Barb Stuart, beloved wife, mother, daughter, teacher, mentor, friend, sister, and aunt, passed away from natural causes on November 18, 2021. No amount of time could have ever been enough, but she tried to make her time count through celebration of big and small events, travel, love of her family, teaching, reading, generosity, made-up words, and laughter. As a result, she lived a life full of variety and contribution to others. For example, Barb’s love for animals meant that she would always catch stray dogs to protect them while calling their owner, even taking a dog hit by a car to the nearest vet hospital and paying for the medical care. She rescued dogs in Kosovo and adopted cats in Denver, picking out the least likely to be adopted for rescue. She made sure all old dogs knew they were good dogs. In her later years she took up gardening and golf, and was very proud of her hole-in-one at Broken Tee Golf in Englewood. She spent time everyday marveling at the new growth in the plants she was nurturing.
She was born in Munich, Germany, to Bennie and Victoria Emanuel and attended schools in France, Germany, and Virginia as her father’s US Air Force career took her and her sister around the world. She attended high school in Bitburg, Germany, before relocating to Aurora, Colorado and graduating from Aurora Central High School. She received her BA and Master’s degrees in planning and community development from the University of Colorado at Denver. She spent the first half of her professional career in health care management, including time at Swedish Hospital, as a planner for the Colorado Department of Public Health, and as the corporate health planner for St. Anthony Hospital System. As part of that work, she planned and supervised development of the Tower building at the Gardens at St. Elizabeth senior living center, and then served as its Chief Operating Officer. She continued her work in senior housing and was the Chief Operating Officer of Francis Heights and Clare Gardens senior and low-income housing as part of the Franciscan Ministries. She stayed in touch with many of the sisters, and loved that she got to take them to “el Diablo,” a Mexican restaurant in Denver.
She also worked for the Colorado Department of Human Resources as a workforce development strategist. She served for several years on the Colorado Council for Restorative Justice.
Throughout her life, food was her love language. She loved to cook and loved trying new recipes with different techniques and different spices. She wanted to try all kinds of food, and to make sure that everyone had plenty to eat. She would arrive at restaurants early to order all the appetizers so that food would be ready for everyone when they arrived, and they might be able to try something new that they wouldn’t have ordered themselves. She loved finding interesting cheeses, crackers, and deli meats for family gatherings, and would make sure you had a cold Fresca to drink on the way to or from the airport. She would go to her favorite bakery or deli and bring an extra pastry, sandwich, or fruit tart to make someone smile. Her love of food may have inspired her son’s work in sushi restaurants, her daughter’s travel to Morocco, and her family’s exploration of restaurants in the greater Littleton area.
Her greatest professional enjoyment came from teaching. For many years while working other jobs, she would teach evening and weekend classes at Webster University, Chapman University, the University of Denver, and Metropolitan State College in Denver. In 1998 she was awarded a Fulbright scholarship grant to teach at Kazan State University in Kazan, Russia, where, in addition to teaching students, she would wake up her daughter in the early morning by singing ‘Agony’, from Into the Woods and bringing cold pineapple juice in case her daughter was thirsty (she was).
Travelling to and teaching in Russia enhanced her love of travel and her dedication to working in other parts of the world. She spent significant time over a period of 3 years in Vietnam, some of those with her son, teaching senior government officials management tools and health planning in both the north and south ends of the country. In 2002 she accepted a position as Chief of Mission for an international development project in Kosovo, which turned into conflict resolution work between ethnic Albanian Muslims and Serbian Kosovars. That was followed by a year as Chief of Party for a conflict prevention project in Tajikistan, and a year of training earthquake relief workers in Pakistan. She performed consulting work and seminar presentations in, among many other countries, Cuba, Finland, Georgia, Ireland, Israel, and Trinidad and Tobago. She wanted to be reminded of these trips and the many good friends she had made, and would find vibrant and unusual art pieces to bring home. If asked, she would proudly tell you that she had visited sixty different countries.
For the last ten years before her retirement, she was an associate professor in the Management Department of the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver. While working there, she was known for a fully participatory style of teaching that placed student learning first. All students had a voice in her classrooms, and they repeatedly gave her the highest evaluations. She stayed in touch with many of her students for years after their graduation. She was awarded the Daniels’ Inclusive Excellence Award, and was proud of being invited by the team to DU hockey games. Her love of travel continued, and she taught DU inter-term classes in Indonesia, St. Kitts and Nevis (in honor of Hamilton), and Alaska (to learn about sustainability and the Iditarod).
She loved helping people feel celebrated. She would make thoughtful baskets for Valentine’s Day to make sure everyone felt loved. Valentine’s day was her favorite holiday because it allowed you to celebrate love and it was also her mom’s birthday. She would celebrate just being together for small moments by surprising you with a special snack or little trinkets because she thought someone would like them. She would send dog videos or news stories that made her think of you, and she was often thinking of you.
Through all of that, she has said that being a mom was the greatest thing to happen to her, and she made sure her family knew how much she loved them. She is survived by her husband of 43 years, Ken Stuart; her son, Doug and his partner, Mariah Hill; her daughter, Alexandra (Lexey) and her husband, Lenny Maiorani; and Vito the cat, all of whom will cherish having been Barb’s snooter-paddle-wheedle-beetles.
Contributions may be made in her memory to the Colorado Cat Rescue Society at www.catcaresociety.org/get-involved/ or to the Denver Dumb Friends League at www.ddfl.org, and in giving scritches to your furry friends and hugs to your loved ones.
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