may be shared with her family and friends at

Posted online on November 05, 2020