Barbara Stuva
Barbara Stuva
Barbara Stuva
Barbara Stuva

Obituary of Barbara Ann Stuva

Some people are here on earth to learn, others are here to teach.  Barbara Ann Stuva was a great teacher. Her strong spirit was perfected to teach us joy and acceptance. She  left a lasting impression and a great sense of loss to those who knew and loved her.  She spent many years in pain and had severe breathing difficulties in her senior years but you'd never know it because she always focused on being happy and busy.  She modeled love to all people who were around her.  She could make you smile with her smile, make you laugh with her laugh and she showed you how to appreciate all moments in life.  She was a survivor. If you listened she could wow you with her wisdom. 


Barbara was born in Brooks, Iowa to Maxine (Edith) Mitchell  and Dale Stuva on August 23, 1948.  She loved playing with her big brothers Robert and Duane.  She tried her  best to keep up with them and was accepted and loved in the small community.  In the mid 1950's the family moved to Portland, Oregon ( a larger town)  where there were better schools for children with different abilities. A few years later, Barbara became a big sister to Sue Ann and Denise who were also a big part of her life. Throughout childhood and adulthood she lived with her loving Mother Maxine. She thrived going to school at the Portland Children's Center where she got a full spectrum learning experience.  There was a great community of parents and kids to grow up and learn with.  They also joined together for vacations.  


She enjoyed activities like day camps and talent shows and won awards for her exuberant participation.  Barbara was a great singer. She may not have known all the lyrics to songs but the tune was always spot on.  It was a lot of fun joining her in song.  She loved music and as soon as she was exposed to them, she became an avid record collector. She wore out many turntables and countless record player needles over the years. Her collection was large and eclectic;  oldies, country, show tunes, pop, Christmas,  rock and roll,  even organ music.  Favorites over the years were the Monkeys, Chipmunks, and Johnny Cash. She played records all day long on Saturdays while simultaneously watching cartoons. No activities (not even a parade) on Saturday mornings - it was cartoons. She also loved and insisted on watching Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune at 7pm every weeknight. (It was awesome when technology allowed for the recording and viewing at any times)  You could say Barbara was a creature of habit. 


Barbara adored birthdays and Holidays. She had a calendar she made each month with set dates of celebration and she looked forward to them. She loved "gobble, gobble" Thanksgiving dinner. She loved giving little gifts to each person in the family at Christmas and birthdays.  She loved getting gifts which consisted of needed items like crayons, coloring books and toiletries like bubble bath for her long warm baths she enjoyed.  She would let you know of her disappointment if one of the gifts unwrapped was not a vinyl album.  Her family learned quickly to make sure that didn't happen often.   


Barbara loved her family. She had special words and ways to pronounce everyone's name in the family.  Some married couples had full sentence associations and nieces and nephews had names that were not theirs.  We all loved our special associations.  She loved new babies, her nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews. And they loved her. She also had sayings or repeats of phrases for most people in her life and through all the years they still remember them. It was fun and endearing. 


There was a large community of adults that went to dances at venues like the Elks lodge and Mt. Scott Community Center.  Their live band events were well attended by the disabled.  Barbara loved them and danced to every song.  She was known for her great moves and rhythm.  Barbara also enjoyed bowling on Wednesdays after work with a group of friends.  She had a beautiful  purple swirl ball specially made and shoes too that she rolled in her bowling bag. This group of adults stayed together in a league for many, many years. They, along with their parents celebrated 'strikes' with a resounding ring of a bell and shared cupcakes and treats celebrating birthdays.  They never gave it up, using ramps and helpers until they were no longer able to leave to get to the alley.  Barbara's bowling scorecards were kept in a treasured collection in her purse. Barbara liked carrying a green purse or fanny pack with her ID, bowling info and Kleenex! 


As a young adult,  Barbara began working in a workshop that did piece work for light manufacturing, offering work for people with disabilities. She worked there for over 30 years before it closed.  Some of her favorite jobs were sorting money and running a sealer machine for posters. She loved the independence of earning a paycheck and taking Tri-Met bus to and from work everyday. She always had rolls of quarters for bus rides and to use in the vending machines to complement her lunch with a soda and snacks. On days she wasn't working, she spent her time keeping her room spotless.  Her organizational skills were a sight to behold. Everything perfectly folded and items stacked with precision.  She knew where everything was and areas were entirely rearranged to accommodate new items. Definitely an art. 


Speaking of art, Barbara was an avid colorer.  Tens of thousands of pictures and posters have been carefully colored and handed out to family and friends. She called them her "pictures." They were carefully selected and signed, then folded and stacked to give away.  She also loved crafts and created many lovely tiny shell accessories such as pencils holders, mirrors and frames that many people were gifted.  Late in life, after her hands and shoulders got too sore, she became a constant painter. She loved painting pictures, figurines and wood projects. They filled her display shelves that had been reserved for "souvenirs" she'd collected from trips to the zoo and beach.  The shelves were full and carefully maintained and rearranged. Drawers contained printed "ABC's" cards that we specially packed and stored and held great meaning to her. 


We cannot write about Barbara's life without mentioning Batman.  Barbara never missed a Batman show and that carried on through the cartoon series and movies. Every year her community held Halloween parties.  One year on a shopping trip, a full Batman costume was on clearance and purchased.  It became her go to costume and hung in her closet all year waiting for the next occasion.  She even got a few recognitions in the form of trophies for best costume. Barbara was a lifelong admirer of tigers and lions.  Her daily clothing was mostly one of these animals or Batman printed on tees and sweatshirts, a pair of comfy pants accessorized by a watch and keys on a lanyard around her neck. In wintertime she would top off her attire with a unique animal, Batman or holiday hat.   Anyone who knew Barbara would think of her whenever they saw certain items in stores and many times they went with the urge and bought her what they'd found- records, jackets, water bottles, figurines and hats.  Barbara was a joyful, thankful gift recipient. She would exclaim, "That's niiiice! Ohhh, I keep that!"


in 2014, after 65 years together, Barbara moved away from her mom to live in Willow group home. She enjoyed her life there and got to know a lot of people over the years. She visited her mom and relatives and went on trips until  her health began to decline in 2018.  Her strong spirit kept her going as long as it could but she finally succumbed and passed away peacefully at home in hospice just short of 72 years old. 


Barbara knew Jesus. Barbara was the definition of love.  It is a great comfort to all of us that she is now with God and her beloved Mother Maxine.  They were two peas in a pod and now they can be together again in paradise and free of pain.  Thank you Barbara Ann for your great teachings.  We will miss you but we will see you again! 


As soon as the Covid Pandemic restrictions are lifted we will have a memorial service. We will contact friends and family when that time arrives. 


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