Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Barbara Elizabeth Fleming

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Barbara Elizabeth Fleming went to heaven on Feb. 23, 2024, surrounded by family in Anchorage.

She was born in Ewen, Michigan, on Oct. 17, 1933, to Alex "Tanglefoot" and Martha Tyyska. She was the daughter of Finnish immigrants and stayed true to her heritage. She possessed incredible sisu, the Finnish art of inner strength. She didn't speak English until she started school, where she was forbidden to speak Finnish. Her dream was to become a nurse, but she was in a car accident right before she was to enter nursing school and her injuries prevented that from happening.

She married her high school sweetheart, Jim Fleming, and they were blessed with five daughters, Jody, (Pease), Jennifer (Hromadka), Jamie (Berge), Jonnie (Ackiss) and Janelle (Sweeney).

At the age of 35, Jim was tragically killed in a multiple-fatality car crash while carpooling home from the White Pine Copper mine, leaving her with the five of us, ages 11 months to 15 years old, to raise on her own. She never remarried. Two years later, her father died, and she took in her mother, Grandma T, to live with us in "the house that Jim built."

We were blessed to grow up in Ewen where the power of community support played a critical part in our upbringing. It truly did take a village. She and her sister-in-law and dear friend, Dorothy Miesbauer (Aunty D), were publishers of The Ottawa Shopper, an area-wide shoppers guide that kept Ewen and surrounding communities up to date on grocery and retail sales, community events, local For Sale items, wedding announcements, and more. When Dorothy retired, she continued on her own until she retired at the age of 67.

She lived a life of service and was a faithful member of First Lutheran Church in Ewen. She served in roles as organist, choir director, council member, Sunday School teacher, and anything else that was needed for her church family. She also served many years on the board of the Ewen Civic Association, from the Load of Logs to the fundraising for the Centennial Hall and centennial celebration, and of course, the annual Log Jamboree. She was the biggest fan at all our sporting events, both home and away.

When Grandma T's health required more critical care, she drove to visit her in Wakefield (a 70-mile round-trip) daily, for more than two years.

Four of us girls settled in Alaska, so after retiring, she moved to Fairbanks to be closer to us and her grandkids. In Fairbanks, she was an active member of Fairbanks Lutheran Church and her Bridge club. While there, she joined the PEO (Philanthropic Educational Organization) Sisterhood which provides educational opportunities for female students worldwide. She loved being a PEO sister. She lived with Jennifer and Gypsy for 12 years, until they retired and moved south. Jamie, Janelle and their families built a three-generation home in Anchorage for her to move into with them. She was a well-loved member of Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church and her PEO Chapter in Anchorage.

She enjoyed playing the piano, especially for family singalongs, of which there were many, any and all card games and board games, puzzling, reading, and watching her grandchildren grow. She lived a life filled with grace, kindness, caring and love. She was so proud to reach the 90-year-old milestone last year.

She was preceded in death by her husband; her parents; her siblings, Norma, Jim and Diane; and son-in-law, Michael Pease. Those left to cherish her memories are her five daughters; sons-in-law, Gypsy, Berge, Bill and Mike; special "daughters," Debbie, Tara and Sue; grandchildren, Shawn Earl, Maxwell Pease, Emily Organ and Quinn Sweeney; great-grandchildren, Charlotte Earl and Mikah Pease; some very special cousins; and many nieces and nephews who loved their Aunty Barb.

We are grateful for so many of you who touched her life and ours on her journey - the Ewen-Trout Creek community, Fairbanks family and friends, especially her dear friend, Flora, Anchorage family and friends, her amazing PEO sisters, and all of those who helped us through her health struggles in the last two years, especially her church family, PEO sisters Bruce, Cindy and Janet, Pastor Dan and Jan, and Saundra and Harry. It means the world to be uplifted in prayer and surrounded by all your love.

Contributions in mom's memory may be made to First Lutheran Church in Ewen or the E-TC Booster Club. Mom wanted services at her beloved First Lutheran Church in Ewen, so we will plan something for the spring so we can all celebrate the life of this beautiful woman. As she always signed her cards, "God Bless."

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