Barbara Millhouse, 86, of Missoula, passed away in the early morning on Wednesday, October 11, 2023.
Barbara was born in Minnesota on December 4,1936 during the Great Depression. She spent her school years in the capitol city of St. Paul and graduated from Johnson High School.
After high school Barbara worked different jobs including being a DJ near Appleton, WI. She returned to St. Paul and enjoyed life in the 50’s with her family, her lifelong girlfriends, and her black & white Labrador, Monte. Monte made Barbara a lifelongfan and owner of lads. Barbara came to love convertibles, her first was a 1952 Plymouth and after that her pride and joy, a 1956 Buick Convertible. In the early 60’s she met her future husband Ernie and on July 13, 1962, they married in Great Falls Montana. After a short time, they settled in Missoula on Edith Street to raise their family while Ernie worked at the paper mill.
Two children were born to this union. Steven in 1967 and Karin in 1971. Many road trips were made from the time the kids were very small. Trips all around Montana, British Columbia, California, and back to Minnesota. Barbara was a dedicated stay at home Mom. For many years she was very active in the district PTA, supporting their children and the school system.
Barbara and Ernie enjoyed old things and antiquing and collecting became a bigger and bigger part of their lives. That includes classic cars beginning with her Buick convertible. It was in the 70’s that Chevy fever hit starting with a 1957 Bel Air that nephew Curt found in Minnesota. Over the years they owned, restored, fixed, bought and sold dozens of ’55-’64 Chevys.
Together Barbara and Ernie attended Chevy conventions from every Canadian province from Ontario west. Also, to Minneapolis, Orlando, Salt Lake and more. For years, Barbara was very active in the Classic Chevrolet Club International and she was involved in the local chapter. They were part of other car clubs like 567 Club of Canada and Treasure State Classics, which they were founding members. Barbara was also a member of Minnesota Street Rod Association and made several trips to St. Paul for the MSRA annual Back to the 50’s car show.
Barbara also enjoyed car racing and became a fan of NASCAR. Together, she and Ernie never missed listening to, or watching, and then later attended numerous NASCAR races around the country. There were many favorite drivers over the years, Bobby Allison, Neil Bonnet, later Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth.
After her husband of 58 years passed away on October 30, 2020, Barbara had a team that helped her in these last 2 years. Special neighbors Dawn, Molly, Patty, Kathy, Norm, Jerome. Special friends Bob and Deb, Susan C. and the Blaney’s. Others that supported and assisted her are Pastor Chris Flohr, and attendants at The Springs at Missoula including Tyler and Keith. These are some of the people who connected with Barbara and made the visits to help manage her groceries, home, and banking as well as spending time with her. These selfless good friends went above & beyond so her last days weren’t lonely.
Barbara was fun, humorous and interesting. She loved to drive her red ‘57 convertible with the Continental kit to club events. The license plate was “HER 57”. There were many adventures in their classics, and they were not hesitant to drive them on long road trips.
She always enjoyed it when she could visit with the Lawson nephews and their families from Minnesota. There has been a long history of visits from them dating back to the late 60’s. In 2017 the three of them, Curt, Allen, & Gregg together drove out to spend time with Barbara and Ernie and to help Ernie work on his 1940 Ford project.
Barbara kept track of the Lawson, Bloomquist, and Millhouse families as they grew over the decades. She had a special appreciation for her first niece and nephew, Cindy and Kevin. Barbara and Erine were a big part of their lives as they and other family members spent many vacations with them. Visitors to Barbara and family always felt at home and enjoyed fun times together.
Barbara was baptized and received Confirmation at Mount Olive Lutheran Church in St. Paul. She was a member of Living Savior Lutheran Church in Missoula and a follower of Christ Jesus. Barbara and nephew Gregg had several conversations on forgiveness and salvation. She also had discussions with Pastor Flohr and other visiting pastors to discuss faith. She passed the gates of paradise with confidence.
Preceding her in death were her father John A. Bloomquist, mother Karin Bloomquist (Mel), sister Madelon Lawson and husband Eugene, brother John Jr. Bloomquist the second, nephew John Randy Bloomquist the third.
Barbara is survived by her son Steven (Kristi), daughter Karin, grandchildren Kenna, Amanda and Joshua, nephews, Curtis Lawson (Janet), Allen Lawson (Nella), and Gregg Lawson (Kathy). Great-Nieces & Nephews Cindy (Mike) Janikowski, Kevin (Justine) Lawson, Jessica (Ryan) Lawson, Randy the third’s daughter Anna, John Douglas (JD) Bloomquist the fourth, and Michael Bloomquist. Also, Great-great-nephews and nieces Cameron, Koltyn, Brityn, Ashton, and Lilah. This is a long list, but over the years, Barbara kept up with family and many of these relatives developed a very close relationship with Barbara where many memories were made and will be remembered.
A private memorial service was held on Saturday October 21, 2023, at Sunset Memorial Gardens in Missoula, Montana.