Barbara Jean (Coad) Whitman

EVART — Barbara Jean (Coad) Whitman, 77, of Evart, died on Sunday, Feb. 1, 2015, at her home in Osceola Township.

A Celebration of Life memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015, at Evart United Methodist Church.

Barbara was born on Sept. 23, 1937, in Auburn, Neb., the youngest of six children, to Edgar and Grace Wise Coad. She attended Auburn Public Schools and graduated from Auburn High School in 1955. She loved school, her classmates and participating in many extracurricular activities such as class plays and skits, FHA, Library Club, band and chorus, which strengthened her love of music, pep club and cheerleading.

On Sept. 1, 1957, Barbara was united in marriage to Richard Whitman at the Christian Church in Auburn, Neb., with her brother, Merwin, performing the ceremony. They were blessed with three sons, Russell, Richard and Eric. Dick and Barbara celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 2007 with their family in attendance.

Barbara was a stay-at-home mom for several years, but recognized the need to return to school. She earned a diploma in nursing from St. John’s Hospital School of Nursing in Springfield, Ill., in 1970 and began her nursing career as a staff nurse in the orthopedic unit. When they moved to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, she changed to nursing education. This career change required additional education and she received a BSN from Northern Michigan University in 1978 and a M.S. in Nursing from the University of Minnesota in 1987. She taught in the nursing program at Michigan Technological University in Houghton and then at Suomi College (now Finlandia University) in Hancock, becoming Chair of the Nursing Department in 1996. She retired in 2000 after 23 years in nursing education. She was a past member of the Michigan Nurses Association, Sigma Theta Tau Nursing Honorary Society and the American Heart Association, where she taught CPR.

Dick and Barbara moved to Evart from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in 2003 to be closer to family. She transferred her membership to the Evart United Methodist Church, where she played the organ for several years. She also was a member of the Osceola County Commission on Aging Advisory Board for a number of years.

Barbara loved to be with her family and was happiest when they were all together. She especially enjoyed her grandchildren, attending their activities and watching them grow. Music was an important part of her life, playing the piano, organ and especially the French horn. Listening to a variety of music (classical, easy listening and Canadian brass) brought her comfort. One of her greatest pleasures was playing the French horn (after more than 50 years of absence) in the middle school band where her granddaughter was a member. It brought back wonderful memories and proved that she could still do it! She also enjoyed scrapbooking and reading.

Barbara was preceded in death by her husband, Richard; her parents; three siblings, Donald, Duane and Dorine; and a nephew, Jim.

Surviving are three sons, Russ, of Vincennes, Ind., Rick (Pat), of Holland, and Eric (Kelly), of Evart; grandchildren, Nicholas, Katelyn and Scott; brother, Merwin; sister, Marilyn; nieces, nephews, cousins, and numerous other relatives and friends, all of whom helped make her journey through life interesting, pleasant and enjoyable.

Interment of ashes will take place at Lafayette Cemetery in Brock, Neb., at a later date.

Memorials in lieu of flowers are suggested to the Evart United Methodist Church, Dighton Wesleyan Church Building Fund or the charity of your choice.