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BARTH, Mary Francis (Pavich) 1925-2014


Posted By: S. Bell
Date: 2/2/2015 at 01:36:03

[Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, Wednesday, August 13, 2014]

Mary Frances "Poppins" Barth, 88, died peacefully at 8 o'clock in the morning on Monday, Aug. 4, 2014, at Covenant Medical Center, Waterloo, after a brief bout with a severe pneumonia. Her children, Gary, Diane and Eugene Barth, and Dr. William Arban, her surviving brother, Father Philip Pavich, and close family in the area, had been in quiet, supportive attendance since her admission nine days earlier.

Mary Frances ("Mom") was born in Waterloo on Nov. 29, 1925, the first child of Mary and Steven Pavich, Croatian immigrants whose courtship began when Grandpa Steve rolled an apple across the floor to Grandma Mary at a Croatian dance. Mom was soon joined in life by sister Diana, and brothers Philip and Aloysius. They all grew up together at 810 Riehl St., Waterloo.

Mom received her entire primary school education at what was then a new Catholic school in Waterloo: St. Mary's Sacred Heart. After graduating from St. Mary's at the tender age of 17 (Class of '43), Mom and several friends, who were also fresh out of high school, signed on with DuPont, who was then in Waterloo recruiting for a "Pacific Northwest war construction project" with "an attractive scale of wages. The mother of one of Mom's friends signed on as a baker in order to chaperone the young ladies to Washington state. Little did any of them know that they had been recruited to work at the Hanford plutonium works, one part of the top secret Manhattan Project which had as its aim the development of the atomic bomb.

After World War II ended, Mom stayed on at Hanford, moving off base to nearby Richland. When the Idaho ski resort, Sun Valley, reopened in 1946, Mom learned to ski there. During her time in the Pacific Northwest, she also became a dedicated golfer and tennis player, purchased her first car, learned to drive it with minimal lessons, and for a time drove without a license. She was an excellent driver. She often said she would like to have been a race car driver, if that had been possible in her day: a boyfriend had taught her the benefit of slowing before a curve, and then accelerating through the curve, a lesson she passed on to her kids. Mom bought all of the family cars, and had an excellent mechanical sense, frequently impressing the local mechanics with her car smarts.

After a decade in the Pacific Northwest, Mom returned to her hometown of Waterloo, where she met her husband-to-be, Ralph Barth ("Dad"), who was then a guest organist at St. Mary's Church. Sharing a love of classical music, they courted and married in Waterloo, and moved to Denver, Colo., where they began their family.

In 1965, Mom brought the family back to Iowa, where Dad had enrolled as a full-time student of English at the University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls. Mom worked full time while making a home for her family at UNI's Sunset Village, a set of corrugated steel huts for married students dating from the late 1940s and originally meant to last only five years. Like many other homemakers in "the Village," Mom appreciated the value of the housing at a monthly rent of $25.

In 1972, Mom again moved her family, this time to Iowa City, where Dad pursued a PhD in English while Mom worked at the UIHC General Urology Referral Desk, which she simply referred to as the "GU refer."

Mom eventually transferred to the UI Library, working in the Government Publications Department -- or "Gov Pubs," as she called it. She retired from Gov Pubs in 1988 at the age of 63 and enjoyed a lengthy retirement full of friends, family, and travel -- both in the States and abroad. She also began a second career as a nanny for many local families, earning the nickname "Mary Poppins."

Throughout our life with her, Mom demonstrated an endless capacity for making new friends at all levels of her world, and her loving generosity knew no bounds, whether it took the form of giving strangers rides home on wintry nights, inviting stray friends and acquaintances over for holiday dinners, or opening up our home as a veritable hostel to friends and family alike. Mom was an ardent practicing Roman Catholic who fully embraced the directive of Luke 10:27: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself."

We're going to miss your huge, loving, generous heart, Mom; but we go forward proudly and lovingly, bearing in profoundest gratitude the deep, beautiful marks your love, generosity, creativity and passion have left on us all. As you said of yourself to us on many occasions, Mom, our love for you is "forever" -- we will love you always, Dearest Mamon, forever, and ever, and ever ...

We wish to extend our deep gratitude to the capable and compassionate doctors and staff at UIHC, UnityPoint Health's Inpatient Acute Rehabilitation program at St. Luke's Hospital in Cedar Rapids, NewAldaya Lifescapes in Cedar Falls, and Covenant Medical Center and Cedar Valley Hospice in Waterloo. Your excellent medical care allowed Mom to enjoy solid quality of life in her final years.


Black Hawk Obituaries maintained by Kermit Kittleson.
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