Barbara Ann Flores was a loving family woman, faithful friend and beautiful child of G-d. Kind and caring, brave and compassionate, she lived through challenges with the same grace she had experienced, and she celebrated the blessings of life with exuberance. She was at the same time fun-loving and practical, gentle and direct, scholarly and prayerful. Among friends and family, the common description of her life and personality was ‘giving.’ Barbara generously gave of herself to make life sweet for those around her.
Barbara’s story began at a time of optimism in American life, when the nation was recovering from WWII. Families had sacrificed much yet maintained the determination to make the world a better place. Barbara Ann was born July 1, 1947 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Shirley (nee Shuetz) and Raul Flores, a crane operator with Maynard Electric Steel. From the ages of 7 to13, Barbara lived at 1011 North Van Buren Avenue and attended Jefferson Elementary School. Brimming with energy, Barbara and her younger sister, Peggy, participated in Milwaukee Recreation activities that included games and scooters, swimming and fishing trips. For entertainment, the “peas-in-a-pod” and Peggy’s friend, Germain, often went to the movies at the Ogden for $.25, but the fun really started when they headed home. With Germain’s six brothers chasing them along the way, the laughing girls managed to make it to the house and then let out Beta, their very protective German Shepherd. The tables soon turned as Beta chased the boys away.
Like most teen aged girls, Barbara enjoyed makeup, clothes, first kisses and spending time with friends. Some of the fondest memories of her youth were the times her cousins brought her to the sock hops. Dance and music became lifelong pleasures. Barb especially enjoyed listening to Rhythm and Blues music, counting B.B. King and the Temptations among her favorite artists.
Barbara attended Lincoln High School and transferred to Riverside High School, but it wasn’t until later that she earned her G.E.D. at Milwaukee Area Technical College. She worked at Dunkin Donuts before taking a job as an electrical assembler with Astronautics for two years and then in a similar capacity at General Electric for 15 years. However, Barbara worked hardest for her family and went to any length to make sure they had what they needed. Whether it was food, clothes, money for a trip or a place to stay for the week (month or year), Barb made a way to share what she had without hesitation and from the depths of her heart.
Barbara’s family included her beloved children and a growing number of grandchildren. As a mother, Barbara was loving, thoughtful, curious, earnest and humble, becoming a role model to her children and other young people. She could be brutally honest, saying such things to wayward youth as, “You hang around with skunks, you’re gonna’ stink.” She was also tender. When a neighborhood teen was experiencing depression and frequently came to speak to Barbara, Barb gave her a cross necklace that she had purchased at the Goodwill store. The young girl was moved to tears by the gesture. That was Barb. A $2.00 gift was received as a priceless offering.
Barbara always did the best she could at showing that G-d came first in her life. From a young age, she had been searching, learning and growing as a woman of G-d. She lived her life as a testament of her faith. For example, at the birth of her great-niece, Barb prayed over the newborn who had to receive oxygen because the cord was wrapped around her neck. Unashamed of her prayers, Barb boldly offered them in that hospital room. Whether it was the oxygen, the prayers or Barb’s loudness that got the little girl to turn pink and scream was open to opinion, but no one in the room doubted that Barb was calling down heaven. It was consistent with her role as prayer warrior for her family and friends.
Barb’s family enjoyed everyday moments with her: going to the thrift store, roller blading, sitting at the kitchen table over coffee and fried potatoes, spending time talking about nothing significant or about hard life lessons she had learned. Using her own life as an example, Barbara made herself vulnerable. She was “very human” and very forgiving. She learned to ask for forgiveness, because G-d had taught her the beauty of being forgiven.
Barbara wasn’t committed to any one worshiping community, but she was enthusiastic about introducing others to G-d. Many people can point to Barb as the one who walked them into church—sitting with them and praying for them. Of course, Barb’s favorite group to sit with was her family: next to grandpa, her sister, children, grandkids, nephew, nieces and great-nieces.
In Barbara’s home, holidays were major events, she was very proud of her Mexican, German and Irish heritage. Preparing her house—cleaning, cooking, decorating, gift giving—was an expression of love for her family. Gathered together, they enjoyed her ethnic meals and turkey, world class stuffing and au gratin potatoes with ham. She treated her grandkids equally, giving each of them the same gift. But one treeless Christmas many years prior, Barb had struggled to make it special. Just before the 25th, she went out to a tree lot and soon came home with a tree that had been given to her, and the family made a popcorn garland. They ate, watched classic movies, laughed and received one practical gift for each of them. What made that Christmas wonderful was not the size or number of gifts, but the beauty and sincerity of a humbly decorated tree, Barbara’s meaningful gifts and simply being together.
Being the skilled and curious person that she was, Barb listened to R&B, classical, Irish and Christian music, played the cello, wrote poetry and painted. She had a wide interest in books and liked watching Braveheart, old movies and Son of G-d. She enjoyed attending the local ethnic festivals and learned all she could about Judaism, even studying Hebrew. Her pet word was chutzpah—a Yiddish word meaning courage or devotion. Barb traveled to such places as Mexico, Puerto Rico, Greece, Turkey, North and South Carolina, Miami, Michigan, Illinois and Indiana, as well as to California to witness the marriage of her friend—an act that was not forgotten. Also, the picture of her dancing to the song Celebrate at her granddaughter’s party was a memory the family will long remember.
Barb was loyal to Wisconsin sports teams—the Brewers and the Packers—and she and Grandpa taught the family to favor the Packers through good times and bad. Supporting them was a family requirement but yelling at the screen was optional. Her favorite American presidents were also Midwesterners from Illinois and Missouri, Ronald Reagan and Harry Truman, respectively.
Barbara marked the greatest moment of her life as the day she was baptized in 1979. It further encouraged her to live the Bible verse from Philippians 4:13 that became her motto: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Along with her faith, Barbara’s legacy is her family. The image of her praying and dancing to G-d’s glory is burned into their memories. They walk with the imprint of her never-ending love and prayers upon them. They give and share with the world in the same manner as she—without hesitation and with sincere affection. Like Barbara, they love G-d.
Surrounded by her loving family and G-d’s grace, Barbara Ann Flores passed away on Sunday, December 7, 2014. Loving mother of Christian (Marisol), David (Kozue), Clinton and Nicole. Proud grandmother to Ashley, Kristen, Nari, Isabella, Gabriella, Sean, and Emilio. Best friend and sister of Peggy Karr. Further survived by her cherished nieces, nephews, cousins and other relatives and friends. Proceeded in death by her loving parents, Raul Delarosa Flores, Shirley Garcia (Nee Schuetz) and sister Regina.
Family and friends will gather at the Funeral Home on Saturday, December 13, 2014 from 12:00 Noon until the time of the Memorial Service at 1:00 PM.