Barbara McKean passed away March 19, 2013, in Salt Lake City from complications of diabetes. She was 81. Internment will be at a future date in Armstrong Grove Cemetery, Emmet County, Iowa.
She was born Barbara Jean Jones on August 14, 1931, in Iowa City, the fourth of six children of Wesley Jones and Bonnie Wolford. Barbara's classic American childhood on the family farm in Gruver, Iowa, included pumping her own well water, attending the Bolstead School one-room schoolhouse, riding horses, and helping out with farming and domestic chores. In her teens and twenties, she roller skated and danced to the classic swing bands at the Roof Garden ballroom on the shores of Lake Okoboji. She graduated from Maple Hill High School in 1948, attended Hamilton Business College in Mason City, and subsequently worked in various clerical and office managerial positions throughout her life while raising a family. She retired from her work as an executive secretary at the University of Utah's College of Nursing in 1996.
She married Lowell McKean on June 10, 1951. The couple lived in New Orleans for the next two years while Lowell was stationed there during the Korean War. The family farmed near Armstrong from 1953 to 1959; Lowell's work in agriculture in the public and private sectors later led them to settle in Omaha, Neb., and various towns in Iowa over the next 30 years. Barbara and Lowell moved to Salt Lake in 1986 when he began work at the USDA's statistics bureau. Despite these relocations, they considered Estherville and Armstrong home and returned often to visit family.
Barbara was preceded in death by her parents, husband Lowell, sisters Regina, Virginia, Carol and Betty. She is survived by her brother Ken Jones, five children, and many grandchildren, nieces and nephews. Ever social, she was quick with a laugh and always enjoyed getting other people's "life stories." She was an active member of the Presbyterian Church and the women's philanthropic organization PEO. Barbara instilled a love of learning and the arts in her children. She was a big supporter of their activities, attending countless music recitals and art openings through the years, which contributed to their later success in those fields.
At the end, Barbara chose to return to her roots. One of her last requests was "I need my saddle." Brother Ken subsequently observed she must have been planning to travel far, as she had always ridden bareback. Happy Trails, Barbara.