Barbara (Stien) Bickford Harding, 91

March 4, 2024

Barbara (Stien) Bickford Harding, of Concord, MA lived a long, rich, and impactful life, deeply touching those around her. She brought joy to all she encountered, inspiring others through her love and kindness. She died peacefully in her sleep on February 26, 2024, at the age of 91.

Barbara was born to John “Jack” and Lillian Stien of Naugatuck, Connecticut, on January 14, 1933. At an early age, she took up drawing, a passion that later evolved to painting. Throughout her life, she created a diverse array of artworks, including sculpture and glass pieces, and taught numerous students to paint. Many of her works adorn the homes of her friends. In addition to drawing in high school, she was named “best bowler” and, true to form, she was voted “best figure.”  Following high school, she moved to Boston where she attended Katharine Gibbs College while living in an apartment on Commonwealth Avenue.  After returning home, she moved to Branford, CT where she lived on the water, sailed, and worked at Yale University. In 1965, the family moved to Concord. She fell in love with the town, and never left.

As a single mother in the late seventies, she struggled to support herself and her children, working various odd jobs until holding administrative roles at The Fenn School and later at the North Bridge. While making ends meet, she studied graphology, which became another of her life’s passions. She embraced the study of handwriting, becoming a Certified Graphologist. She started a fledgling company called Barbara Harding Associates and offered analysis to individuals and organizations. What began with a few clients blossomed to over fifty corporate clients including several Wall Street firms and the international French Bank Credit Lyonnais. She gave advice on hiring anyone from managers to international money traders. Prominent businesswoman Helen Brown of Houston, owner of the advertising journal Greensheet, John Keith of the Keith Companies of Canton, Mass, Arthur Winn of the WinnCompanies of Boston were early clients, supporters, and then lifelong friends of Barbara.  She loved them dearly.   Not long after, the Wall Street Journal took note of Barbara’s growing business success and featured her in a front-page article entitled The Write Stuff on October 26, 1982. She opened an office in Concord and never looked back. She also began teaching a course entitled Your Script is Showing at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education where many of her students, including photographer Stuart Cohen and Jim Buttrick, became long term friends. She continued teaching there for over 40 years, meeting countless new acquaintances and friends.

Barbara didn’t stop at being a Certified Graphologist; she went on to become a Certified Document Examiner. She was called on by the Massachusetts and Rhode Island Attorneys General to provide expert analysis and testimony. Many lawyers retained her in disputes over signatures and legal writings. She was as comfortable on the stand in court as she was giving advice to business owners on hiring. Barbara never stopped.

Barbara’s other passion was horses. She was an accomplished equestrian, a skilled jumper, and a practiced dressage rider. She spent many years riding from her barn on Monument Street along the Concord River trails on her beloved thoroughbred, Daiquiri, always followed by her beloved dog, Jack.

As she grew older, she loved long walks through Punkatasset and Estabrook Woods with her other best dogs, Maggie and then Roxy. She treasured her many lifelong relationships and spent many months with friends on Old Orchard Beach or wintering on Folly Beach outside Charleston and Pensacola Beach in Florida. She never stopped painting, creating, learning, or entertaining. She looked at everyone’s handwriting to the end, always astounding people as to the accuracy of her analysis.

She is predeceased by her parents, Jack and Lillian Stien, her brother, John Stien, and her nephew, Jeffrey Stien. She is survived by her son, Scott Bickford (Ninh Tran) of New Orleans, daughter, Tammy Nuenighoff (Steven) of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, her grandchildren Dana Nuenighoff (Nicholas Ferry) and Rhett Nuenighoff, and her nephew, Jason Stien.

Barbara was a magnet for people into her 90’s.  She lived at home until she passed and was always surrounded by many friends. Her 90th birthday was celebrated by so many of those she loved. The family would like to thank her close friends including Lai Hing Chan and Warren Moberly, Kathy and Jeff Fast, Bonnie Kennedy and Russ and Lee Robb, who were there for her in her final years. We also thank Joanne Fontaine who so competently managed Barbara’s medical needs and Charlie Bates who always made her smile. Finally, we are so incredibly grateful to her live-in caregiver, Mary Gichiengo.

As Mom would say, remember her but live on your lives — it’s all practically perfect.

There will be a Celebration of Life on April 20th for friends and family from 11:00 to 1:30 pm in Concord, Mass. Please email for further information.

Barbara always had a passion for saving animals and supporting the arts.  If you would like to make a donation to a charity in Barbara’s memory please consider Buddy Dog of Sudbury, Mass, or The Umbrella Art Center in Concord, Mass,

Arrangements are entrusted to Dee Funeral Home & Cremation Service of Concord.  To share a remembrance or to offer a condolence in her online guestbook, please visit