We are heartbroken to announce that longtime member Barbara Adams has passed away in Nepal at age 84.
A memorial service will be held in the next few weeks – this post will be updated as we get more information. Meanwhile, it is an honor to share this excerpt from the obituary by Matt Schudel that ran in Saturday’s Washington Post.
“I was sitting at the Yak and Yeti bar of the Royal Hotel, and the prince mistook me for someone else.”
And so began the remarkable Himalayan journey of Barbara Adams.
The year was 1961. The onetime Washington schoolgirl was, at 29, a free spirit and an expatriate, having spent most of the previous decade in Rome.
When she caught the prince’s eye, she was in Kathmandu, on assignment for an Italian magazine to cover the state visit of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II to Nepal. Ms. Adams stayed as the “royal consort” — or openly acknowledged mistress — of Prince Basundhara, the brother of the king.
She was a striking figure, then and always, with her blond hair, piercing blue eyes and charismatic nature. In Kathmandu, where bicycles and horses were the typical means of transport, Ms. Adams drove a white Sunbeam convertible.Over the next five decades, she would become the best-known American in Nepal. She was sought out by diplomats, and for years, she held court at the boozy expatriate gatherings at her expansive house, which held two grand pianos, in downtown Kathmandu.
Ms. Adams founded Nepal’s first travel agency, wrote newspaper columns and established a foundation that built homes for impoverished, lower-caste citizens. She called for political change and, during one period of turmoil, was expelled from the country.
But she always found her way back, and she was in a Kathmandu hospital when she died on April 22, two days before her 85th birthday. She had a heart attack last year and died of complications from abdominal surgery, said her executor, Mike Gill.
Read the rest of the obituary here.
May she rest in peace, and may her family and friends find comfort in each other and their loving memories of Barbara.