Hannibal High School Alumni

Hannibal, Missouri (MO)

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Barbara Jean Lehnbauer-Fibelkorn Class of 1961

Barbara Jean Lehenbauer-Fibelkorn

It is with sadness that I report the passing of Barbara Jean Lehenbauer-Fibelkorn (Class of 61). Barbara passed away due to a rapidly spreading cancer on October 7, 2011 in Houston, Texas.

Born Barbara Jean Lehenbauer, the daughter of a Army Airforce navigator and later Lutheran minister, she grew up in Hannibal Missouri and attended nursing school in Concordia, Missouri. It is there that she met and married my father John Fibelkorn who was attending seminary at Concordia Lutheran Seminary.

They took their first parish in Rolla, Missouri, and built the church membership and building that still stands today. Five years later with a calling to help under privileged people, the moved to an inner-city church in Newark, New Jersey where Dad would hold sermons in English and Spanish and perform outreach ministry to the ghetto. I remember many Pre-Christmas days passing out toys, coats, shoes and other needs to children and family’s that had nothing in the early 70’s, and many summers of taking bus loads of inner-city children to country parks, ocean adventures, and summer camps. My mother organized the trips and events, ran the women’s bible studies, and taught Sunday School, all while raising 5 children, dealing with the death of a younger brother, and being an environment as foreign to a Missouri girl as anyone could have though possible.

In 1976 the felt called to Dallas Texas to perform similar church operations for another inner-city church, and Barbara helped to form and build the women’s AGLOW in the Dallas area, serving in several roles including chapter president.

In 1982, however, the calling came for mission work in Sri Lanka ‎(former Ceylon)‎ off the coast of India. The family was split up, with my older brother of 18 staying in Dallas, while my under brother Paul and I were sent to a boarding school in Kodaikonal, Tamil Nadu, India, and my two youngest sisters stayed with Mom and Dad in Columbo, Sri Lanka. Dad started the Lutheran church, ministering in Tamil and Singhalese languages, while Mom started a shelter for women. The separation of our family broke my mother’s heart, but she continued to pour out her love and energy to help women and save baby girls in a country where women were considered to be inferior to man, and baby daughters to be a burden on the family, often being killed at birth.

They continued their mission work for 12 years before returning to the states. Since then my father has held two congregations and continues through his retirement in helping churches without pastors until their vacancies are filled. At each location, including their current home in Houston, Texas, Barbara continued her calling working with pregnant girls to save lives of children who would otherwise have been aborted.

Barbara never worked one day in her life for money. From volunteer nursing, to pastors wife, to councilor she did everything for free to the glory of God.

In the spring of 2011 Barbara was diagnosed with Cervical cancer and a tumor the size of a softball. Radiation and Chemo helped reduce the tumor, but it was later found that she had grown pariteniel cancer.

Barbara made her decision to follow the doctors recommendation and go through the chemotherapy and completed the first round on September 22, 2011. The following Tuesday she was rushed to the emergency room with severe dehydration. Unfortunately the chemotherapy has had a devastating effect and her body has just started shutting down. The cancer fully spread to all organs in the peritoneal cavity, and then her lungs. She had lost her ability to walk and stand, and had difficulty breathing. On Monday, October 3, 2011 she was told there was no hope remaining and that hospice should be considered. Barbara had be very alert and participative in all decisions, but was aware things are declining fast.

I have been blessed to spend so much time with Mom over the past weeks, both before the chemotherapy and after. I can honestly say that I have grown to know my mother as a best friend first, and secondly as a mother. We have shared hardships, ailments, and blessings together over the past 12 years that can never be replaced… and those memories will never fade from my heart. I got to see a side of my family that I had never seen in my life. My fathers compassion; my brothers strength and love; and my sisters wisdom and giving nature.

When Mom was told Monday I saw her eyes dim. When her chemotherapy doctor recommended that the treatments stop and that Mom would more than likely not make it to the next treatment, I saw a sense of sadness in her face. When the social worker came in to tell her that it was time for hospice and that it would be a matter of days, I saw hurt like I could not have imagined. She truly believes that there is still so much to f

posted October 21st, 2011

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