Barbara JoAnn LaMar Dunkel
On November 3rd, 1935, a bouncing baby girl was welcomed by her parents Joe & Loleta LaMar of Lynwood, California. She was also welcomed by her elder brother, Don, who was two years old. She was named Barbara JoAnn, and completed the family of four.
Barbara enjoyed growing up, going to school, and learning. She often shared about her family life, her momma and daddy and brother Donny. Coming through the Great Depression, made an impression on her as well as living during the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor and WWII. She was just six years old when Pearl Harbor was attacked. She would share her memories of the war effort, how many things became scarce as most everything was funneled toward efforts to winning the war. She shared about her momma entering the work force to help on the home front as many of the men left job vacancies as they entered the military to protect our homeland. We were told of victory gardens, that most everyone had one to help supply food within the home and how neighbors shared their garden harvests with one another, for variety and in support of each other.
Barbara’s fond memories of her parents being very hospitable to others who may have fallen on hard times were among the stories she would share. Barbara would share stories with her grandchildren of how her parents would always invite them in for a meal and send them on their way with something such as a sack lunch for later. While her husband Tom was known as the family story teller, Barbara held her own as a story teller as well. She was frequently heard to say ”forever and a day!”
Her first job was as a gift wrapper at Sear’s & Roebuck. It wasn’t long before her work ethic and studious attention to detail was rewarded with a promotion to cashier.
She graduated Lynwood High School in 1953, and only weeks later married her high school sweetheart, Tom Dunkel – class of 1951, on June 21, 1953, which happened to be the first day of summer along with being Father’s Day that year. For the first months of their marriage they lived with Barbara’s parents as they socked away money to buy their first home. They moved out on their own to their first home in Norwalk.
Barbara continued with her work at the Sear’s & Roebuck up until 1955 when expecting her first child, a daughter which they named Kathy Jo. Nearly three years later, Mark Thomas was welcomed to the little family in Norwalk. After another twenty months, James LaMar was born and completed their family.
In 1962, her husband Tom was set apart as an integral part of a team to come up to Tracy to help with the building of the new Owens-Illinois Glass manufacturing plant. He would also be a part of the team of trusted employees to see to the opening and running of the plant. With this new endeavor before them, they were faced with moving away from living so near to both Barbara and Tom’s families. A residence would need to be sought out. Initially, they found a temporary home which they rented in Manteca, while looking for a permanent residence. Within a year, they purchased a home in Tracy on Pereira Avenue.
After all her children were in school, Barbara went to work in 1965 at the Tracy Defense Depot. She advanced in her position up until she left work at the Depot in 1971. She focused on her children for a couple of years before joining her husband Tom in 1973 as an employee at Owens-Illinois Glass manufacturing plant. She worked there for twenty-five years. She became the purchasing manager for the plant before retiring in 1998. Barbara lost the love her life in 1994, when Tom passed away, four years before her retirement.
In her later years, after Tom’s passing and just before retiring from work, Barbara entered the Catholic Church. She was received into the Church on the Easter Vigil of 199? at St. Bernard’s. She often said how important her Catholic faith was to her. Once becoming Catholic, her energies were put into her new found love of the faith by volunteering to clean the church weekly and help with RCIA. She did this for quite a few of her retirement years.
The legacy of family was carried on by Tom & Barbara’s three children as they grew and went on to begin families of their own.
Kathy Jo married James (Jim) Vestri, together they have three sons, Adam, Joe, & Nate. Joe is married to Ashley and has twin boys, Sal & Tino, who will be two years old soon.
Mark Thomas married Valla-Marie (Castro). Together they have five children, three sons and two daughters; their names in order of birth, Aaron, Briena, Evan, Arielle, & Thomas. Three of which are married. Briena married Dr. Travis Cooper and has five sons, Alexander, Damian, Gerard, Julian, and Frederick. Evan married Colleen (McAlister) and has one daughter, Hildegard. Arielle married Ryan Dodd and has one son, Jackson, and two daughters, Julia & Evie. They have also recently announced they are expecting their fourth child, a boy.
James (Jim) LaMar married Gail Jo (Nienstandt) and has one son, John and one daughter, Jenna.
Another legacy handed on to the family, coming from Barbara’s childhood, is vacationing and fishing in Bridgeport, California, at Honeymoon Campgrounds. Many fond memories were made!.... and are yet to be made by surviving family members. The legacy is now five generations strong and continues…..
To sum up, Barbara survived her husband Tom, whom she was married to for forty years. Her three children survive her, each being married and having children of their own. Her ten grandchildren range in age from 42 years old down to 21 years old, all of whom she enjoyed immensely! some of whom have married and begun families of their own, presenting her with eleven great-grandchildren….with one more known to be on the way…….and still counting. These babies have all brought her so much joy!
Barbara is also survived by her brother Don LaMar and his wife, Shirley; and her husband’s brother’s wife Peggy Dunkel.
Barbara passed away in her sleep on Friday, August 31, 2018, in the early morning hours. May perpetual light shine upon her and may her soul and the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace. +Amen+