Barbara Reusch

Memorial Service

2:00 pm
Saturday, May 20, 2023
Point Pleasant Presbyterian Church
701 Forman Avenue
Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey, United States

Obituary of Barbara A. Reusch

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Barbara was the first-born daughter of Samuel and Lillian Montgomery. She was born in Darby, Pennsylvania on March 3, 1943. When she turned three, Barbara and her family moved to Island Heights, NJ. Her sister Linda was born the following year in 1947. Barbara attended Island Heights Elementary School and Central Regional High School, where she was involved in vocal music, student government, and athletics. Barbara studied piano and organ with Elsie Madsen Fischer and was the accompanist to the school’s choirs and would later serve as the organist and choir director of the Island Heights Methodist Church. Barbara graduated Valedictorian of her class. While at Central Regional, Barbara discovered her love of Spanish, which became her major, along with education, at Allegheny College in Meadville, PA. She spent a semester abroad at the University of Mexico and did her student teaching in the Cleveland, Ohio School System. She graduated from Allegheny with honors. In the summer of 1963, Barbara met Franklin Reusch on a blind date. He was temporarily stationed at Fort Dix after being newly commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Army. From that first date, the relationship flourished and Barb and Frank were engaged in December of that year. The following December, they were married in Island Heights, NJ. Frank was sent to Germany in March 1965 and Barb followed in late spring. They lived in Kaiserslautern, Germany and were blessed with the birth of their daughter Heather in 1966. In 1967, Frank received orders for Vietnam, where he served from October 1967 through October 1968. During that time, Barb and Heather lived in an apartment in Toms River. Although Barb and Frank were separated by thousands of miles, their love inspired daily letters between the two of them for their year apart. Nine months after Frank had returned from Vietnam, they were once again blessed when Barb gave birth to their son Sean. From 1970-1975, Frank taught at Toms River High School North, Ocean County College, and earned his Psychology certification at night at Kean College. Barb kept the home fires burning and was doing the lion’s share of child rearing. In 1975 she began working at St. Joseph’s High School, where she shared her love of Spanish with students in grades 9-12. Barb taught there for 10 years and during that time she attended Georgian Court College where she earned her master’s degree as a reading specialist. Barb would later return to Georgian Court as an adjunct professor. Barb transitioned into the Toms River Public Schools in 1985, when she began her work as a reading specialist in Toms River Intermediate West. Many of her students were from families that had recently immigrated from Central America and who had limited proficiency in English. Barb’s previous experience as a world language teacher helped her to understand some of the struggles of these students, many for whom Spanish was not the primary language. She understood that in addition to linguistic struggles, many of her students came from families who struggled financially and who didn’t have the same advantages as other students at school. Barb wanted to give her students learning experiences that would give them social capital and allow them more social mobility. She created the Wheel of Facts with her colleague and her students learned history, art, literature, and music, in addition to becoming better readers. In June 2003, Barb retired from public school teaching, knowing that she would soon become a grandma. Heather gave birth to Katie, Barb and Frank’s first granddaughter that December. Sean’s son Miles followed in March 2008 and his daughter Ruby in April 2011. Barb was a doting grandma who loved sending care packages, cards, and special notes to her grandchildren, talking to them on the phone or through Facetime or, best of all, spending face-to-face time with them. She loved baking with Katie and reading her creative writing, and she reveled in the musical accomplishments of Miles and Ruby, attending piano and violin concerts virtually. Barb also enjoyed being an aunt to her nieces Laura, Amy, and Beth, and to her grand-niece Hannah and grand-nephew Rashawn. The news of each milestone and accomplishment always brought her a great deal of joy! Barbara’s adult life was a continuing ministry that manifested itself in many different places and ways. In the beginning of their marriage, Barb and Frank worked together in the Methodist Church doing mission work in Frakes, Kentucky for two consecutive summers. Eventually, Barb became an active member of the Presbyterian Church of Toms River, where she served as an Elder, a Deacon, and a member of the Pastor Nominating Committee. Barb and Frank’s was a mixed marriage–while she was an active member of the Presbyterian Church, he was/is a Quaker, and yet despite these differences, they worked as a cohesive team in a ministry of social justice, both living their belief that it is imperative to help the disenfranchised, the poor, the oppressed, and the forgotten or invisible. They worked in the ecumenical AIDS ministry of Ocean County, offering dinners to patients with AIDS and to their friends and families, and serving in an outreach program with individual AIDS patients. When the Interfaith Hospitality Network of Northern Ocean County began, Barb and Frank became active members in its ecumenical ministry for homeless families. During the past 20 plus years, they helped cook meals for participating families, set up sleeping accommodations, clean facilities, share meals, and provide financial support. Barb’s journey of faith led her to Point Pleasant Presbyterian Church, where she quickly became involved in serving as Clerk of Session, participating in the Lydia Circle, attending book clubs and Bible studies, helping with Vacation Bible School, and promoting church involvement in support of refugees through Interfaith Rise. Barb was a lifelong learner, as well as an educator. Her passion for learning and teaching led her to become a member of the Ocean County Historical Society. Once she retired, Barb served on the OCHS Board of Directors, was the editor of the society’s newsletter, The Scroll, and was a frequent contributor of articles about the history of Ocean County. She and Frank were in charge of the Society’s gardens surrounding the museum and she loved creating the summer planters (far more than she enjoyed weeding). Throughout her life, Barbara turned to baking as an expression of love. It was another one of her ministries. She loved to feed those around her–with kindness, compassion, and … cookies. Oatmeal chocolate chip, shortbread, ginger snaps, you name it. Barb kept King Arthur in business. And let’s not forget her pies…apple, pumpkin, cherry, pear, chocolate chip, mince meat. Barb baked for church. Barb baked for the Historical Society. Barb baked for birthdays, holidays, and just because she loved you. Food brings people together in fellowship and that is what Barb chose as her life’s mission–creating communities filled with love. In August 2022, Barb was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. She and Frank headed to University of Pennsylvania Hospital and were told that it is a slow growing cancer and that she would need a two-part surgery to remove her thyroid and the surrounding lymph tissue in her throat. Once she healed from her surgery, she would be treated with radioactive iodine, which would kill free-floating cancer cells. Her surgeon thought she would have a good five years of life after the surgery. Her first surgery was the day before Thanksgiving. It was very successful and she was scheduled for her second surgery towards the end of January. On January 4th, after having a great follow-up appointment with the doctors at Penn, Barb suffered a seizure. She was rushed to the hospital and was later diagnosed with glioblastoma, the most aggressive kind of brain cancer, and a cancer which is terminal. She had brain surgery in January and was in the hospital for about a week before she was transferred to rehab for physical, occupational, and speech therapy for two weeks. She made it home and then began a 6-week treatment of chemotherapy and radiation. Sadly, she had a massive seizure and had to be hospitalized four weeks into her treatment. She was in the hospital for about a week and a half and then put on hospice. Barbara died early in the morning of April 11th with her beloved husband of 58 years by her side. Barbara is survived by husband Franklin Reusch, daughter Heather Reusch, son Sean Reusch and his wife Bridget Dolkas, grandchildren Katie Fallon-Reusch, Miles Reusch, and Ruby Reusch, niece Laura Thompson and her partner Chris Ammann, niece Amy Thompson, grand-niece Hannah Ammann, and grand-nephew Rashawn Walker. Those wishing to celebrate Barbara’s life may attend her memorial service at the Point Pleasant Presbyterian Church, 701 Forman Avenue, Point Pleasant Beach, NJ on Saturday, May 20, at 2:00 PM. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Interfaith Family Services, 407 Lexington Avenue, Toms River, NJ 08753.
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