Barbara Ann (Clark) Blickhan was born on May 27, 1942, at St. Vincent’s Hospital. She was adopted as an infant by William and Margaret Clark through St. Anthony’s Home for Infants in Kansas City, MO. While adoption records were closed at that time, it was known that her birth mother was from New York and there is speculation that she could have come to Kansas City via an orphan train. Barbara was an only child and had no cousins, and as such, she was adored in her small family by her parents, her grandmother, and her beloved Aunt Flo and Uncle Herman, and was the center of their lives.
She attended St. Louis grade school and grew up in St. Louis Parish in Kansas City. She was an accomplished pianist and dancer and spent countless hours practicing, competing, and performing. Barbara went to Hogan High School where she was involved in multiple activities and known for her long, dark ponytail. She was well-liked in high school, was a cheerleader, and was in the homecoming court her senior year. At Hogan, Barbara met and dated Bob Blickhan, and they were married in 1963. In high school, Barbara worked as a waitress downtown at W. T. Grant’s and told of riding the streetcar to work and then riding it back late at night and walking home the rest of the way with no concern about safety. The skills learned at Grant’s were put to good use when she served meals to her family with plates deftly lined up her arm and carried to the table. Barbara went on to The College of St.Teresa, which later became Avila University and was president of her class. She had a keen mind and loved the sciences, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry. After graduation, she worked as a lab tech at St. Joseph Hospital until she started having children. Barbara raised four children and was involved in many school and church activities at St. Elizabeth's including PTA, Girl Scouts, and coaching volleyball. She was also a board member at the Catholic Family Credit Union. Barbara was a stay-at-home mom while the kids were young and later worked in the family data processing business when they got older. She finished her career as a bookkeeper at St. Thomas More Church, retiring in 2016. Barbara was known for her perfect hair (done every week at the beauty shop!), which she kept perfect by sleeping on her hands every night so as not to mess it up. That did not lend itself to quality sleep but her hair was indeed always perfect. She was a natural beauty and never wore makeup – except for her ever-present lipstick! She took great care in her appearance and was always dressed and accessorized perfectly. She loved being in the sun and spent many hours working on her suntan in the backyard. She was naturally athletic and was active in a bowling league for many years, played tennis, and enjoyed her early morning aerobics class for many years. She participated in two bridge clubs, one that was started in high school, until her illness made it impossible for her to participate. She enjoyed performances of any kind, particularly at The New Theater. She loved going to the lake, especially her annual summer trip to the Lake of the Ozarks with the Ladies of the Lake. She loved to travel and was always ready to go anywhere and do anything. She loved the ocean and would spend hours collecting sea shells on trips to the sea. She loved reading, playing cards, and she was an accomplished cook. She loved all animals, but she had a special place in her heart for dogs, especially Candy, Tiffany, Hailey, Holly, Sable, and Mandy, and all of her grand-dogs. Barbara also never met a sweet treat she didn’t like! She loved to follow the weather and had she been born in a different time, she would likely have enjoyed being a meteorologist or a storm chaser. She loved the outdoors and being in nature. When it was nice out, that’s where you would find her, in the backyard, sitting on the patio, soaking up the sun, or “reading a book” (which looked an awful lot like taking a nap). Barbara was happiest when she was doing anything with her family and friends. She maintained close friendships with grade school and high school friends throughout her life who continued to visit her even when she was lost in the world of Alzheimer’s disease. Barbara was a good sport, generally agreeable and easy to be around. It was not an uncommon thing for her kids to hear people say “I just love your mom”.
She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in January 2018, and she endeared herself to multiple staff and residents at Addington Place where she lived for the last two years. Alzheimer’s is a cruel disease that robs a person of everything they know and who they are, and that was true for Barbara as well. We would occasionally get some glimpses of her old self for which we are grateful. We hope and pray that there will one day soon be significant progress in the prevention and treatment of this terrible disease.
Barbara is survived by her four children, who have all remained close throughout their adulthood: David Blickhan, Mary Chris Blickhan and wife Tami Greenberg, Sandy Gleason, and Amy Blickhan; Karen Strauss; her eight grandchildren: Danny, Ryan, Andrew, and Kelly Blickhan, Gretchen and Nicholas Gleason, and Ben and Alex Blickhan; and great grandson Liam Blickhan. She is also survived by her 97 year old aunt Forestine Wayland (Aunt Flo!), sisters-in-law Janice Orrick and Kathy Dwyer.
Barbara’s family would like to thank the staff of Addington Place for the loving care they provided to her, including Margaret, Emily, Dimple, Julie, Susan, and Dawn, the Ladies of the Lake, her many loyal friends who sent cards, called her and faithfully visited her throughout her illness. Especially Mary Ominksi and Thelma Greenberg. We are forever grateful.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association or Wayside Waifs.