Obituary of Barbara S. Drenning
Barbara Shields Drenning died at the age of 80 in hospice care at her home in Buffalo on October 9,
2021, with her children at her side. The daughter of Peter Joseph and Dorothy Shields, and the wife of
the late John B. Drenning, she is survived by her brothers Peter Shields (Grace) and Hugh Shields
(Christine); daughter Elizabeth (Neil Levi); son John (Lucie Bernheim); grandson John Chalfant Drenning;
cousin Elizabeth Whiteley (Robert Spann); and many nieces, nephews, great-nieces, and great-nephews.
Born in Erie, PA, Ms. Drenning graduated from St. Anne’s School in Charlottesville, VA, and received her
bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Wells College in Aurora, NY.
Ms. Drenning began work in market research at McGraw-Hill publishing house in New York City. She
married John Drenning in 1965, and in 1967 they moved to Buffalo, where they raised their two children.
Ms. Drenning returned to work in human resources, specializing in benefits management. She was a vice
president at Smith Metal Arts, a manufacturer of high-end office accessories, and was later Employee
Benefits Manager for the Buffalo Board of Education. She began her post-graduate education while
working, taking MBA courses and specialty certification courses in employee benefits.
Ms. Drenning will be remembered for her tireless volunteer work on behalf of Buffalo, her adopted home.
She was a co-founder of Buffalo’s Green Fund, which at the time of her retirement from its board had
planted over 20,000 trees in the city. Her passion for her community was also expressed in her work on
the board of Hospice Buffalo; as chair of the K.I.D.S. Project for the Community Foundation for Greater
Buffalo, which distributed children’s toys, clothing, and baby equipment to area non-profits; and as a
founding board member of the former Gilda’s Club of Western New York, a support center for cancer
patients and their families. In her volunteer work she often drew on her knowledge and experience in
personnel matters to advise non-profit boards, and she won numerous awards for her community service.
She was a member for more than 50 years of the Junior League of Buffalo, advancing civic and women’s
causes, and also volunteered at the Albright-Knox; Westminster Presbyterian Church; and Nichols
A gracious and generous woman, Ms. Drenning was a beloved daughter, sister, wife, mother, and
grandmother, and a dedicated friend. She loved reading; playing a friendly game of golf, bridge, tennis, or
Scrabble; learning about investing; and completing a crossword or Sodoku puzzle. Until her recent
illnesses, she enjoyed many happy times as a member of the Garret Club and the Country Club of
Buffalo. She was almost unfailingly cheerful and full of goodwill, never speaking unkindly of others, and
her sly sense of humor was with her until her final days. She set a loving example that her children will
strive to emulate. The family would like to thank so many for the concern they showed Ms. Drenning in
her final years, with special mention to Fox Run for the excellent care they provided, Hospice Buffalo, and
her devoted caregivers Sharmel Slocum, Elayne Claus, and in her last days, Michelle Plewinski.
A private burial with family will take place in Erie, PA with a memorial service planned for early summer.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the following charities: Hospice & Palliative Care Buffalo,
and the Alzheimer’s Association, WNY Chapter.