BEVERLY — Barbara Papish made a name for herself in the late 1960s when she was expelled from the University of Missouri for selling an “underground” newspaper on campus containing what the school’s Board of Curators labeled “indecent speech.” Barbara, at that time a graduate student at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, was the editor of the Free Press Underground, which had reprinted another paper’s graphic depiction of police brutality. She took her case to the Supreme Court, which reversed the Curators’ decision in 1973, finding that “the mere dissemination of ideas” on a university campus “may not be shut off in the name alone of ‘conventions of decency.’ ”
Barbara Papish died on Thursday, June 27, 2013, in the Essex Park Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Beverly after a long illness. She had lived with her husband, Michael Evers, in Beverly since 1985. She was 76. Despite the dramatic conclusion to the case, she never returned to the University of Missouri, but instead obtained a BA in Art from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio, and then an MA in Technical Writing from the same school. She found work at Wang Corporation in Lowell as a technical writer and moved to Massachusetts in 1984. Later on she worked on other publications in the north of Boston area.
At the same time, Barbara retained her strong interest in environmental, women’s and social justice issues and expressed her values by participating in the Beverly League of Women Voters, the Beverly Solid Waste Committee, and the Beverly Democratic City Committee, where she was a treasurer in the early 2000s. She had strong opinions and was not shy about expressing them. Wes Slate, who succeeded her as BDCC treasurer, commented that Barbara insisted “we should stand up for our core beliefs and be ready to defend them as aggressively as she was.”