Martin County Philanthropist Bobbie Trimble Leaves Behind Long Legacy Of Giving

The late Barbara Briggs Trimble dedicated her life to philanthropy and helping those in need.
The late Barbara Briggs Trimble dedicated her life to philanthropy and helping those in need.

Barbara Briggs Trimble wasn’t one to sit idly.

She and her husband Edward C. Trimble traded Rochester, New York for sunny Stuart later in life, but they didn’t venture to Florida to retire quietly. That was never their style.

Barbara Trimble, who died earlier this year on May 5 at age 94, was always on the move. Her friends, who affectionately called her “Bobbie,” say that her boundless energy was often directed toward helping others.

“She had such a passion for giving, that came from an early age,” says Nancy Perry, major gifts and legacy giving director of the United Way of Martin County. “Her mother taught her that she had to give back.”

Barbara Trimble took her mother’s lesson to heart. Throughout her life, community involvement and philanthropy played a prominent role. During World War II, while her husband served in the European Theater, Barbara Trimble volunteered for the Red Cross Motor Corps. Upon his return the couple grew their family, while she remained active within their New York community. That family tradition continued after their move to Florida.

The Florida Oceanographic Society was one of the first organizations to benefit from the couple’s generosity. Perry, whose husband serves as executive director of the organization, remembers the Society’s early years of hardship. “If it hadn’t been for Ted and Bobbie, [Florida Oceanographic Society] may not have survived,” Perry recalls.

Many other local organizations prospered from the dedication of the Trimbles. The Arts Council of Martin County, Molly’s House, the Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties all received much-needed support.

There was one sector that particularly touched Barbara Trimble’s heart. “She was always greatly moved by the needs of kids,” says John Lass, president of the YMCA of the Treasure Coast. In fact, the YMCA’s Teddy Bear Academy preschool program is part of the couple’s legacy. The Gertrude Walden Child Care Center was also one of Barbara Trimble’s favorites.

Though the couple resided mainly in Stuart, they did return to New York during the summer months. From their home in Clayton, Trimble once again became a vital player within the community. “She used to pour the iced tea,” neighbor Sarah Pietrafefa says, remembering how Trimble used to help during special events at the Antique Boat Museum.

After her husband’s passing, Trimble continued giving. More than monetary donations, Trimble gifted her time. So exemplary was her service to her community that the United Way honored her with the Frances Langford Humanitarian Award in 2013, which recognizes individuals for their “commitment and compassion for humanity in their lives and deeds.” She was one of the United Way’s top 10 donors for 25 years.

Trimble and her husband moved to Stuart in 1979, where she lived for 36 years. She is survived by four children, five grandchildren, four great grandchildren as well as many nieces and nephews.

And, of course, she leaves behind her legacy of giving, for which so many are eternally grateful.

In the photos below, the United Way of Martin County honors Trimble with the Frances Langford Humanitarian Award in 2013. 

Barbara Briggs Trimble

Barbara Briggs Trimble

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