Obituary of Barbara Kollmeyer
Barbara Kollmeyer passed away at her home in Nevada City, Calif., with family close by, early in the morning on Wednesday, January 20, 2016. She was 74 years old. She was born Barbara Diane Bitting on December 26, 1941, in Santa Monica, Calif., to Robert Wise and Ina Henrietta Bitting. The attending physician was her grandfather, Dr. Henry J. Andrews. Barbara grew up in the Pacific Palisades with her parents and younger brother Ken. She attended University High School and then Fresno State, where she studied education, joined the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, and met her husband-to-be, Willy Kollmeyer. The two graduated in 1963 and moved to Los Angeles. On August 8, 1964, they were married. Barbara taught in Redondo Beach, while Willy completed his PhD in chemistry at UCLA. Over the course of their 51-year marriage, they would have three children and four grandchildren. In the fall of 1967, Barbara and Willy moved to St. Paul, Minn., where Willy accepted a job. They had their first child, Christopher, in 1968. Missing their families, they returned to California in 1969, where Willy began a career with Shell’s Biological Sciences Research Center in Salida, Calif. Barbara and Willy settled in nearby Modesto, where they had two more children—son Matthew and daughter Stephanie. Barbara and Willy raised their family in Modesto, enjoying the close proximity, love, and support of their children’s grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. They had great neighbors and made an abundance of lifelong friends, many of them through Shell. Barbara sat on the board of Trinity Nursery School, served as
PTA president at Sherwood Elementary, and helped organize the school’s enrichment program. When Shell’s Salida facility was purchased by DuPont in the fall of 1986, Barbara and her family, along with dozens of other Modesto families, moved to Delaware. Here, Barbara hosted many social events for the Shell “expatriates”, including an annual Thanksgiving feast. These events brought comfort and joy to many and resulted in countless fond memories. Barbara also taught in Delaware, serving as an aide at Wilmington Friends School in Alapocas. In the mid-90s, Barbara experienced the onset of Huntington’s disease. Traumatic though this was, she maintained a resilience that few could have mustered. In 1995, her son Matthew suffered a serious injury while living in Fresno. She brought him to Delaware and cared for him for two years, until he was well enough to be independent again. Barbara and Willy moved back to California for retirement in 1999, settling in Nevada City. Not long afterward, two longtime friends, Chuck and Mary Ann, moved to the same town. The four enjoyed regular Friday night dinners out. Though Barbara’s disease continued to progress, she managed to enjoy life. She even took two trips to Scotland to visit her son Christopher and his family. She also helped care for her father, who moved to an assisted living facility nearby, until he passed away. Her devotion to family never waned. In October, 2015, Barbara became ill with pneumonia but recovered long enough to see her entire family at Christmas. The grandchildren were especially attentive, showering her with love. She passed away one week after they left. Barbara’s life inspires her family and friends to love one another as she loved them. She is survived by her husband Willy of Nevada City, Calif.; son Christopher, his wife Cammy, and their children Quinn and Clare of Aberdeen, Scotland; son Matthew of Chico, Calif.; daughter Stephanie Paddack, her husband Todd, and their children Owen and Leo of Novato, Calif; and brother Ken Bitting, his wife Virginia of Mystic, Conn., and daughters Jennifer of Cambridge, England, and Adrienne of Washington D.C. The family wishes to thank Mereane Mamavaino, Debra Cahoon, and Andrea Skeen for their compassion and kindness. Anyone wishing to make a gift in Barbara’s memory may do so by sending contributions to: Hospice of the Foothills, 11270 Rough and Ready Highway, Grass Valley, CA 95945. A celebration of life will be held in the summer, when all the family can be together again.
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