Barbara Jean (Burch) Long died peacefully in Fort Wayne, Indiana on April 20, 2018. She was 86.
Barbara was born on June 18, 1931 at the Brown family farm in Willshire Township, Van Wert County, Ohio. As the eldest of seven daughters, and sister to two brothers, Barbara developed a deep sense of and dedication to her family. From the beginning and throughout her life, she held a prudent regard for nurturing and providing for her loved ones. Creativity was one of her many extraordinary attributes – and, boy, could she cook! Possessing keen resource management talents, Barbara fostered an abundant life, full of blessings and opportunities, and she accomplished it all with unrivaled style! She upheld a strong work ethic and fervently modeled responsibility, independence, generosity, and tutelage in the many facets of her life.
Barbara graduated from Fostoria High School, Fostoria, Ohio, in 1949. After graduating high school, she initiated her college education at Heidelberg Liberal Arts College in Tiffin, Ohio. Shortly after her college enrollment, Barbara seized a coveted employment opportunity at General Electric (GE) in Tiffin, Ohio and gained full time work there as an assembly line worker. During her years at GE, Barbara re-engaged her educational goals and achieved an Associate’s degree in Business from Stautzenberger College, Toledo, Ohio. Shortly after completing her studies, she relocated and obtained employment as an accountant at Mennel Milling in Fostoria, Ohio. Years after departing Fostoria, Barbara gained employment as a machinist in General Motors (GM) at the Delphi Chassis Systems plant in Sandusky, Ohio. At GM, she quickly formed friendships with her coworkers and aligned with the principles under union membership. She retired from GM in 1997 after twenty years of loyal service, maintaining her close friendships and membership in the United Auto Workers union. After retirement, Barbara became a full time caretaker for two of her grandchildren. In doing so, she enjoyed traveling and establishing residences in Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Florida, and Virginia.
A devoted daughter, sister, wife, mother, mother-in-law, aunt, grandmother, great grandmother, and friend, Barbara treasured her family and her extended family. On October 31, 1952, in Columbus, Ohio, Barbara married Lawrence Long of Blackfork, Ohio. Together, they raised their daughters until their divorce in 1970. Afterward, Barbara continued to raise her daughters, helped rear four grandchildren, and cared for countless others along the way. Left to cherish her memory are her daughters, Rhonda Burns, Tanya Long, and Lauren Long; honorary daughter, Sheila Foster; grandchildren, Alicia Burns, Jenifer (Burns) Ray and her husband Jacob, Aron Long, and Indya Davis; great granddaughters, Jaidyn and Johana Ray; sisters, Lela Crawford, Lois Burch, Carolyn Jones, Catherine Burch; brother, Jethro Burch; and many nieces, nephews, and fond friends. Preceding Barbara in death are her father, Jethro Burch (1900 to 1972); mother, Dorothy (Brown) Burch (1913 to 2003 ); brother, Fredrick Burch (1923 to 1987); and sisters, Betty Garnes (1933 to 2003) and Deborah Weiker (1948 to 2015).
During the course of her life, Barbara actively participated in many community activities and social endeavors. She was a longtime member of the Catholic Church and wholeheartedly gave, without partiality, through fundraising, hosting special events, cooking, worshiping, and outreach. Barbara sustained lifelong contributions to many charitable organizations through which she provided surgery for children across the globe; fed, clothed, and housed the homeless; supported the “troops;” and advanced medical research for a variety of diseases and disabilities. Barbara eagerly gave to family, friends, and anyone in need – on U.S. soil and abroad. When she was questioned about her habit of giving to strangers, Barbara would frankly retort, “That could be Jesus, you know;” and one of her favorite adages was, “Blood is thicker than water, but love is thicker than blood!” Her personal zeal for life was no less remarkable. She sincerely prayed, humbly thanked God for His infinite blessings and forgiveness, and shared boundless joy through her great sense of humor and hearty, infectious laugh. With her laugh and beautiful smile (topped off with a delicious meal), Barbara lightened up a room, turned a bad situation to good, and simply made the world a better place.
Barbara was steadfast in her commitment to civil rights and political activism. In earlier times, she worked alongside her mother and would continue the fight to establish equality, fair treatment, respect, and the values of human dignity and worth for all. Further carrying out her deeply rooted obligations, she proudly became a lifetime member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In addition, Barbara earnestly exercised the right to vote and inspired, NO, required young folks to do the same – no ifs, ands, or buts allowed!
In 2004, Barbara moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana where she remained throughout the rest of her life. Barbara relished sharing her days with the kinship of her sisters Carolyn and Catherine, niece Ateka Burch, nephews Malk and Aberam Hinton, and other local family members. As she enjoyed in her previous locations, Barbara also took great pleasure in her many interests while in Fort Wayne. She had many hobbies to include reading, engaging in political discussions, shopping, spoiling her grandchildren and great grandchildren, and collecting “All God’s Children,” African American figurines. She expressed great creativity and attention to detail through her artistic talents which included embroidery, knitting, crocheting, and doll making. One of Barbara’s greatest passions emerged through the art of quilting. As a dedicated member of the local “Sisters of the Cloth Quilting Guild,” Barbara joined in their support of various charities and communal projects.
Barbara’s family loves and misses her dearly. To honor Barbara’s life and share in her memory, her family invites you to join them for a “Celebration of Life” service on May 5, 2018, 1:00 PM, at Alspach-Gearhart Funeral Home and Crematory, with Chaplain Karen Kosberg presiding. The family will receive friends prior to the service from 12:00 to 1:00 PM at the funeral home. Interment will proceed to Greenbriar Cemetary. Ohio City, Ohio, with a reception to follow at 4:30 PM, in Hall’s Factory restaurant, Fort Wayne, Indiana.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to The American Society of Transplantation at 1120 Route 73, Suite 200, Mt. Laurel, NJ 08054, or donated online at www.power2save.org.
The family greatly appreciates all the loving visitors, flowers, cards, art (from Jaid and Jojo), and the staffs of Ashton Creek Rehabilitation and Parkview Hospice in Fort Wayne, Indiana during Barbara’s final months.