Barbara Jean Bodenmiller Saxman Williamson was born March 28, 1932, at her grandparents’ home in Covington, OH. Barbara is the daughter of James and Glenna Bodenmiller of Piqua, OH. She was preceded in death by her husband, Kenneth Williamson (Durand), her parents, a brother-in-law, Stanley Stokes of Ft Wayne, IN, a nephew, Timothy Stokes, Ft. Wayne, and a niece Tiffany Stokes Kerney of Noblesville, IN.
Barbara was an only child for 10 years. She is survived by two sisters; Glenda Stokes (Stanley) of Ft Wayne and Dr. Rebecca Adams (Dr. Thomas Adams) of Yorktown, IN, a step-daughter Gayla Williamson of Owosso, nieces Teresa (Tim) Stokes Werling, New Haven, IN, and Rev. Robyn (Darin) Axel-Adams, Pendleton, IN, as well as two special great nephews Bryce and Colin Axel-Adams.
Barbara graduated from Piqua (Ohio) High School in 1950, and from her Church of the Brethren College in North Manchester, IN, in 1954 with a B.S. in elementary education. During the summer of 1954, she volunteered through Brethren service and cared for migrant children while their parents worked in the blueberry industry near Grand Haven.
Her first year of teaching was in the kindergarten classroom where she had attended kindergarten. That year she had 48 students in the morning and 52 in the afternoon with no assistants. She also taught elementary school in Wabash, Ossian, and Bluffton, IN, and Bay City, before teaching first grade for 28 years at Robert Kerr Elementary School in Durand.
Barbara gave her heart to the Lord and was baptized at 12. She started teaching Sunday school at 16. During her life she has been a member of the Church of the Brethren, the Baptist Church and attended the Bancroft United Methodist Church since 1977.
In 1955 Barbara’s planned church wedding to Richard Saxman of Lansing was cancelled when Richard was ordered by the Army to report to Germany. They were married by an Army chaplain in New Jersey. Her husband served in the intelligence branch while Barbara taught at the Bad Abling military base for two years. While there, the couple visited 11 European countries. Their marriage ended in divorce in 1968. She married Kenneth Williamson in December of 1969.
Barbara has been a member of the Michigan Education Association, the National Education Association, Michigan Association of Retired School Personnel, Bancroft Study Club and the United Methodist Women. She has volunteered at the Durand Union Station, Respite, and the Loaves and Fishes Food Bank. She served on the Shiawassee Community Foundation Board for nine years and the board of review for Vernon Township for 12 years.
Barbara loved music. She played the clarinet in her high school band. She also played the accordion and organ and sang in several church choirs. She loved gardening and traveling. She traveled in each of the lower 48 states. One of her favorite places was Sugar Mountain in Banner Elk, NC. While there, she loved to visit the Samaritan Purse headquarters. This was one of Barbara’s favorite mission projects — packing shoeboxes with supplies for children around the world.
At her request, Barbara will be buried at Greenwood Cemetery with a private committal. A memorial service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019, at the Bancroft United Methodist Church, 101 S. Beach St. Bancroft. Former students of hers are especially welcome.
Memorial contributions given in Barbara’s name are suggested to the Bancroft United Methodist Church or Heifer International. Online condolences may be sent to her family by going to