Life Story / Obituary
A gentle, kindhearted, and courageous person, Barbara Terpenning was an extraordinary woman to know and love. She worked hard in everything she did, and she lived each and every day she was given to the fullest. A loving wife and devoted mother, there was no greater gift in Barbara’s life than her family as she was happiest when surrounded by their love. As her friends and family can attest, she was never seen without a warm smile that was contagious to all who were within her reach. Barbara will be dearly missed while her memory remains a lasting treasure in the hearts and lives of her loved ones.
Although the 1930s were very much defined by the Great Depression, the depth of the American spirit couldn’t be dampened. We demonstrated our will to succeed through the completion of the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building and celebrated Amelia Earhart’s accomplishment as the first woman to fly solo over the Atlantic. It was during this challenging time that a young couple from Muskegon, Michigan, had quite a lot to celebrate in their own lives as they were blessed with a healthy baby girl on January 4, 1933. Barbara Jean was the oldest of seven children born to her parents, Oris C. and Rose (Cyr) Mosher, and was raised in the family home on Madison Street on the East side of Muskegon alongside her brothers, Chuck, Gary, Mike, Tom, and Joe, and her sister, Mary. Her father was a machinist who was also a professional boxer at one time while her mother was a busy homemaker.
In many ways Barb experienced an upbringing that reflected the times. She attended St. Jean’s Catholic School for most of her education and also attended catechism. Barb took dance lessons while growing up and learned tap in addition to other styles of dance. She was a bit shy while growing up, but she learned to come out of her shell as she got a bit older. Barb went on to graduate from St. Jean’s in 1950 as one of 18 in her class.
It was while in high school that Barb got to know the young man who would forever hold the key to her heart. His name was James Terpenning, and they had actually known each other since the first grade. However, it wasn’t until Barb became friends with his sister that they became more formally acquainted when he used to give them both a ride to school. A romance was eventually sparked between them, and Barb and Jim fell deeply in love. With a desire to build a life together they were married on January 27, 1951, less than one year after graduating from high school.
Not long after, the newlyweds discovered that they were expecting, and later that year they welcomed their daughter, Laura, into their hearts and home. She was later followed by Jim in 1953, John in 1955, and twins Tony and Joanie in 1958. Barb and Jim raised their children in a house on 9th Street in Muskegon Heights until 1959 when they moved their growing family to a house on Giles Road in Laketon Township. It was there that Barb called home for the rest of her life. The Terpenning children were raised in a loving environment filled with plenty of fun. As a family they attended St. Mary’s Catholic Church. The Terpennings also looked forward to fun-filled family vacations on Harper Lake.
At times Barb worked outside of the home over the years. She did some volunteering at Hackley Hospital while in high school, she operated switchboard at one job and worked at Kresge’s for a time. Barb later spent seven years at the Kozy Korner Convenience Store in North Muskegon, worked for several local finance companies, and and then worked a secretary at Naph-Sol refinery, which she always said was the job she loved most. She ended her working years in the deli at the North Muskegon Kroeger store.
There were numerous things and people who enriched Barb’s life through the years. Both she and Jim were very social people who were always up for having fun. They had a great core group of friends and neighbors who often got together for parties and holiday events. Together Barb and Jim bowled as a couple, and she also played on the Westwind Golf League for several years where she served as league president at one time. She had numerous close friends including Darlene Brown and Marva Spira, and in her later years she became friends with Krista Frieberg. Additionally, Barb spoke to her Auntie Marie “Ree” on a daily basis. In the late sixties Barb and her husband were bitten by the travel bug and traveled extensively throughout the United States in their RV. They eventually made it to all 50 states and even went to Europe as well. One of Barb’s favorite places to visit was Las Vegas where she got to see Elvis and Tom Jones perform in person as well as several other acts. She loved to dance, and “Proud Mary” was one of her favorite dance tunes. Barb was bubbly and outgoing, and it has been said that she was also quite the flirt who always seemed to be kissing someone.
Her journey was not without times of trial for Barb. In 2005 she was diagnosed with cancer, and after a courageous battle she fought the disease into remission. Barb was deeply saddened with Jim’s sudden death in 2010, and although being without her lifelong companion was difficult, she was able to remain on her own with the help of family and friends. Earlier this year Barb’s health began declining, which grew to include breathing difficulties. She was a woman who was beautiful on the inside and out and was frequently told that she looked like Kim Novak, a movie actress from the seventies.
Life will never be the same without Barbara Terpenning here, but her timeless legacy that is deeply rooted in love will continue on in the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren she adored. She wasn’t afraid to tell it like she saw it, which ruffled a few feathers at times, but it was out of a heart whose greatest desire was for only the best for her loved ones. Barb will be deeply missed and warmly remembered.
Barbara J. Terpenning died on Sunday, November 24, 2013. Barb’s family includes her sons, Jim (Cindy) Terpenning III of IL; John (Judy) Terpenning of FL; Tony Terpenning of TX; daughters, Laura (Mark) Allen of Roosevelt Park, Joanie (Jeff) LeMieux of Muskegon; 21 grand children; several great-grandchildren; brothers, Charles (Madge) Mosher of Ludington, Gary (Betsy) Mosher of Muskegon, Michael Mosher of Muskegon, Thomas (Roxanne) Mosher of Muskegon, Joe Mosher of Muskegon; sister, Mary (Gary) Thaler of Muskegon. Barb was preceded in death by her husband, James and parents. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, November 30, 2013, 1:00 p.m. at the Clock Chapel - Muskegon with Rev. Ken Shady officiating. A Private Memorial Mass will take place at St. Francis deSales Catholic Church. Please visit www.clockfuneralhome.com to leave a memory or sign the online guest book.