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BARKER, Elmira Blaine “Bunny” (née Russell) (1915-2015)


Posted By: Paul Nagy (volunteer) (email)
Date: 4/6/2015 at 12:53:10

Elmira Barker, age 99, of Iowa Falls, Iowa, passed away on Tuesday, March 10, 2015, in Mason City under the care of Hospice of North Iowa.

Elmira Barker, a daughter of Thomas H. and Leah F. (Johnson) Russell, was born on June 6, 1915, in Webster City, Iowa. When she was but a few weeks old, her parents took her to Kincaid, Saskatchewan, Canada, where her father had homesteaded on a prairie wheat farm while engaging in the real estate and insurance business. When she was eight, the family returned to Webster City, which remained her home until she married Don W. Barker on December 23, 1938. Later, he became an Iowa Falls attorney. While they were still dating, he began calling her “Bunny.” After they moved to Iowa Falls, everyone they knew started calling her “Bunny” Barker.

Bunny graduated from Webster City High School in 1933 and from Grinnell College in 1937 with a B.A. degree in dramatic art and with minors in English and mathematics. Subsequently, she taught English and coached all the plays at the Marion, Iowa, high school for four and a half years. During World War II, she and Don worked for the U.S. Government in Detroit, Michigan. Bunny worked as a civilian instructor in the Army Signal Corps. In the fall of 1945, they selected Iowa Falls for their permanent home. They had a house built for them at 400 Jason Avenue and lived there for sixty years.

Bunny taught high school English for one semester in Eldora and two years in Iowa Falls. For some twenty-seven years, she assisted in preparing income tax returns in her husband’s law office.

Active in many local community organizations, she joined the First Congregational Church (UCC), the Ellsworth Municipal Hospital Auxiliary, the Calkins Nature Center, the Highland Country Club, the Edgewood Board, the Women’s Club Board, The American Field Service Committee, the Iowa Falls Historical Society, and the Sister City Programs. She also entertained visitors from around the world. Interested in public libraries, she served for a total of twenty-five years on the local Iowa Falls Library Board and for a number of years on the State Library Board and the Regional Library Board, serving as president of the latter for two and a half years. For over sixty years, she belonged to the Isabella Literary Society, for which she gave many programs, and P.E.O., a sisterhood devoted to higher education for women, the two organizations she loved the most.

Her hobbies included porcelain painting, reading, and playing golf. An exceptional seamstress, Bunny sewed many of her own and her daughter’s garments including her daughter’s wedding dress. Moreover, she enthusiastically joined her husband on their travels to over thirty countries.

Her daughter, Jane, was born in 1949 and is now a retired teacher in Forest City, Iowa. Her son, Bruce, was born in 1951 and now works as a software engineer living in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

Bunny loved her children, her grandchildren, and her sister’s family. She took pride in decorating and managing her home, and she enjoyed entertaining friends, relatives, and foreign guests there. She had a warm and outgoing personality with a ready smile.

She was preceded in death by Don (2013), her husband of over seventy-four years, and her sister and brother-in-law, Dorothy and Robert Naden (2002). She is survived by her daughter, Jane (Paul) Nagy, of Forest City, Iowa, her son, Bruce (Valerie) Barker, of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and her grandchildren, Anthony Barker and Jason, Blaise, and Marissa Nagy.

Visitation will be at Linn’s Funeral Home, 1521 Washington Avenue, Iowa Falls, on Thursday, March 12, 2015, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Funeral services will be held on Friday at 10:30 a.m. at the First Congregational Church, 520 College Avenue, Iowa Falls, followed by a luncheon. Burial will take place in the Union Cemetery in Iowa Falls.

Memorials may be made to the Elmira Barker Memorial Fund in care of the Iowa Falls State Bank and will be distributed among P.E.O. Projects, the Barlow Public Library, and the first Congregational UCC.

Copyright © 2015, the Family of Bunny Barker.


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