Barbara Swanson

Born: Sun., Sep. 15, 1940
Died: Sat., Jun. 23, 2012

- Service details not available -

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Barbara Storma "Stormee" Swanson (née Amling), of Gresham, Oregon, went to be with her Lord and Savior on June 23, 2012 at age 71 after a brave battle against cancer. Barbara was born on September 15, 1940 to John W. and Beatrice L. Amling in Los Angeles, California. She had two younger brothers, John and Raymond. The family was in the floral business and moved to Portland when Barbara was a young girl. Barbara graduated from Franklin High School in 1958. She attended Willamette University briefly then transferred to Washington State University, where she received a degree in education and met her future husband, John Robert "Bob" Swanson. The couple married in August 1962, soon after Barbara's graduation.
Teaching jobs were scarce for a new graduate in the academic town of Pullman, Washington, so Barbara took a job in the Physiology Department at WSU as a secretary. When the next school year rolled around, she was able to secure a teaching position with Pullman Public Schools where she taught for two years. During the summer of 1965, the couple left Pullman and moved to Durham, North Carolina where Bob pursued a post-graduate education at Duke University. In March of 1966, they had their first child, a daughter named Anne-Marie. Barbara continued to be supportive of her husband's post-graduate endeavors as they moved the family to Philadelphia where Bob pursued an additional post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania. A son, Andrew John, followed soon after in January of 1968. Barbara gave birth to their third child, Michael Amling, in June 1969. Three weeks later, Barbara made the cross-country journey with her newborn and two toddlers back to the Portland area where her husband had taken a faculty position at what was then University of Oregon Medical School (now known as Oregon Health & Science University). In 1969, the family purchased a home in Beaverton.
With a passion for education, and her children on the verge of school age, Barbara spearheaded efforts to persuade the state to fund public kindergarten for Oregon's children. Barbara continued to be involved in social and political causes, and worked to elect leaders such as Nancy Ryles to the Oregon legislature. She completed a M. Ed. at Portland State University in the 70's. In 1979, the couple divorced and Barbara began a new phase of her life as a single mom to her three children, in whom she instilled a strong work ethic and sense of self-worth. She continued to reside in the Beaverton home until 1988, allowing all three of the kids to spend their childhood and teen years in this home.
Barbara established a business, the Centering Foundation, and taught numerous professional development workshops through Portland State University and Portland Community College. She creatively developed courses to include fun with learning, such as holding classes during rafting trips along the Deschutes River or at Carson Hot Springs. Some courses were Left Brain/Right Brain Thinking, T.E.T. (Teacher Effectiveness Training), and P.E.T. (Parent Effectiveness Training). Concurrently, she trained as a counselor and began her own private practice.
Throughout her life, Barbara pursued spirituality in many forms, including immersing herself in New Age philosophies, as she searched for meaning in her spiritual life. However, in the early 1980's, Barbara was drawn to a fast-growing neighborhood church, Beaverton Foursquare, where she became a born-again, spirit- filled Christian bringing her back to her childhood foothold when Sunday School at her family's Lutheran church was her favorite part of the week. As her relationship with the Lord continued to grow and her faith deepened, she developed a strong intercessory prayer life, as well as an active ministry to immigrants and the poor, which she pursued for the rest of her life.
Once the children left for college, beginning in 1988, Barbara was on the move, pursuing her own learning and advocating for underprivileged and needy families. She spent time in Costa Rica and Guatemala, learning Spanish in order to better work with English Language Learners. She also became more deeply involved in ministering to others and nurturing her own spiritual life. In the early '90s, Barbara moved back to her birthplace, Los Angeles, to do mission work with in the inner city poor. She returned to Oregon in 1994, and applied herself to teaching ELL in the Portland Public & Reynolds School Districts. During summers, she organized groups of teachers to attend Escuela Entegrada, an intensive Spanish language program in Antigua, Guatemala. Through her work in the classroom, Barbara identified a little-known Mexican minority group, the Purepetcha, who required a unique approach to English Language Learning. In order to address the needs of this disadvantaged group of people, she found funding, travelled to, and developed ties to their indigenous communities in Mexico.
Barbara had other talents and interests, as well, including writing. In 1993, she co-wrote a cookbook, Tortillas! with her cousin, Pat Sparks of Tustin, CA. The book was published by St. Martin's Press.
After retirement from the Reynolds School District in 2005, she continued her service to others. She spearheaded a ministry program to immigrants through City Bible Church, in which volunteers learned to tutor adult English Language Learners in the community. Barbara began buying rental properties and was the beloved landlord for five families at the time of her death. From time to time, she paid her tenants' utility bills when their paychecks did not arrive in time. She faithfully delivered free dishwasher detergent each month to tenants who paid their rent in a timely manner.
Barbara will be remembered as a high-energy, creative and purpose-driven woman. While she was strong and independent, she also had a light-hearted, whimsical side. She was relentlessly positive and cheerful, and gave encouragement to everyone she met.
She enjoyed spending time with her children and grandchildren, camping and hiking on the McKenzie River and on Mt. Hood. Every Christmas, she hosted a day of cookie baking and crafts for her grandchildren. For several years, she spent every Saturday evening enjoying 'dinner and a movie' with her aging father; when she was forced to discontinue this tradition in February 2012 due to her illness, it broke her heart.
A celebration of Barbara's life will be held at Sunnyside Foursquare Church in Happy Valley on Thursday, July 12th at 11:00. A slideshow will begin at 10:30. A luncheon at the church will follow the service. A burial service will follow at Sunnyside Chapel of the Chimes. Barbara is survived by her father, two brothers, her three children and their spouses, and five grandchildren. Her mother preceded her in death.

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Karla Farr
   Posted Sun July 08, 2012

I had only known Barbara for a couple of years. Yet, she had become a dear and faithful friend. I am thankful she is in the arms of Jesus. But, I will miss her. I pray for her family, that they will be comforted. Thank you God, for this faithful woman who had the gift of prophecy like I had never known.

Susan Whitney
   Posted Sun July 08, 2012

I had no idea that Barbara was battling cancer. I am shocked. I had the privilege to be her colleague and become her friend. We shared many wonderful conversations, all revolving around her love for her Savior and Lord. She is now at peace in His arms and hearing Him whisper, "Well done good and faithful servant." May peace surround her family and loved ones.

Wendy Dunn
   Posted Sun July 08, 2012

I can't believe this amazing woman has left us. Her friendship, her joy of life, and her enthusiasm impacted my life immensely. For about a year we had a prayer meeting in my home at 6:30 AM, and Barbara would fly down those stairs each week always with something positive to share. Heaven is richer but we are poorer in her absence. My love to her children and grandchildren whom she loved so deeply. Sorry I will not be able to attend the service as I am out of town on vacation.

Sharon Horn-Miller
   Posted Sun July 08, 2012

We the "Class of 1958 from Franklin High School" send the family our condolences. We will miss our classmate she will be remembered at each and every reunion with a silent pray. Sharon Horn-Miller

Kathleen Shelman
   Posted Sun July 08, 2012

The words that come to mind when I think of Barbara are amazing, positive, energetic and loving. She was always so supportive of the kids she taught and viewed outreach to the Hispanic community as a natural extension of her day job. Her faith in God was an inspiration to me and I am sure she is enjoying her new life in heaven!

Cathy Langley Blunt
   Posted Sun July 08, 2012

Storma was an inspirational giving friend. She made a big impact on my life!! We met when she was teaching classes at PSU and we made an instant connection. She enriched my life greatly. I think of her and her family, especially as I use her cookbook-- my kids have one too, and love it also. I was lucky enough to test some of the recipes and rate them as she was working on it. Mike spent time teaching in my classroom and we had a great time. I am sorry to say I lost touch, but these past 6 months she had been on my mind. I did not follow my instincts and follow through in trying to connect again. She would have something to say about that--it was God speaking to me!! "Girl, ya' gotta listen". The girls and I have such rich memories of the time we spent in Costa Rica with Storma. My prayers are with the family, but I know you have so many great memories to keep her close. She was truly a woman of God and will be missed!!!

Ted Liljeholm
   Posted Sun July 08, 2012

My Sympathy and prayers for all the family, and hope and healing for the whole family.

David & Helen Haidle
   Posted Sun July 08, 2012

Barbara was a beloved friend and sister in the Lord. She encouraged us to publish our Christian booklets and pocketbooks in Spanish, and therefore nearly 50,000 of these resources are being used throughout the USA, Mexico, Central & South America.

Being connected to Barbara in our mutual search for improved health was a journey of encouragement. Together, we researched, studied, and experimented with various approaches to improve our own precarious health situations.

We will greatly miss Barbara. She had a vivacious personality, full of joy and giving. We know how much she delighted in her precious family, and how much it meant to her to spend time with her very special grandchildren.

Now that the Lord has called her "home," we rejoice with her in "no more tears," sorrows, pain or sickness.
love & prayers,
David & Helen Haidle

Pat Reneau
   Posted Mon July 09, 2012

I met Storma when she was teaching continuing education workshops (I still have her Christian relaxation/guided imagery tape which I use when I am under stress). I was fortunate to spend many hours in counseling with her, and she guided me to the church which I now attend.
I have never met a more caring and giving woman. I regret I lost track of her many years ago and was never able to thank her for the growth I experienced under her teaching and counseling!
My condolences to her family. I will never forget her!

Nancy Tasker
   Posted Mon July 09, 2012

I had the pleasure of working with Barbara. What an amazing woman! She will surely be missed. She made an impact on so many lives!

Carolyn Guinther
   Posted Wed July 11, 2012

So sorry to hear of the loss of your Mother. I certainly enjoyed having her help in the classroom when you three were in first grade. She was always so positive and encouraging. My best to you and your father.

Babs Niva
   Posted Wed July 11, 2012

What a beautifully written remembrance! I was positively touched by Storma. Her generosity, her conviction in faith & her open-heartedness were outstanding. She will be missed and remembered by many.

Becky Stock
   Posted Thu July 12, 2012

I fondly remember Thanksgiving with Storma and walking off the turkey in the Oregon drizzle regularly celebrated in late November. I loved her vitality and appreciation for looking at alternatives. I'm fortunate to have known her.

Betty Sones/Thelma Rupert
   Posted Thu July 12, 2012

Barbara, "Storma", was in a "Class" by herself. She always seemed to see the BEST in people and always wanted to HELP people. We'll never forget how, from the first time we came to visit as well as other visits to "The Ruperts", she greeted us as "family" and included us in her activities and also did "special activities" to make our visit more interesting and memorable. We became "Good Friends" through our visits and through emails and Facebook. She will be sorely missed, but, her legacy will live on in our thoughts and hearts.

Andrew & Rebecca Loveall
   Posted Mon July 16, 2012

We only recently learned of Barbara's passing ... many tears here in Guatemala. But there are also many smiles and warm memories. Barbara was wonderful - so loving, exciting, imaginative - she was a great friend to Escuela Integrada; she truly loved the children here - children she did so much to help. We will all miss her. Once the initial tears are spent, there will be nothing but smiles whenever she is remembered - which will be often. Grace and blessings to all who knew and loved her. Andrew & Rebecca Loveall, the Escuela Integrada Schools - Guatemala

Rich O'Brien
   Posted Thu July 26, 2012

Mike, Andy, and Anne-Marie,

So sorry to hear about your Mom and I wish I could have come to her service. I was certainly there in spirit.

Mike and Andy - give me a call sometime....would love to catch up.


Thinking of you all

Lee larson
   Posted Sun August 19, 2012

I am sad to hear of Storma's passing. She was so remarkable and one of my teachers and feel grateful to havemknow her.



Anne-Marie McCartan
   Posted Tue February 04, 2014
Dear children of Stormee Swanson: Your mother was my fifth-grade teacher at Franklin Elementary in Pullman. Mrs. Swanson came to mind yesterday, which is what led me to Google her name and find this obituary. I am sorry for your loss of such a dear person and mother. I would really like to share some memories with one of you and, in particular, with Anne-Marie, as you will be able to guess from my signature.

Anne-Marie McCartan (now in Richmond, Virginia)

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