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Barbara Hodel

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Barbara Beecher Stockman was born September 19, 1935, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, raised in Evanston, Illinois, until half way through high school, and completed high school in Salisbury, Maryland. She was a scholarship student at WellesleyCollege in Wellesley, Massachusetts, married Donald P. Hodel, a student at Harvard, in 1956. After his graduation they moved to Eugene, Oregon, while he attended the University of Oregon, School of Law. The Hodels had two sons, Philip and David. At age 17 Philip committed suicide, a tragedy that brought Barbara and Don to a born again belief in Jesus Christ. Barbara always said that her goal in life was to be a good wife and she succeeded beyond all reasonable expectations. She devoted herself to making her home a happy and safe haven for Don whose various jobs involved significant pressure and long hours as a young lawyer, Administrator of the Bonneville Power Administration, Under Secretary and later, Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, and U.S. Secretary of Energy during the Reagan Administration. She accompanied him to numerous official and social functions, many of his meetings, served on the committee which scheduled his events, and traveled with her husband on almost all his trips, including internationally. She was a distinguished woman in her own right and an asset to him in all ways. Staff and friends referred to them as "Team Hodel," which captured the closeness and devotion which they exhibited toward each other and the manner in which she conducted herself. Throughout their 56 years of marriage she willingly avoided commitments or social engagements for herself in order always to be available to accompany him. Don acknowledges that he could not have achieved a fraction of what he did without her constant support and wisdom and love. In later years he served as President of Christian Coalition, Chesapeake, Virginia, and subsequently as President of Focus on the Family, Colorado Springs. In both those positions he and Barbara were full-time volunteers, and Barbara shared his office and spent each day participating in his activities. In 1989, she and her husband moved to Silverthorne, Colorado, where they resided for the next 18 years founding the Summit Group companies, currently, Summit Power Group, LLC. Recreationally, Barbara became an accomplished downhill skier and engaged in hiking, biking and golf—all activities which she shared with her husband. She became a member of the Board of Trustees of Patrick Henry College in 1999 shortly after its founding and served in that capacity until her tragic fall down the stairs of her home in Summit County, Colorado, in August, 2007. She was paralyzed from the neck down. The Board of Trustees of Patrick Henry College voted unanimously to name the new Student Life Center at the College, "The Barbara Hodel Center," in her honor, illustrating a major tenet of the College, that is, that a woman who chooses to be a wife and mother has as fully an honorable profession as one who chooses a public career outside the home and may contribute to her society at least as significantly. In this case Don fully acknowledges that Barbara's decision to be a full-time helpmate was instrumental in the contributions that he was destined to make to both public and charitable institutions. In 2007, Barbara fell down the stairs of their home in Silverthorne. After six months of hospitalization and rehabilitation at CraigHospital, she and Don moved to Lakewood, Colorado. She had achieved some ability to breathe on her own, but as time went on she increasingly required oxygen supplement and a ventilator. She was cared for by her husband and a team of excellent and loving nurses who succeeded in surmounting a number of health crises during the five years following her fall. On October 6, 2012, while in the hospital for treatment of an infection, Barbara stopped breathing and, although she was resuscitated after great difficulty, she remained in a coma until she died on October 11, 2012. She endeared herself to all who came into contact with her. She was a remarkably serene person, manifesting warmth and friendship to all who knew her. A small testimony to that was the visits on their own time to her bedside in the hospital by all of her nursing and therapy staff. Five of her private duty nurses were at her bedside with her husband and sister when she died. She is survived by her husband; her son David and Tanya, his wife; her three grandsons; and her sister Deborah Herbert, of Ann Arbor, Michigan. A Memorial service will be held at Beth Eden Baptist Church, 2600 Wadsworth Boulevard, Wheat Ridge, CO 80333, Lakewood, CO, on Saturday, October 27, at 1:00 PM. The family suggests gifts in lieu of flowers "In memory of Barbara Hodel" to the Patrick Henry College Scholarship Fund, Ten Patrick Henry Circle, Purcellville, VA, 20132-3198. 2600 Wadsworth Boulevard, Wheat Ridge, CO 80033.
Published in from Oct. 26 to Oct. 27, 2012