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Barbara Kay Birnie Obituary


Memories & Candles

“Dear Family, Sorry to hear that Barbara has died. We taught together in lynch, NE. for two years. We sent a christmas letter every year to each...Read More »
1 of 9 | Posted by: Dianne Willey - Gettysburg, SD

“deepest condolences to all the family members.will always remember seeing barbra around beresford high with a smile on her face and a friendly...Read More »
2 of 9 | Posted by: DENNIS SWEETMAN - Tucson, AZ

“I was so looking forward to seeing Barbara at our 50th reunion this July as I was so impressed with her tales at our last class reunion and how...Read More »
3 of 9 | Posted by: Marlys Reierson - Arlington, SD

“We will miss Barbara at the 50th class re-union!! She was always consistently nice to all her classmates!! I remember her as always being the...Read More »
4 of 9 | Posted by: Ron Heglin - Surprise, AZ

“I am so sorry to see we have lost Barbara. I went to High School with Barbara in Beresford. I never knew she had so many health problems. I wish...Read More »
5 of 9 | Posted by: Connie (Urquhart) Hermanson

“Barbara will be missed. We always enjoyed her visits and the effort she took to make it to family gaterings. Our sympathies to Jeri, Maureen and...Read More »
6 of 9 | Posted by: Cheryl Poppens - Lennox, SD

“Maureen and Jerilyn, I am so sorry for your loss. Even though we haven't seen each other in years we were neighbors and had some fun times together...Read More »
7 of 9 | Posted by: Barbara (Briggle) Camilleri

“Maureen and family of Barbara. Our sympathy in the loss of your sister. Wow, what a journey she lived and experienced. Courage and faith did surely...Read More »
8 of 9 | Posted by: Phyllis Sternquist

“I am sorry to read about the passing of your sister Barbara, It sounds as if she had a happy and rewarding life. My prayers are with you. after...Read More »
9 of 9 | Posted by: Jan (Slagle) Paetow - Sioux Falls


Funeral services for Barbara Birnie, 68 of Gregory will be held on Friday morning at St. John Lutheran Church in Gregory beginning at 10:00 AM. Burial will occur at Beresford City Cemetery at 3:30 PM Friday afternoon. A prayr service will be held Thursday evening at 7:30 PM at the church in Gregory. BARBARA K. BIRNIE
Barbara Kay Birnie was born Dec. 28, 1940 the daughter of James Donald and Irene (Olbertson) Birnie at Beresford, SD. It was soon discovered that she was born with a heart condition and her parents were advised that irregardless of whether she was coddled or allowed to do as she wanted she would experience episodes. It was decided to sign liability waivers allowing her to participate in all activities.

She attended Pleasant Hill School near their farm home and Beresford High school, where she graduated in 1959. As a child Barbara could be driving tractor one day and the next be flat in bed with blankets piled high on a 90 degree day. The following day she would be out running, doing target practice or riding her bike. The Heart Foundation helped with her daily needs. Her Grandma Rose said Barbara was born with band-aids as she was at the doctors every week with some ailment. She couldn't have her tonsils removed because of the heart condition and her entire life she suffered from colds and sore throats.

In high school Barbara was directed to play the trombone as her arms were so long. Because of her long legs she was on the outside when the marching band made certain moves. She spent hours outside marching and playing among the pigs and cattle. She loved to swim and during her summers she became a junior life guard. Somehow she found a way to keep her glasses glued on while she was diving.

She entered the University of South Dakota as a pre-med student - her life with doctors led to that decision. Her vision would not allow her to view lab specimens so she was not allowed to continue. Today nobody can be kept from entering pre-med because of a disability. She was given an "interest" test to determine where she could use her scientific background and teaching ranked high. Barbara transferred to Sioux Falls College where she earned her degree in education in 1965. She then taught in Iowa, Nebraska and Gregory, SD.

During her college years she was involved with athletic teams - using her disability waiver. At one basketball game with Sioux Falls College and the University the "U" coach called the team off the floor saying they couldn't play until they had a liability waiver for Barbara. She almost lost a leg during this time when she had fallen on the concrete. Gangrene had set in but was contained. When Barbara walked she had a clicking sound because of the two heart valve replacements - which extended her life span.

Barbara's love of books led to a personal library which filled two storage buildings. The books are all catalogued by dewey decimal system. Anyone can walk in and choose a book to take home. Barbara never put them out until she had read each book to check for appropriate material for children. She was very proud that she could be a Teachers Assistant at a Space Camp for children.

Barbara loved to golf and bowl. She found ways to compensate for her eyesight. She sent weekly reports of scores to her relatives - and worried when someone in her team was ill.

Due to her heart condition she was advised to keep her weight below 145 pounds. She enrolled in weight watchers and faithfully followed their plan. Her happiest days were when she could take meals at the Nutrition Center. This provided her fellowship and allowed her to share her knowledge of nutrition of each food.

Two days before Barbara was flown to Avera, she recounted how two former students - one from Nebraska and one from Iowa - had located her phone number on My Space. They called and told her about the fun and challenges they had in her class. She regularly informed her family about her students success and struggles. Teaching turned out to be a good choice for her.

Located among her possessions were subscriptions to local newspapers including her home town of Beresford. Boxes of cut out obituaries on which she had written comments and 20 plus magazine subscriptions from sports to religion.

Barbara loved to travel. Her last trip was to Florida where she spent time in the hallway of an emergency room after falling while getting off the bus. She was soon off to see Disney World. Her trips on the Gregory bus to other towns evolved around her hospital schedule. She would tell about her purchases and of course the different food at each restaurant.

The Gregory Hospital staff was outstanding in the way they worked around Barbara's health episodes. It is one reason she held on for so many years. She loved the way she could work with patients and the staff. To them her family extends a very special gratitude.

Barbara died on May 18, 2009 at Avera McKennen Hospital in Sioux Falls.

She was preceded in death by her parents and sister Diane. Survivors are her sister Jerilyn Birnie of Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota and her sister Maureen and husband Maurice Marshall of Dearborn Heights, Michigan.

Deut. 31: 3-6 "The Lord himself will lead you and be with you. He will no fail you or abandon you, so do not lose courage or be afraid." Barbara's trust was in God and the guidance God gave her doctors throughout her life.