Barbara E. Kates, 78, of Bala Cynwyd, a designer of upscale women's clothing who was also later a volunteer, died Friday, Dec. 5, of glioblastoma at Penn Hospice at Rittenhouse.

Mrs. Kates, a graduate of Cheltenham High School and Pennsylvania State University, was a designer and manufacturer of women's clothing made in the United States and sold here, in Canada, and Europe.

During its heyday in the 1980s, Barbara Kates Designs created exclusive women's apparel, accessories, and wedding gowns for Joan Shepp, Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Nan Duskin.

In 1985, Revlon Cosmetics chose Barbara Kates Designs to clothe the models in its Seville cosmetics advertising campaign. The ads appeared in Vogue Magazine and Women's Wear Daily, and at cosmetic counters in retail stores.

In 1986, Philadelphia Magazine featured Turquoise Erving, then the wife of NBA star Julius Erving, on its cover, modeling a pearl-and-crystal-encrusted dress designed by Mrs. Kates's company. The firm is no longer operating.

Mrs. Kates' second career - volunteer tour guide - started in 1993 when she became an associate assistant for the World Affairs Council. In that role, she was hostess to then-Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin.

One of her passions was giving Foundation for Architecture City Hall tours from 1996 to 2003. She told visitors about the building's architecture and history as well as the local politics of the day.

She worked for the Landmarks Society from 1998 to 2005, giving tours of the homes of Dr. Philip Syng Physick - the father of American surgery - and Samuel Powell - a colonial-era Philadelphia mayor.

From 2003 to 2005, Mrs. Kates worked for the National Constitution Center in its interpreter program.

She was a member of the Foreign Policy Research Institute, World Affairs Council, American Institute of Architecture, Preservation for Landmarks, Barnes Museum Alumni Chapter, and Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Surviving are her husband, Gerald; daughters Lauren and Susan; four grandchildren; a sister; and a niece.

The funeral will be at 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 7, at Goldsteins' Rosenberg's Raphael-Sacks, 6410 N. Broad St., Philadelphia. Burial will be in Roosevelt Memorial Park.

Contributions may be made to the National Brain Tumor Society, 55 Chapel St. Suite 200, Newton, Mass. 02458.

bcook@phillynews.com 610-313-8102