Marden (né Larson), Barbara Ann – Barb died 10/30/2017 after a long struggle with Lewy-Body Dementia and Parkinson’s Disease.
Barb was born February 28, 1946 in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin to Henning R. Larson and Lucile Horstmann Larson. She married Dave Marden in Topeka on June 22, 1968, the month after they graduated from the University of Kansas.
After her father died when she was four, her mother moved the family back to her hometown of Topeka, where Barb attended Topeka Lutheran School and Topeka West High School. She was active in school and community projects both at Topeka West and at K.U. At K.U. Barb was a junior class officer and president of her sorority. She graduated with a B.A. in Social Work and later received an M.S.W from K.U.
Barb and Dave have two children – Matthew of Framingham, Massachusetts (with wife Petra, grandson Nathan and granddaughter Olivia) and Kate of Arlington, Virginia (with partner Christopher Lynch, grandson Angus Lynch and granddaughter Pippa Lynch). Barb is also survived by her sister, Judy Larson of Albuquerque, New Mexico. She leaves many devoted friends, particularly Barb Malone, Gini Shoulberg and Nancy Rumsey, who supported her selflessly during her long illness.
Barb and Dave lived in Denver after graduation before returning to Lawrence for graduate work. After earning graduate degrees, they moved to Pierre S. Dakota, where Barb worked as an adoption caseworker for the State before starting her own family. They returned to Lawrence in 1980 and have been there ever since. She worked for the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department, where she was part of the team that created Project Lively, an innovative program serving older people. Even after she left the Health Department she often visited former clients with her children and St. John’s students. She later worked as a social worker/counselor at St. John’s elementary school and Baldwin USD 348. One of Barb’s favorite things after she retired from St. John’s in 2013 was her former students making a point of speaking to her when she was out in public. Getting permission to go to Mrs. Marden’s office was evidently quite a treat. These experiences showed that she clearly made a difference in the lives of many of her students, especially young girls.
Barb loved reading and travel, and was well-known for her ability to lose herself in a good mystery. She favored the mountains and the beach, so the family took frequent trips to Colorado, New Mexico and Maui, and then later to the Washington, DC area and the Czech Republic to visit her children and their families. Barb also made several trips to Sweden to visit cousins on her father’s side of the family. Across these travels, she loved the experience of trying new restaurants, and she was famous in the family for never forgetting a meal. Barb was a life-long animal lover who had a remarkably soft heart for all animals, but especially her dogs, including Fella, Zeke, Sadie, and now Annie. Dave had to develop tactics to distract her whenever they were driving and a stray dog came into view, because she inevitably wanted to stop to check on the animal. After Kate went away to college Barb inherited Kate’s horse and spent many afternoons grooming and riding Flash with her friend Marci Chan.
There will be a celebration of Barb’s life at Warren-McElwain Mortuary in Lawrence Thursday, November 2, 2017 at 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. Funeral services will be at Trinity Episcopal Church in Lawrence on Friday, November 3, 2017 at 10 a.m.
Memorial gifts may be made to the Lawrence Humane Society or Visiting Nurses Association of Lawrence Hospice Care, which provided wonderful care and support for Barb and Dave in her last months and may be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary.