On April 12, 2020, Easter Sunday, Barbara Hope slipped peacefully into the arms of her lifelong Friend and Savior. She was beautifully cared for in her last days by the staff of St. Therese of New Hope and Allina Hospice.
Barbara was a gentle, funny, and loving person, raising four spirited daughters who loved her dearly. Every night at bedtime, she read aloud from Little Women or another of her childhood “friends,” then a Bible story and prayers and off to sleep. She became the “eyes” and the wholly trusted partner of her husband, George, who was mostly blind since childhood. She wrote wonderful letters, sang like an angel, and took on leadership roles for causes she cherished, even when she felt unequal to the task.
In the years after George’s sudden passing in 2011, Barbara’s presence became a profound blessing and gift to her daughters and their loved ones. Even as Alzheimer’s disease took away more and more of her sharp mind and practical abilities, she was somehow being distilled into her pure essence, always joyful and loving and peaceful.
Barbara Lorraine Jesten was born on October 26, 1930 -- one day after the birth of her beloved husband, George Hope -- in Mankato, MN. She spent her early childhood in small Minnesota farm towns where her Norwegian immigrant father was a school superintendent. She spent many happy days on her grandparents’ farm outside Cleveland, MN, riding out on her pony to help Grandpa Cheadle bring the cows home.
On her first day of fifth grade in the big city, Minneapolis, Barbara proudly wore the new dress her country grandma had sewn for her. The cruel ridicule of her classmates started a painful and lonely few years, during which Barbara gained her lifelong tender heart for anyone who might be left out or made fun of.
In high school she found a place to blossom, as she and her brother Chuck gained wonderful friendships and musical experiences. Their mother, Anabelle, was a great musician with a comical and dramatic flair. After high school, Barbara followed her father’s path to Macalester College in St. Paul, where a friend introduced her to fellow student George Hope. He proposed to her at the midnight New Year’s Eve service at First Baptist Church in St. Paul, where they were later married in 1953. During college, Barbara served as a short-term Christian community outreach worker in Peru and with a US migrant farm worker community.
After college, Barbara worked as a social worker while George worked in a machine shop. Then they followed their vocation to seminary in Berkeley, CA, where Barbara earned a master’s in Christian Education while also doing all the reading, typing, and driving for George, who was legally blind, as he completed the master of divinity program. They returned to the Midwest to serve a series of wonderful, loving churches in Campbell, Doran, Tintah, Winona, Winnebago, and Battle Lake, MN, and in Osage and Webb, IA.
In retirement, Barbara and George enjoyed 17 wonderful years in their Rush Lake cabin in Crosslake, MN.
Barbara leaves behind her daughters and their loved ones: Leanne Hope and Scott Shook, Virginia (Ginger) Hope and László Csernohorszky, Connie Hope and Barb Wolfe, and Karin Hope and Paul Koch. She leaves her sister-in-law, Gail Jesten; niece Louann and nephews Mark, Vince, Steve, and Dana; and many cousins and friends held dear.
A private graveside service has been held due to the current pandemic. Memorials preferred to Barbara Hope Memorial Fund, First Baptist Church, 499 Wacouta Street, St. Paul MN 55101.