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Barbara (Scotti) Riehle

January 12, 1956 April 18, 2021
Barbara (Scotti) Riehle
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Obituary for Barbara (Scotti) Riehle

Barbara (Scotti) Riehle, beloved mother of Anna and Peter, wife of Thom, and daughter of the late Rita W. (Dwyer) Scotti and the late Dr. Ciro O. Scotti, died on April 18 at George Washington University Hospital in Washington. She was 65.
Barbara was born in Providence and educated at Elmhurst Academy and Lincoln School. She moved to Washington in 1974 to attend American University, where she earned a degree in international relations and Soviet studies.
In her teens, Barbara began working for U.S. Senator John Chafee as a campaign volunteer and after college joined his Senate staff and became a longtime aide. She later worked for Senator Lincoln Chafee.
A lifelong Republican, BSR – as she was known to many – relished the rough-and-tumble of politics and was steeped in the decorum of the Senate. That is not to suggest she was shy about trading political punches, especially if her sparring partner was Thomas Riehle, a staunch Democrat but highly regarded nonpartisan pollster. Barbara met Thom at a party in 1985 and as one of her closest friends recalls, the sparks lit up that Halloween night. They immediately became inseparable, were married in 1986, and raised two children in Washington, Anna, and Peter. Both Thom and Peter predeceased Barbara.
Barbara was a passionate participant in the life of her Capitol Hill neighborhood. She was one of the founders of the Eastern Market Metro Community Association and for a number of years served as its president.

Barbara’s tenacity as a community activist and public servant was matched only by her physical courage. Throughout her life, she had to battle serious illnesses repeatedly and despite all odds, she prevailed. And she did so without a whimper.
Barbara loved the beach, and she and her family spent summers in Narragansett, RI, where her idea of bliss was a humor-filled cocktail hour (perhaps spiced with a bit of gossip) and a steamed lobster. Like her mother and Aunt Alice B. Dwyer, Barbara had an innate elegance, a hearty laugh, and an unmatched sense of fun.
For her friends, Barbara was a wonder of liveliness and kindness. For her brothers and sisters, she could be funny, combative, self-effacing, and loving all in the space of five minutes, but never dull. For her nieces and nephews, she was a sympathetic and endlessly caring aunt who could always be relied upon. For Thom, Anna, and Peter, she was a font of loyalty and boundless, selfless love. For those lucky enough to have these close relationships, Barbara’s deep lovingness changed their lives for the better.
For all she touched, though, Barbara was one thing: extraordinary.
Barbara is survived by her loving daughter, Anna, whose graduation from Georgia Tech with an MS and MBA she was able to witness in her last hours; three sisters, Paula Shevlin of Jamestown, RI; Elena Scotti of Southwest Harbor, Maine; Alicia Scotti Mandel of New York City: four brothers, Ciro, Frank, Peter, and Joseph Scotti, all of RI; 23 nieces and nephews. Barbara was predeceased by her brother N. David Scotti and her sisters Maria Scotti Chapin and Rita Scotti.
A funeral will be held in Rhode Island in May; a memorial service in Washington will be announced at a later date. Donations in Barbara’s memory may be made to the Holy Comforter/St. Cyprian’s Community Action Group, Capitol Hill Village, Guiding Eyes for the Blind, Capitol Hill Montessori or an organization of your choice

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