Barbara Deshler 1946-2022
Barb (neé Cresswell) Deshler, grandmother (Nana), mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend, librarian, teacher, climate activist, passed away on July 22 after being diagnosed with glioblastoma on May 23rd. She faced this diagnosis bravely and lived to the fullest the short time remaining to her, surrounded by family and friends. You all know that Barb was kind, generous, outgoing, grateful, and a worrier. To the end she worried not about herself, and the end of her life, but about what that loss would do to those she left behind. Could we carry on without her sage advice, brilliant ideas, endless good-byes and constant, “be carefuls”? To which we would all reply don’t worry we will. Well now your worrying days are over, we will be careful, and, while we say good-bye to your mortal shell, we will not say good-bye to your endless spirit.
Barb was born in Allentown Pennsylvania on May 24th, 1946, and a year later was trundled into the back seat of a Chevrolet for a trip to Casper, Wyoming. Her parents, Don and Betty Cresswell, moved there shortly after Don returned from service in the United Kingdom during WWII. She then lived most of her adult life in Wyoming, always regretting that she had not been born in Wyoming. Barb graduated from Natrona High in 1964 and University of Wyoming in 1968. In September 1969 she married the love of her life, Terry, three weeks after they were accepted into the Peace Corps to serve in Kenya. The 1970s began in Kenya where Barb taught English, history, and religious knowledge to eager Kenyan students, while living with Terry on the school compound with no running water or electricity in a house with mud walls. Two years later they were back in Laramie where Terry entered graduate school and Barb worked part time at Albany County Library. This interest led to graduate school at the University of Oregon where she completed a Master’s degree in library science in December 1975. Shortly after that they were back in Laramie for more graduate school for Terry. Barb worked at the University Science Library and then again at the Laramie library, while also giving birth to Oliver, 1977, Cressa, 1980, and Anna, 1981. In 1986 the family moved to Auburn, California, before returning to Laramie for the last time in 1988. In Laramie Barb completed a third degree, now in education, and soon began teaching in a mixed 4th-5th grade at the University lab school (Prep). She taught there from 1993 until retirement in 2013. Later as she ran into former students, she was invariably given a big hug and was told of how what they had learned in her class came in useful many years on. She was always eager to hear these stories and proud of what her students had accomplished. She touched many lives over her 20 year teaching career. After retirement Barb started worrying more about what the future held for her four grandchildren, Lola (2012), Mayla (2013), Marin (2015), and Zane (2016). She soon became quite active working with others in Wyoming to seek solutions to the crisis in climate which is upon us.
Barb was pre-deceased by her father, Don (1999), and brother, Ted (2010).
She is survived by her husband of 52 years, Terry, children Oliver and Kelly of Denver; Cressa and Bryce Schuster and grandchildren Lola and Mayla of Portland, Oregon; Anna and Seth Stewart and grandchildren Marin and Zane of Pelican, Alaska; her mother Betty of Casper, brother Tom, sister Janet and Tom Wilson, all of Laramie, plus multiple nieces and nephews.
A celebration of her life will be held on September 24, beginning at 3:00 at the Laramie train depot. Fitting with Barb’s spirit, the celebration will be followed by a potluck reception. Come join us as we celebrate the life of this strong Wyoming woman. If you wish to donate to a climate cause in Barb’s memory consider Citizen’s Climate Lobby.
I am deeply saddened by Barb's passing. I am reminded what a short time we are given but Barb is a shining example of how to use that time wisely and powerfully. We are all better for knowing her. Personally, it was a joy and enriching experience to teach with her. I learned so much from her and both of my children are stronger for having her as a teacher. We miss your joy and your energy but I imagine you are haunting many a 4-5 classroom in the best way.
I always remember how much you supported your kids and although I left Prep long before you arrived, I can only imagine the impact you had on your students. As a fellow Peace Corps Africa (Mauritania) alum, I can certainly relate to the experiences you must have had; my Peace Corps days were life-altering. I wish nothing but grace for your family and am thankful your family was part of my childhood at Prep.
I couldn't even begin to list all the ways in which Barb has touched mine and my family's lives. From the moment I met her at the copy machine as I was still shaking over Evan almost drowning behind Snowy Range Ski Area (and the hug given by this new friend) , to only months ago in the longest lasting hug at Jay's funeral. Our hearts are broken at a life lost so young and so vibrant, but the number of souls that will forever be changed for the better because of her. Terry, I am so very sorry!
Tom, Sorry to read about Barb’s death. Thinking of you during this difficult time. Ed and Guyla Nowak
Just found out about your passing, Barb! What an incredible loss to the community - so many students who passed through your class. I was always so impressed by your compassion for each and every one of them. It was such a privilege working with you and collaborating with you on children who needed your and my services. You left so many memories behind. My heartfelt condolences to the family.
I miss you, Barb. You were one of the kindest and most gentle people I have ever had the privilege of knowing. Your encouragement and enthusiasm made such a huge difference to me and I'm sure to many others. I miss seeing you on your bike and your big and authentic smile. I miss you, Barb, but am grateful that your body is at rest. Thank you for sharing your many gifts with us. "May you and your loved ones be held in compassion. May you and your loved ones have your pain and sorrow eased. May you and your loved ones be at peace." - adapted from "The Wise Heart" by Jack Kornfield
Dearest Deshler family, my heart breaks for you and for all of us left without Barb. Her kind, generous, happy, hardworking and loving soul will be SO MISSED. May you be comforted by knowing how much you and Barb are loved. Mary Beth Stepans
Mrs. Deshler—I am grateful to have known you. I am just one of your many students over the years, but you were my one 4th and 5th grade teacher. So you’re a big deal to me. In just reflecting now, it’s immediately clear to me that you made a positive and profound impact on my life. Multiply that by all the others who were lucky enough to have you in their lives, and I know that I am not the only past student that is saddened by the news of your passing. Your spirit lives on.
I have to say that my daughter Heather was blessed to have Barb in her life when she was a student at Prep. Although Barb was not her direct teacher, we respected her teaching and loved to have conversations with her. She was so kind and caring and those kids were so lucky to have her as their teacher. I am so sorry to hear that she has passed. I send my sincerest sympathy to Barbs family. May all the wonderful memories of her give her family and friends peace and comfort.
Oh Barb you are missed. You have been a role model teacher and very special friend. Just thinking about your glorious smile and optimism about life makes me happy. Lisa and I'll speak for Rose and Heather too.