Barbara Ann Konopinski Lukas, age 79, passed away in the early hours of February 25, 2021, with family by her side. Barb was born on December 10, 1941 in Cleveland, Ohio. She started school at just 4 years of age, skipped 8th grade & graduated from St. Stanislaus High School when she was only 16 years old. She was a resident of Geauga County since 1965, residing in Huntsburg, then moving to Middlefield in 1977.
As a child, Barb always wanted to have a large family & to be a teacher. She fulfilled that first dream with her nine children whom she loved “individually & equally”. At the young age of 27, her doctor diagnosed her with multiple sclerosis (MS) and told her to just go home & that she wasn’t going to be able to do much in life. This served only to challenge her and did not stop her living a fulfilling and enjoyable life. Through sheer determination she went on to get her cherished teaching degree, attending Kent State University while her children also attended college. Mrs. Lukas taught at St. Mary’s in Chardon, and subbed in multiple positions at Cardinal Local Schools where her children were enrolled.
Loved by so many, she was also called Sister Barb. She taught Sunday morning catechism classes, later becoming the director of PSR (Parish School of Religion) at St. Lucy’s Mission in Middlefield. She was a woman of many talents & experiences. She was at times an Amway distributor, a secretary, a realtor, a cake decorator, a business owner, a newspaper delivery person, a newspaper editor, a restaurant cook, and a tax accountant among many other jobs. She was always open to whatever opportunities came her way, but her most important job was being a mother.
She volunteered as a 4-H leader, sharing her love & talent of decorating cakes. She & her students regularly traveled to various cake shows in Erie, PA & Monroe, MI as well as local shows at the Huntsburg Pumpkin Festival & Middlefield Swiss Cheese Festival. Her passion drove her to open “Barbara’s Creations,” selling cake decorating and candy-making supplies.
When the teaching became too much with her physical limitations of MS, she became an after-school program director at her local library. She enjoyed planning & engaging students in programs & activities, such as chess tournaments & decorating gingerbread houses. She also continued her love of teaching by offering tutoring in her home to students in need. She often wouldn’t accept monetary payment for her services. Her payment was the “aha moment” when her student would finally understand what she was trying to teach them. Her tutoring students often became an integral part of her life for many years, even after the tutoring ended. One student in particular spent many years with Barb, continuing to work with her even through her college years. This student went on to become a teacher, a testament to Barb’s passion for learning.
Barb reveled in happy chaos. Having 9 children was never enough. She often said she wanted to adopt kids who didn’t have it as well off as her own family did – one bathroom for 11 in one household. It didn’t matter. She shone from ear to ear when her brood was together - kids, grandkids, great-grandkids & assorted boyfriends/girlfriends/significant others of the lot - all together in one space celebrating something….or nothing. The noise level could be at an all-time high; it was in these moments when she was happiest. Scrabble, Boggle, Bananagrams, or the daily Word Jumble in the newspaper - any word game - were her favorite.
Family was very special to Barb. She attended events in which her children/grandchildren were involved, and this was many. She enjoyed family trips near and far – Conneaut Lake Park, Nelson Ledges, Busch Gardens and Disney World, to name a few. Her physical limitations sometimes presented problems, but that was merely a temporary dilemma to be solved. Barb would shop all year for Christmas, scrimping and saving where she could, so that the family holiday would be special. She had a knack for finding just the right gift for the individual interests/likes of each family member. Christmas morning was always one to remember. Her devotion to her family was her top priority, always giving more than she left for herself. Barb was selfless, openhearted, goofy, adventurous, kind, smart, funny, quirky and a bit daring. She was a woman who accomplished what she did with so little. She never let any limitations - financial, physical, mental - stop her from doing what she set out to do. She had a unique sense of humor and admired it if you did too.
She is preceded in death by her parents, Edward Konopinki & Florence (Schniegenberg) Konopinski Volosyn, as well as her infant brother Gregory and her ex-husband Joseph J. Lukas, who remained an important part of her life. She is survived by her sister Judy (Ken) Kovats, as well as Barb’s 9 children: Chris (Kay), Sue (Jeff) Hickox, Monica, Pam (Glen) Conley, Joe (Karen), Barb (Carey) Bedzyk, Jen (Greg) Lukas-Earl, Amy (Samie) and Matt. Her 21 grandchildren brought her much joy: Taylor (Sean), Allie, Jessica (Matt), Michael, Audrey, Madeline, Kendrah, Michael, Jennifer, Mackenzie, Adam (Ellie), Halle (John), Heather, Adam (Sarah), Jeff (Bindi), Jake, Lukas, Ethan (Livvy), Trevor, Sheyda and Harrison. She also enjoyed her 4 great-grandchildren: Kai, Sophie, Ben & Emma. She was Auntie Barb to many nieces & nephews.
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National Multiple Sclerosis Society (IMO Barbara Lukas)
P.O. Box 91891, Washington DC 20090-1891
Geauga County Department of Aging "Meals on Wheels"
470 Center Street, Building #2 Chardon, Ohio 44024, 470 Center Street, Building #2 OH 44024