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HURON – Barbara Vance, 72, of Huron, passed away Saturday, May 18, 2019.
Caring, creative and organized, Barbara Vance touched many lives.
“I knew I was going to marry her three weeks after we started dating,” her husband Ray said. “When I told her so, she said ‘No way! I’m not going to be a pastor’s wife!’ Hundreds of people came to know her as just that and also as a dear friend.”
Barbara, 72, died at her Huron home on May 18.
Barbara loved doing spreadsheets and if she were to make one that illustrated her life it would contain color-coded boxes of her blessings: family, friends, faith and fun. It would also include boxes about life’s challenges, including the chemo treatments that dominated her life the past five months.
“Cancer has not changed my quality of life,” she wrote for a Lenten devotional this year. “We don’t have to worry about children or a job. I’m in no pain. Ray is with me every step of the way. Our children, siblings and friends have helped in so many ways and made our days brighter. I just feel a sense of calm. I cannot look into the future and see that my time is short. Yes, God’s presence for sure.”
Born in Fremont on Aug. 7, 1946, Barbara at a young age moved to Catawba, then Port Clinton, where she was the eldest of three sisters and two brothers.
Midway through Port Clinton High School she met her future husband. After graduation in 1964 she attended Tiffin University, where she completed a two-year degree in accounting and secretarial science. She moved to Toledo, then Columbus to work for an accounting firm, and lived with Beth Clark, whom she fondly called her “first” friend.
“I have great memories of that time,” said Beth, who describes her lifelong friend as “probably the kindest, sweetest person I’ve ever met. I admire her determination.”
Barbara and Ray were married June 15, 1968. “My co-workers gave me a silver pitcher set thinking I would need it as a pastor’s wife. I used it once,” Barbara said.
Ray’s vocation as a Lutheran minister took the couple to California for 22 years. They lived in Hemet, then La Habra, where Barbara ran a daycare out of their home, and finally Upland, where the congregation treated the family (which by then included three children) to a Disney World trip for their 25th anniversary.
Still Barbara was homesick.
"I prayed and prayed that we would come back to Ohio. Whenever there was an earthquake my mother would call and say, ‘Are you coming home now?’”
In 1994 Barbara’s prayers were answered when Ray accepted a call at Zion Lutheran Church in Huron. He retired from Zion in 2011.
“It was very challenging being a pastor’s wife. People would look at you like you were on a pedestal all the time, but you weren’t. None of the churches expected me to do more than I could,” Barbara said. She volunteered for projects she enjoyed, such as making quilts for Lutheran World Relief, teaching Sunday school and overseeing the Altar Guild.
She worked full-time at Firelands Regional Medical Center, where she became executive assistant to the marketing director. She retired in 2006 and took up a new hobby – golfing in a women’s league at Thunderbird Golf Course.
“We laughed a lot on the course,” she said. One of the highlights was getting a birdie on her 70th birthday.
She turned her basement into a craft room, where she made wreaths, Christmas ornaments, counted cross-stitch wall hangings and other handiwork that she generously shared with family and friends.
“I’ve made a million quilts for the children and grandchildren. I just couldn’t sit still,” she said. On her computer are files with photographs of most everything she has made. One unfinished project are picture scrapbooks for each of her six grandchildren. She didn’t make greeting cards, but regularly sent them to family and friends for birthdays and Christmas, also Thanksgiving and Easter.
The Vances enjoyed traveling, including Elderhostel trips, cruises (especially Alaska, a retirement gift from Ray, and the Panama Canal), and overseas tours of Ireland and Iceland.
In 2007 Barbara planned every detail of Heather’s wedding and last June organized the couple’s 50th anniversary party. She put together a 20-minute video (“I had so much fun with that, I worked on it for months”), ordered commemorative wine goblets for guests and planned festive desserts. One thing she didn’t plan was Ray’s surprise when he asked her to renew their vows together. (She said “yes.”)
Barbara’s last list contained hymns, prayers and other arrangements for the celebration of her life.
Along with her husband, Barbara is survived by children Ted (Michelle) Vance, of Huron; Heather (Joe) Knueven, of Springboro; Adam (Carolyn) Vance, of Cincinnati; grandchildren Amber Vance, Maya Vance, Jacob Knueven, Allie Knueven, Nora Vance and Lily Vance; and siblings Carol Imes, Becky Donahue, Frank Wiewandt and Bill Wiewandt.
The Family will receive friends Thursday, May 23, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Foster Funeral Home & Crematory, 410 Main Street, Huron, and Friday at 1 p.m. until time of service at 2 p.m. at St. John Lutheran Church, 207 Adams St, Port Clinton, with Rev. James Lehman officiating.
Burial will be in Scott Cemetery, Huron.
In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made to St. John Lutheran Church, 106 Scheid Rd, Sandusky, 44870, or Stein Hospice, 1200 Sycamore Line, Sandusky, 44870
Online condolences may be shared at www.fosterfh.com.