In Memory

Barbara York (Niesen)

Barbara York (Niesen)

Year of death:  1999

Residence at time of death:  Nashville, Tennessee

Cause of death:  Breast cancer

Family:  Barbara's husband Ronald died in 2004; their daughter Heather Wolper lives with her husband in Cincinnati and has three young children.

Barbara's Life:   Her father, J. Robert York, was known as "Mr. Deerfield" for his many years of organizing community betterment projects in what was then a small village.   He led the drive to build the library, served as a village trustee, headed the United Way campaign and led the Chamber of Commerce for 25 years.  So it was no surprise that Barb devoted much of her life to helping the communities where she lived.

She went to the University of Illinois to study journalism.  At her sorority house one night she deftly intervened to fix a situation that could have embarassed Alpha Chi Omega.  A fellow who thought he had a date with one of the sisters arrived to find out she had booked two dates for that night.  Barb agreed to go out with the surplus guy.   The "extra" man was Ronald Niessen, and he and Barb went from the "overbooked" date to wedding bells in 1964.

They were living in Cincinnati, where Ron worked in retail management,  when Heather was born in 1978.  Barbara delighted in becoming a stay-at-home mom, active in her church's activities and volunteering at the childrens' hospital.    Heather remembers "a wonderful mom," who served as a girl scout leader and a docent at the art museum.  The family moved to Nashville in 1980, where Barbara continued to follow in her dad's tradition of striving to make a better community.

  She was always available to help out on church projects, and was in charge of decorating the church grounds at Christmas time.   Her daughter, who decided to alter career plans and go to work for the American Cancer Society after Barbara succumbed to breast cancer,  said she just wanted "To do something to give back.  I feel so blessed to have had a mother like the one I had."

go to bottom 
  Post Comment

01/30/09 10:37 AM #1    

Rosalie Ward (Delaney Neuwirth)

In our early teens, Barbara was an excellent tennis player who always beat me but never lorded it over me. So I always returned with her to the old blacktop tennis courts at Deerfield Grammar School, to be beaten again by this gal who was so gracious about winning. I remember that Barbara was never ego-centered like most of us were at that age. She was always a "lady," like her mother before her, whom I also remember for courtliness.

-- Barbara's Classmate Delaney (Rosalie Ward Delaney Neuwirth)

01/31/09 11:24 AM #2    

Faith Johnson

I am so grateful for the profile on Barbara. I had been thinking about her so much. - My father was also active in the community and served as President of the Deerfield Chamber of Commerce for a year or two and knew Barbara's father. So often around the dinner table he would talk in glowing terms about Bob York. -- Barbara had his dignity and I always admired her statuesque appearance. She never changed and even looked much the same - slender and lovely -- years after graduation. In the early 70's Barbara lived with her husband in her childhood home on the edge of the Kipling schoolgrounds. We would see each other once in awhile, but I regret I didn't get to know her better.

02/07/09 07:30 AM #3    

Heather Niesen (Wolper)

When I think about my mom I can't help but smile. I have so many wonderful memories of her. She was one of the kindest, gentlest, most selfless people I have known...and my best friend.

She was a wonderful example of a loving mother, supportive wife and devoted friend. She taught me so much about courage in the face of adversity. She lived with breast cancer for 12 years, and during that time I never once heard her complain or question why she was sick.

She told me that when she felt afraid or started to feel sorry for hershelf she would think of someone who needed prayer, and she would pray for them instead. Through her quiet example she taught me how to trust God in all circumstances and how to be joyful in the midst of hardship.

I'd like to share her favorite verse from the Bible because it sums up how she looked at life:

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy -- think about such things."

-- Philippians 4:4-8

07/20/09 01:36 PM #4    

Sandra Kwant (Freeman)

Barbara was Matron of Honor in my wedding December 1963. I was deeply saddened to hear of her loss. She was a loyal friend, gracious, generous,a truly lovely person. She was one of those rare individuals who made you glad to be a member of the human race, a woman with great integrity and gentleness of spirit. Sandy Kwant Freeman

go to top 
  Post Comment