May 6, 1950 ~ August 27, 2023
It is with extremely heavy hearts that we announce the peaceful passing of Barb: sister, wife, mother, grandmother and friend extraordinaire.
Barb is survived by her daughter Jennifer (Walter), granddaughter Katyryna, sister Sharron (Bill) McGregor, brothers David (Catherine), Wayne (Denise) and Gary (Donna) Gork, sister-in-law Evelyn Lentz and many nieces, nephews and godchildren. She was predeceased by her parents Keith & Irene Gork, step-mom Grace Gork, beloved husband Bernie and Bernie’s siblings Richard Lentz, and Helen & Alfred Witzke as well as Bernie’s parents.
Mom was an army brat – something she carried with quiet pride but it also shaped who she was. Her tales of life on base as a child were often hilarious but poignant as she Sharron & David navigated childhood together. Wayne and Gary came later to complicate a teenage Barb’s life! She got to live just about everywhere in Canada because Grandpa was transferred often. CFB Shilo was Mom’s final military residence before adulthood and it was there she met lifelong friends Gary & Shirley (Burkin at the time) Paine. Mom did Grade 11 twice because, as she said, she liked it too much, but at 18 was accepted into nursing school in Kenora and attained her LPN certification.
After nursing school she worked in various hospitals in New Brunswick and northern Ontario as well as Kenora, before wandering to Beausejour for a visit with Gary & Shirley. They took Mom to a social and that is where Mom met Dad and it was love at first site. After Dad just about ruined the bottom of the car flying low to Kenora numerous times to see Mom, Mom got a nursing position at the Beausejour Hospital and moved to town.
Thus began a life of love and laughter with some trials thrown in for good measure with Bernie. Mom learned how to make pirogies and buckwheat sausage the way Grandma Lentz did just for Dad. They welcomed me into the fold with great joy and our journey as a family of 3 began. Mom continued her working career as a dental assistant for several years, then paused everything to remain at home with me during the early stages of my life. Once I was old enough to babysit and to be home alone for a while, Mom re-entered the workforce as a homecare worker. She enjoyed this work as she loved getting to know her clients and their families. And both clients and families loved Mom, not only because she took interest in them but because she was an amazing cook and fed everyone their favourite things. It got to the point where Dad and I went into pirogi withdrawal because Mom cooked so many for her clients, she didn’t even want to see one at home!
Once I finished school and began my wanderings around the country working and living my life, Mom & Dad packed up the minivan and hit the road looking for me. There were many times I was stunned they made it because Mom couldn’t read a road map to save her life and Dad couldn’t drive and read the map at the same time! But they always found me and we enjoyed the sites and sounds of whatever community I lived in!
Then, when I started bringing Walter around, Mom and Dad welcomed him with open arms. Mom loved helping me plan my wedding and we had a fantastic day shopping for my wedding dress together! Then Walter & I made Mom & Dad grandparents. After Katy arrived, Mom found a new purpose in life. She was emotional the day we put a carseat in her car. “I’m officially a grandma!” she declared with pride!
After Dad was admitted to East Gate in 2012, we had much discussion and it was decided that Mom would move in with me, Walter & Katy in a home that could accommodate her. So we found a fantastic home and we created Grandma’s House in the lower level. This became a time of rest and recuperation for Mom as she was exhausted from being Dad’s primary caregiver for too many years. And it was a blessing for Walter and I as we had someone home after school to watch Katy while we were finishing our workdays. Mom and Katy developed an amazing bond. It was wonderful to watch them together.
Mom was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2020. It was managed until she reached a point in fall 2021 where she required radiation treatment. She successfully completed treatment and carried on with her life. Everything was going well until late 2022 when the doctors realized mom’s cancer was now in her tongue. Mom had one dose of chemo and it put her in the hospital for 3 weeks because she had every possible side effect to the worst degree. The chemo worked in reducing the tumour, but Mom vowed she was never going through those side effects again. So the doctors had to change tactics. Unfortunately, the cancer ultimately stole her from us. It was too aggressive and Mom always had the quality over quantity attitude towards life. She never wanted surgery or tubes or extreme lifesaving measures. With her medical background, she had seen the good, the bad and the ugly and was adamant that she didn’t want to be kept around longer than her expiry date.
We would like to thank the doctors and nurses at CancerCare Winnipeg and CancerCare Steinbach for their efforts in helping Mom. And thank you to Mom’s most special friends, Charlotte and Edward Dubray, Heidi Scott and, of course, Gary & Shirley for years of friendship, laughter and good company. Knowing how well you loved Mom has been a blessing to us over the years.
A memorial service for Barb will be held on Friday, September 1, 2023 at 10am in Beausejour at Soberings Funeral Chapel and Crematorium. Interment will follow the luncheon.
In lieu of flowers please make a donation to CancerCare Manitoba.Print This Obituary & Condolences