Barbara May (Sifton) Fitzsimmons was born June 5, 1932 to Forest and Luella Sifton in Emmett, Idaho. She passed away in Lewiston, Idaho on July 10, 2020 from complications of Ahlzheimers disease.
Barb grew up on a farm in the Crane Creek area east of Weiser and Midvale, Idaho. Her sister, Luella Ann was three years older than her. The Crane Creek farm was remote so they stayed in their home in Weiser during the school year while her Dad stayed on the ranch.
Barbara graduated from Weiser High School in 1950. Summers were spent at the ranch raising hay, grain, and livestock. She had many fond memories of her childhood.
Barbara attended the University of Idaho in Moscow.
In 1952 she married Norm Fitzsimmons. Upon his graduation he was committed to the Air Force Reserves and they moved to Washington D.C. where she was employed by the National Security Agency.
In 1954 they returned to Idaho and Barb continued her education seeking a degree in Elementary Education. In 1955 Norm accepted a position with the University of Idaho Extension Service in Nez Perce County and they moved to Lewiston.
In 1959 they moved to Orofino, where Norm was the County Extension Agent and she began teaching at the Orofino Elementary School. Over the years she taught second, third and fourth grades. She continued classes and earned a Master’s Degree in Education.
As a dedicated teacher, she was an advocate of the Fox Fire teaching method, a unique way of involving students in the history of their family and community, where they learned speaking, writing, and preparing presentations and reports. She loved and enjoyed all of her students. Her interest in history led her to research and prepare an extensive manuscript on the history of rural schools in Clearwater County.
In 1955 her daughter, Susan, was born and her son, David, was born in 1958. In 1969 the family moved to a ranch in the Wells Bench community. There they could continue in their careers but also enjoy the life they were raised in and could give their children the experiences and values of rural life.
Barbara was a member of Beta Sigma Phi Sorority and was instrumental in organizing a chapter in Orofino, which grew to four chapters in Clearwater County. She also belonged to the Orofino Dance Club, Fine Gold Campers, the Orofino Community Choir, P.E.O. and Rotary Club.
She had an intense interest in antiques and books, especially old children’s books and collected many. Besides teaching she was also an artist and did art in 32 different mediums such as oils, acrylics, pen and ink, tatting, dolls, spinning, dying wool with plants, weaving, drawing, fabric, yarn, and many more. She included her art into her classroom teaching.
Barbara never minded doing things by herself. If she wanted to ice skate she would go out to the pond and do it. Take a class she would do it. Walk to the back 40 acres, she would do it. She was strong and gentle.
She is survived by her husband, Norman, of 68 years, and her daughter, Susan Howland from Carson City, NV. She has eight grandchildren and 16 great grandchildren.
She is preceded in death by her parents, Forest and Luella Sifton, her sister, Luella Ann, and her son, David.
Pine Hills Funeral Chapel and Crematory in Orofino is in charge of the arrangements. Cremation has taken place and a memorial service is planned at a later date when the national health crisis has stabilized.