Cover photo for Barbara Ellen Harbeck's Obituary
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1932 Barbara 2022

Barbara Ellen Harbeck

July 17, 1932 — December 15, 2022

Barbara Ellen Harbeck, 90, of Sioux City, IA passed away December 15th, 2022 from natural causes.  A Celebration of Life will be held Saturday, January 7th at 11:00 a.m. at Whitfield United Methodist Church 1319 West 5th Street in Sioux City.  Meyer Brothers Colonial Chapel is handling the arrangements.  Online condolences may be made to

Barb was born Barbara Ellen Robertson on July 17, 1932 to Charlie and Mamie Robertson in Sioux City, a town she loved because her friends and family were here, so she never left.   A month after graduating from Central High School in 1950 she married Leon Harbeck, who she had known since she was 10 years old.  She went to work for Cudahy Packing Company as a secretary until she started having children, and after the last of the children were grown went back to work as church secretary for Whitfield United Methodist Church, a job she loved very much and she remained there until she retired. She was predeceased by her husband Leon and her brothers Kenny and Gale. 

Barb and Leon had 4 children.  The first, Randy, has two sons Adam (wife Sharon, sons Myloh, Giovanni, and Angelo) and Chad and they all live in the Portland Oregon area.  The second, Kirk, has two daughters, Amy and Rachel.  Kirk and his wife Denise live in the Portland area as does Amy.   Rachel lives with her partner Sean in Melbourne Australia.  The third, Julie Harbeck Ivory, has two sons Ezra and Sedale.  Julie lives in Sioux City with her husband Geames Ivory and her son Ezra lives in Los Angeles with his wife Buki and her son Sedale lives in Asheville North Carolina with his partner Jordan.  The fourth, Rob, lives in the Portland area with his wife Laura and their daughter Grace and son Spencer. 

Barb had many hobbies and interests throughout her life: painting, woodcarving, and ceramics were her artistic pursuits and she loved to travel, walk and to play cards.  She was cheerfully ruthless in gin rummy, especially with her kids. 

She was a forgiving daughter, a faithful wife, a loyal friend, a good neighbor, and a wonderful mother.  She had trials and hardships in her life but she had the gift of laughter and did not speak ill of others and moved through her life with compassion, grace and forgiveness towards others.  She was a good piano player, she swam across Brown’s Lake as a teenager with her brother-in-law-to-be Donald following her in a rowboat, and she ice skated at Heddington Park when they used to flood it in the wintertime.  She could wiggle her ears and balance a spoon on her nose after she’d had a couple.  She knew how to tell a good joke and she knew how to laugh at yours, even if yours wasn’t really that funny.  We remember raucous card games in our dining room with her and Dad playing pitch and 500 with other couples, family and friends, and Mom doing a bit of trash talking. All us kids teased each other that we were her favorite (and each of us secretly knew that we were the One).  She was a good cook and would bake us our favorite pie for our birthdays.  And she grew Beefsteak tomatoes in 5 gallon buckets and would strategically move the buckets around the yard during the day so they’d get just the right amount of sun. When we took our turns to grow up and leave town, she didn’t make us feel guilty but took joy in visiting us and learning new places and having new adventures.  She welcomed our partners-even the mistakes-and after heartbreaks would help pick us up, dust us off and send us on our way again.  She was a good listener and a good conversationalist and was always interested in whatever it was that we were interested in.  She loved to walk the Sioux River trail from Riverside Park until her feet betrayed her.  She had increasingly severe dementia and her body outlived her mind.  She lives on in her sayings:  “Gadfrey!  Jeeminy Christmas!  Criminetlies! I’ll be darned! Okeedokee! Tough Darts, Ralph! Hunky Dory!” which all of her children still say really often no matter how hard they try not to. She was a Mom to be proud of, a class act, and will be missed by all who were fortunate enough to know her.   We look forward to seeing her again. 

The family requests no flowers.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Barbara Ellen Harbeck, please visit our flower store.


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