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Barbara Jo Anderson was born to Lowell Herbert Wolff and Jane Lee Duncan on October 19, 1958. Barbara was born in Austin, MN, and moved to Park Rapids, MN, in 7th grade. She always considered Park Rapids her home.
Barbara grew up in a strong Christian household. She attended church all throughout her life. Many of her early childhood memories of church were of her mother, Jane, who played the piano for the church worship. Jane accompanied many churches. Barbara grew up listening to her mother play piano, as well as teach piano to many students throughout her youth. Barbara said she learned to play piano through listening to her mother’s lessons. Barbara could really play some great tunes on the piano, but she always said not to watch her fingers because none of it would be correct.
Barbara also was in band throughout middle school and high school. She played the clarinet which she has kept with her throughout her entire life. Barbara’s band teacher in 4th grade actually discovered that she needed glasses. He observed that when she played, she would bring the music stand very close to her face. He would move it back to assist her posture and she would move it close to her face again. When Barbara received her first pair of glasses, she learned for the first time that trees had leaves. She loved telling that story. At the end of her life, she shared with her daughter that the first thing she actually noticed was the grain in the wooden kitchen table. She had no idea that wood would have such remarkable designs.
Barbara graduated from Park Rapids High School in 1977, and went on to continue her education at M State, Moorhead, now known as Minnesota State University, Moorhead (MSUM). She graduated from M State with a Bachelors in Social Work in 1981. She was always clear to tell her daughter she has a bachelors in social work, not a bachelors in science with a focus in social work. She was very proud of her degree, being the first of her siblings to graduate from a four-year college.
Barbara worked on an Alaska Fishing Cruise line. Her brother, Randy and sister-in-law, Cindy went with her. She loved to travel. Alaska was one of her highlights before going on many road trips with her family. Barbara and her sister, Karen, also moved to Billings, Montana with nothing but a trunk in their Vista Cruiser station wagon filled with things they brought. Karen and Barbara opened a map, put down their finger, and that is how they decided on Billings. Her father, Lowell, made that trunk with her when she was a child. Clara now has that trunk. Clara used to have that as a toy chest in her room. That same trunk moved with Clara to her first, second and final home. Lowell and Barbara made a well-built chest with leather handles.
Barbara, in the footsteps of her mother Jane, accompanied a few churches in the area. Most notably she played at the Wolverton Evangelical Free Church in Wolverton, Minnesota. At the Wolverton church she met many life-long friends including her husband, Mark Anderson. Mark and Barbara had a short engagement. Their first date was February 5th, 1994, at Happy Joe’s Pizza on South University in Fargo, ND. Six months later they married on August 6th, 1994, in the Wolverton Church. Pastor Dale Clifton officiated the wedding. After the wedding they were brought by horse and buggy to their home two and half miles in the country on gravel from the Wolverton Church. Outside in the yard they had a reception with family and friends. After their wedding they took off on Mark’s Harley for their honeymoon at the Sturgis Rally in Sturgis, SD. Throughout their marriage they enjoyed many road trips together along with attending the Sturgis Rally every year they were able.
On June 23, 1997, Barbara had her first and only daughter who she named Clara Jo. Jo is a family name and Clara was determined because she and Mark cared for the cemetery and while mowing pregnant she saw about five headstones with Clara’s and thought that was a nice name. It has been a bit of a joke that she named her daughter after several dead people in the Eagle Cemetery. Barbara was proud and enjoyed homeschooling Clara. One of her proudest moments was Clara learning to read. She struggled but Barbara was determined for Clara to not only understand reading but enjoy reading as much as she did. Barbara, knowing Clara was struggling with reading, brought her to Barnes & Noble to pick out any book that she wanted. She knew Clara would only learn if it was fun. Clara’s first book was the 2nd in the series of the Magic Tree House. Barbara did not buy the first book however because of the first sentence that millions of years ago dinosaurs roamed the earth. Many years later Clara and Barbara recounted this memory and Barbara said that may have been a bit silly of her to not get the first book in a series.
Barbara and Mark longed to have more children. In 2004 they started the journey of foster care. Through foster care Barbara and Mark were blessed with the addition of their son, Mathew Winfield Anderson. Mathew has been in their home since leaving the hospital as a newborn in 2005, and officially adopted in 2006. Barbara’s final goal was to see Mathew graduate, which she did. She also attended Mathew’s graduation party, leaving the hospital the day before, after complications with pain management.
In the end, Barbara remained faithful. She never knew why she suffered with this diagnosis or why her life ended in pain, but she trusted the Lord and still shared the gospel to the very end.
Barbara was well loved on earth by many friends and family. We are at peace that she is now with her Savior.
She is lovingly survived by her husband, Mark; daughter, Clara (Mark) Niesche and their daughter, Wynifred "Wyni"; son, Mathew; mother, Jane; brothers, Randy (Cindy) and David (Sharon); sister, Karen (Lyle); and several nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her father, Lowell.
With her husband, Mark, by her side, Barbara died Saturday, July 15, 2023, in Sanford Hospice House, Fargo, ND, at sixty-four years of age.
Visitation will be Friday, July 28, 2023, from 5 - 7 PM, with a prayer service at 6:30 PM, in Eagle Valley Evangelical Free Church, rural Christine, ND.
Her funeral will be Saturday, July 29, 2023, at 11 AM, in the church.
Burial will follow in Eagle Valley Cemetery.
Barbara's recent testimony:
A testimony. I'm really not sure what to say. It still seems unreal. I was at work in June and holding my side. One of the nurses noted it and suggested I get it checked out. I shrugged it off. The next day it started hurting again. The nurse noted it, and the doctor I work with was concerned. She said "stop what you're doing and go to the walk-in". She pointed to the stairs and told me nothing else was important. I went to the walk-in clinic. Spent the afternoon there, CT scan showed some masses. Okay - I won't continue with all the medical stuff as everyone knows this all too well. So where is my testimony? I'm not sure. Do I wonder why I have cancer? Not really. I'm sort of curious of why, but I don't doubt God. What is the purpose of my cancer? Should there be a purpose? I work with a doctor who is Muslim. She seems to be very serious about her Muslim faith, but she is not traditional. She knows that I'm a Christian, but I'm not sure if she knows what that means. I do know that she had heard the gospel clearly. The nurse I mentioned early told me he spoke to her about an hour about our faith. So she is watching me. She says that I'm being very strong and brave. I taped Bible verses on my desk - helpful to me, and maybe she'll see them. So I am determined to continue on with this cancer journey with grace, perseverance and trust in God. I will hope to have an answer if someone asks why I'm not freaked out. Another co-worker said my husband must be worried sick. I said he isn't. Hubby said to me that if worry would help me he would worry all day long. But worry doesn't help. "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God" Phl 4:6. Do I feel punished by God? No. The book of Job is one of my favorites. Job lost everything. And in the end, he never received the reason for it. In the end, neither do I. What are we called to do? We are called to be faithful. I am blessed. I have a good and faithful husband. I have a good church family. I have a good job and good co-workers. I hope and pray that I will continue to be faithful. That even if things change and my prognosis worsens, that I continue to be faithful.