Barbara grew up on the family farm, which had been purchased by her great-grandparents Hugh and Elizabeth Robinson shortly after the Civil War. Hugh bred award winning Percheron draft horses and grew crops as well. The farm was handed down to their daughter (Jessie Robinson Love), who in turn handed it down to her family to care for.
Young Barbara loved farm life. She rode the family’s horse, cared for the farm animals, and doted on the many cats and kittens living in the hay mow of the barn. She and her siblings enjoyed the regular tractor rides and picnics with their father when he tilled and planted. In the summer, she and her siblings would wander to the eastern edge of the farm to fish in the south fork of the Vermilion River.
During the school year, she walked every day with her siblings to the nearby one-room country schoolhouse, the Fugate School, which taught the local farm children from first through eighth grades.
Her mother skillfully played piano and organ for family, church, and community events. Many nights, Barbara was soothed to sleep by the sound of her mother’s piano music rising through the heating grate. Her beloved maternal grandmother, Jessie Love, spent many days and nights with young Barbara and instilled a love of books and reading in her. Barbara attended Fairbury Township High School and graduated in 1948, and later attended Millikin College. She then worked in Bloomington, Illinois and in 1951, she married Harvey. Together, they had four children.
She was a great support to Harvey as he pursued his career in law and politics, and she served as hostess at many, many social gatherings.
In the 1980’s and 1990’s, she pursued her love of cooking, beyond her home. She attended cooking schools in California and elsewhere and worked at the Garlic Press in Normal. There, she became a sought-after cookware consultant. Staff and customers alike were drawn to her as she shared her knowledge of cooking, cookware, and food.
She and Harvey enjoyed travelling. They visited numerous places within the United States as well as in England, Germany, France, Spain, Ireland, South Africa, Canada, Mexico and Belize. In one very remarkable trip in 1990, they travelled for six months by van throughout Mexico and Belize and collected local specialty foods.
She lived in Tucson for twenty years with Harvey where they enjoyed a wide circle of friends from their church, as well as relatives and others from “back home” in Illinois who came to visit them.
Barbara was a lifelong member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. She was very interested in genealogy. She was also a member of the Fairbury Browning Club.
She is survived by the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren whom she dearly loved: her sons Eric, Chama NM, and John (Mary Jane) Mandeville LA; her daughters Mary (Correze “Buck”) Cunningham, Borden IN, and Barbara (Mark) Ulbrich, Towanda, IL She is also survived by her grandchildren, who affectionately called her “Oma”: Christopher (Bibiana) Traub, Randall (Deseree) Haurez, Tina (Larry) Beachler; Amanda Traub, Anna (Jimmy) Sines, Brad (Michelle) Cunningham; Joe (Thatsanee) Wiser, and Jessica (Pierce) Groover; and great-grandchildren: Taylor and Erica Traub; Coleman Haurez; Lee and Andrew Beachler; Owen, Jacob, and Luke Sines; Hayden and Dylan Cunningham; Evelyn, Sophie, Magdalena, and Josephine Wiser; and William and Alexandra Groover. She is also survived by a beloved brother, Stanley Weeks, and a beloved sister, Elizabeth Wharton, along with many nieces and nephews. In addition, she is survived by her very special godchildren, Ross, Scott (Vivian), Janice (Walter Lopez) and Barbara Vail.
She was preceded in death by her parents, and her husband.
In this time of COVID, in lieu of a traditional visitation and funeral, there will be a graveside service at Avoca Township Cemetery north of Fairbury, on Monday, December 7, at 1 p.m. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to: Gov. Thos. Ford Chap. of the Daughters of the American Revolution - Veterans Projects, c/o Sherri Kenner, Treasurer, 1609 W. Point Drive, Mahomet, IL 61853-8928 ; Disabled American Veterans, P.O. Box 145447, Cincinnati, OH 45250-5447; Fairview Haven, or Livingston County Humane Society.
The family wishes to thank the staff of Fairview Haven/Serenity Villa for their dedication and loving kindness to our dear mother.