Barbara Lee (Richling) Weller entered into eternal life on August 6, 2020 at the age of 82. The last three years of her life may have included a battle with cancer, but the illness was powerless to define her. Rather, by grace and example, she showed her family what true strength and courage looks like, to the very end comforting as often as she was comforted, delighting in her grandchildren and great-grandchildren and finding great blessing in the strong family support that surrounded her.
Barb was born April 26th, 1938, in Lisbon, ND, to John and Ella (Freeberg) Richling. John was a German immigrant who arrived in America at age 19; Ella’s parents immigrated from Sweden. Barbara was the youngest of 14 children.
When Barb was a teenager, she proudly served as a plane spotter with the Ground Observer Corps. Armed with pictures of enemy aircraft, she would climb “Lookout Hill” to the small wooden observation shack above Lisbon to scan the skies for enemy bombers during the early years of the Cold War.
Barbara graduated from high school in Lisbon, ND. She was a majorette in the marching band, played kettle drums and bells in the concert band and sang in a quartet. Outside of her musical interests, Barb was a cheerleader and also played half-court girls’ basketball. Away from school, she worked selling shoes at her father’s store.
After graduation, Barb moved to Fargo and attended Interstate Business College and worked in data processing at Pioneer Mutual Insurance.
Barbara married Jan Barrett (“JB”) Weller on July 1, 1961, at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Fargo, ND. They made their first home in Fargo, but in 1967, JB and Barb moved to Gwinner and built the Crossroads Supper Club. The Crossroads was a fixture in the business community for more than thirty years.
Barb was a long-time member of St. Vincent’s Catholic Church in Gwinner and belonged to Christian Mothers. With a servant’s heart, she taught catechism for 23 years. A tireless community volunteer, her energy and industriousness were legendary. In retirement she enjoyed her exercise classes at Mobility Plus.
Barb was a consummate conversationalist which is to say she was never at a loss for words. JB’s affectionate nickname for her was “Gabby.” If a story was worth telling once, it was definitely worth repeating and surely anyone who listened to it twice was willing to hear it for a third time.
She never missed a birthday or an anniversary and magically a card, carefully selected and perfectly suited to the personality of the recipient, would appear on the day of the event. Barbara was a wonderful cook, and she graciously passed along to her daughters the family tradition of cooking too much food. There was always room at the Weller table for one more.
She is survived by five daughters: Karla (Randy) Waloch, Gwinner; Maria (Kurt) Kooyer, West Fargo; Paula (Colin) Clarke, Fargo; Jana (Anthony) Insogna, San Diego, CA; Lindsay (Andrew) Winter, Maple Grove, MN, eleven grandchildren: Alexander (Brittney) Waloch; Taylor (Emma) Waloch; Ariel Hermanson; Jenna Jones (fiancé- Brad Cohen); Daniel and Sophia Insogna; William, Andrew and Ella Kooyer; Ethan Clarke; Victoria Winter, and three great-grandchildren: Karina, Blake, and Ellee Waloch. Surviving siblings include a sister, Jo Chaney, a brother, Jim (Marcia) Richling, and brother-in-law, Delair (Diane) Weller. She is also survived by many nieces and nephews. Many others called her a second mom and to all of them, she was a touchstone.
She is preceded in death by her parents, her beloved husband JB, six brothers and five sisters and their spouses, her in-laws, Cliff and Katherine Weller, and brother-in-law, Thomas Weller.
The family of Barbara would like to thank the many wonderful healthcare workers of Roger Maris Cancer Center, Dr. Steen, Dr. Sticca and all the wonderful staff at the Gwinner Clinic for exceptional care and kindness. To the many friends who brightened her day with food, visits, love or transport, we cannot thank you enough. And to the community of Gwinner for showcasing the best of small town living, we feel blessed by your benevolence.
A graveside service for immediate family is planned for August 12th, Gwinner Cemetery. A drive through visitation is planned for any who wish to participate from 11:15 AM- 12:30 PM at the Gwinner Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to St. Vincent’s Church, PO Box 163, Gwinner, ND 58040 or Gwinner First Responders, PO Box 433, Gwinner, ND 58040.
Finally, let’s remember Barb by honoring her mottos, “Be as generous as you dare,” and “Love thy neighbor without exception.”
Dad, get ready to sit back and relax because she has twenty-plus years of stories to tell and retell. And don’t talk about her from the next room because her hearing is still good enough to hear a cotton ball touching a piece of felt.
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