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Barbara Jane Wood
March 7, 1937 ~ November 17, 2023 (age 86) 86 Years Old
On Friday, November 17, 2023, Barbara J. Wood passed away at the age of eighty-six, surrounded by her children. She was a nurturing mother, kind grandparent, and caring friend. Her natural curiosity, love of learning, and commitment to improving society shaped her life and how she engaged with others. She was kind and generous to everyone she touched and brought joy and warmth to many people’s lives. She was the first person to volunteer and focused on what was best for those around her.
Barbara was born an only child just before WWII in Orange, New Jersey. When her father Frank was at war in the Pacific, her mother Mildred moved to Tucson, Arizona for Barb’s health. There Barb grew up, learned some Spanish, painted the beauty of the desert, and saw Elvis in concert. After winning awards for public speaking, she went to Pomona College in Claremont, California, and then to Stanford University for graduate school to become a speech therapist. While at Stanford she met Don Hartmann. They drove through the California foothills and valleys, and fell in love. In Tucson, Don asked for her hand in marriage.
Barb and Don moved to Redwood City where their first son, Mark, was born. When a colleague recommended Don for a faculty position at the University of Utah, they moved to Salt Lake City where Brian and Kara were born (at two-year intervals). While the kids attended local public schools, Barbara worked with children as a speech therapist at CBTU (Children’s Behavior Therapy Unit) and Don taught developmental psychology at the university. Outside work, Barb pursued creative interests: photography, watercolor painting, teaching art to her three children, sewing, flower arranging, and cooking (most notably English toffee, coffee cake, and muffins). She began what would become a 50+ year commitment to the League of Women Voters. As her kids grew, so did Barb’s career. She helped run the Speech and Hearing Clinic at the University of Utah, doing speech therapy with children and stroke patients. With both parents at “The U”, the kids earned advanced degrees too. For many years, Barbara worked seven floors up from Don in the Behavioral Sciences Building. Still, they grew apart, and after their divorce, Barbara moved to Las Vegas for an opportunity to work with Intermountain Health Care helping stroke patients. For fun she started line dancing, where she met Dave Jones, who loved to dance and sail. After a few years of smooth sailing, their marriage hit rough waters.
Barb’s third marriage, to Frank Wood, was a keeper. While checking on Don’s mother in Costa Mesa, California, she became friends with Frank, the retiree next door. They kept in touch, and eventually their friendship blossomed into love. Barb moved in with Frank when a speech therapy position opened at Houg Hospital in nearby Newport Beach. They married and enjoyed a life together near the beach. There Barb’s creativity bloomed, taking watercolor classes, joining Frank in growing succulents (including orchid cacti), and making dried flower arrangements. For years, Barb also provided inspiration and leadership to the League of Women Voters of the Orange Coast. From President to Program Director she organized and connected with members, discovering their interests, experiences, and strengths. In the evenings, she made English toffee for neighbors, friends, and coworkers.
As Frank’s health declined, Barb cut back to part-time work at the hospital. When Frank passed in 2016, Barb missed him terribly. She focused on exploring art galleries and gardens with friends and loved spending time with her children and grandchildren.
A few years later, Barb moved to Boise, Idaho to live near her daughter Kara and her husband Vince in a house two doors down from their own. For five years, the three of them enjoyed going to estate sales, plays, walks, garden centers, and on scenic drives. Barb befriended neighbors and developed several very close friends with whom she enjoyed long walks, dinners, and movies. She continued her creative hobbies and joined the local League of Women Voters where she registered voters at citizenship ceremonies. She also volunteered at the Assistance League (even ironing clothes at home), at CATCH homeless services, and later at the university food pantry. She always found time to make toffee just so she could give it away to make people smile.
Barb was always on the go. She loved to walk everywhere – to the local art museum, library, shops, and neighborhood thrift stores. She also checked off items from her travel bucket list: with Mark she visited San Francisco, Portland, and the Oregon coast. Kara, Vince and Barb shared many adventures, such as exploring civil war history in the South and western history in Pendelton. Brian and Barb traveled to Spain and more recently Glacier National Park.
While still active and fully engaged, Barbara suffered a major hemorrhagic stroke, and twelve days later she peacefully passed away, in her home, with her loving family on November 17, 2023. In her life she set an example of grace, goodwill, lifelong learning, and giving to those around her. She was a beloved mother, grandmother, and friend, and she will be deeply missed.
Barbara is survived by her children: Kara and her husband Vince in Idaho, Brian and his wife LeeAnn in Utah, and Mark and his wife Kathie in Tennessee. She will also be missed by Mark and Kathie’s four children: Alec, Max, John, and Julia. The family invites donations be made in Barb’s memory to the League of Women Voters or the Boise State University food pantry.