Barbara Jean Spears Hanson, 79, of Topeka, Kansas, died at Stormont Vail Regional Medical Center on March 9 2021, after a 9-month battle with cancer.
Barbara’s miraculous life began on June 5, 1941, in Grand Island, NE, where at birth she weighed 2 lbs and 12 oz. She was the only child of Jim and Catheron (McCoy) Spears. Her mother did not survive the birth, leaving Barbara to be raised by her maternal grandparents, with the help of her aunt, Jean (McCoy) Scully in the small town of Louisville, Kansas.
Although an only child, she grew up close to her cousins, especially Lois (McCoy) Lacock, who was like a sister. The two were known for erupting with laughter at the slightest provocation. Later, when her father remarried, she gained a brother, Herb Spears, and three wonderful step-sisters, Laura Vanek, Barb Prier, and Deb Kirkland.
Barbara graduated from Wamego High School and Washburn University with a teaching certification. It was while at Washburn that she met her husband of 57 years, Larry. Their courtship turned long-distance when Larry joined the Army. They were wed on November 30, 1963, when Larry came home on a short leave from his post in Germany. Their wedding was just a week after the Kennedy assassination, and they feared they would not get their marriage license in time due to government office closings. They spent their first year of marriage living in Augsburg, Germany, which they likened to a year-long honeymoon.
Upon their return to Kansas, Barbara taught Home Ec.in Courtland and Mayetta. They moved to Topeka and started a family, welcoming daughter Lori and son Lonnie. Barbara was a substitute teacher in the Seaman district and taught microwave cooking classes on the side. She rounded out her career as a long-term volunteer and then staff member with Girl Scouts of Kaw Valley Council, retiring as Assistant Executive Director. During her 30 years with Girl Scouting, she enjoyed opportunities to travel, train leaders and girls, and build close friendship bonds.
Leaving work life behind, she and Larry hit the road with their truck and 5th wheel trailer, visiting National Parks in 45 states, wintering in Texas and Arizona, and taking road trip vacations with grandchildren.
Family took center stage in Barbara’s life and she prioritized the activities of her children and grandchildren, attending ball games, band and orchestra recitals, theater, and dance performances.
Barbara continually used her Home Ec teacher in service to others. She was an excellent cook, famous for her pies and deviled eggs, and lovingly prepared meals for Girl Scout events, church dinners, and sponsored mission trips. She also was a brilliant seamstress, sewing everything from her own wedding dress (and her daughter’s) to middle school theater costumes. In later years, she worked with her church family on a blanket mission, creating hundreds of hand-made blankets for homeless children in Topeka and Kansas City. In every realm of life, Barbara took charge and got things done - all with her signature kindness.
Barbara and Larry were more than 50-year members of Pleasant Hill United Methodist Church. They also were active campers with a local camping club.
Barbara will Lie In State after 12:00 pm Tuesday, March 16 at Parker Price Funeral home where the family will receive friends from 5:00 pm-7:00 pm.
A Funeral Ceremony will be 10:30 a.m., Wednesday, March 17, at Parker Price Funeral Home, 245 NW Independence Ave., Topeka. Interment will follow at Rochester Cemetery, in Topeka.
Memorial contributions may be made to Pleasant Hill United Methodist Church Blanket Fund or to Girl Scouts of Northeast Kansas and Northwest Missouri, and sent in the care of Parker Price Funeral Home, 245 NW Independence Ave, Topeka, KS 66608.