Obituary of Barbara Katherine Bullinger
Dearest Family and Friends
This is Barbara giving you my last communication. I was born in Corpus Christi, Texas on November 28, 1939, to a sweet little Southern girl named Helen Voeste and my dad Connie Jenkins. She later married a handsome ace fighter pilot named Frank Srsen and moved us to Tacoma, Washington when I was 5 and Janice was 6. We went to Visitation Catholic School and mom enrolled us in the same grade, so most people thought we were twins. Soon after, our baby sister Margaret and brother Rudy came along.
Visitation was one of the greatest blessings of my life. There, the Benedictine nuns instilled in me my love of learning. Mel J. Bullinger was enrolled there also so he was in my life from first grade on. He worked in the local grocery store and served mass every Sunday until he was 21. My beloved Mel was the most handsome boy in South Tacoma and had the best car, an aqua and black 1955 Plymouth. He was also a great kisser and that sealed the deal.
Mel and I were two South Tacoma kids sharing a lifetime together and decided to go for it. In 1959, I married my best friend, partner and love. He was the only man I shared a bed with. So alike as partners, we traveled the world together, loved movies, books, collecting treasures, creating our dear homes together, “running the streets” and sharing Friday night dates for sixty years. Mel put up with me when I made my 500 trips to Chico’s and he built the most beautiful homes which I then decorated for EVERY season. Our home was always welcome to everyone.
Mel and I brought into the world our three wonderful children, Michelle, Elise and Rand and they in turn found wonderful life-long partners in Denny, Curt and Venus. Mel was the most patient, caring, loving husband and grandparent within our world. We differed in our parenting and grand-parenting styles but were a perfect complement to one another. The jewels in my crown are our amazing grandchildren that I adore: Hannah, Brenna, Simone, Andy, Bryan, Seth, Grayson, Brady and Noah. Mel and I encouraged them to be world travelers as we took them on four international trips, some of our most treasured “grand adventures.” As I used to say to them all, “I love you more than the world.” They are my pride and my joy, and I am so grateful that in their own, unique way, they have each made our world a better place.
I believe that we are not given joy but must create it and give it back. My mantras also included “go for it” and “never settle.” I was a working mom and I loved my career in nursing. As a graduate of Tacoma General School of Nursing, the program was tough but so were we. At graduation, our class was 1st in state boards. My greatest nursing career accomplishments were my twenty years at Tacoma General Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, ten years of clinic nursing with Dr. McNaughton and Betteridge, eleven years teaching at Clover Park Technical College and twelve years at Allenmore Hospital Employee Health & Hospital Clinics. Thanks to my dad Frank Srsen, I always prized education and I gave back to nursing what it gave me through my teaching and as a president and lifelong member of TG Nurse’s Alumni Association.
My life was also enriched through my childhood friends from Visitation, our lifelong friends from Fircrest, and my friends in my investment clubs, doll clubs and Alumni Association. In addition to my family and friends, I found great joy in cooking, reading, crafting and decorating and entertaining in the beautiful homes Mel built.
So, I have now gone on my last “grand adventure,” seeing all my ancestors, family and friends again. I hope I can talk in Heaven and not have to text message the other celestials. I won’t have angel wings, but I will be running the golden streets, looking for a celestial Chico’s store. I hope they need a nurse for old angels. I believe people come back to visit earth on a different level so don’t be surprised if you feel me when you need a friend. Thank you for sharing my life and making it beautiful for me. – BKB
A funeral mass will be held at St. Leo Catholic Church, Tuesday, 8/20/19, at 12:10 p.m., 710 S 13th St, Tacoma, WA 98405. A Celebration of Life Reception will follow at Bischel Hall, located on the parish campus. Please allow time for parking. Barbara did not want people to wear black at her funeral so please feel free to come dressed as you are or wearing your jazziest Chico's inspired outfit or necklace. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to St. Leo Parish Emergency Services, Catholic Community Services of Western Washington at www.ccsww.org or Visitation Catholic School. Please leave online condolences at https://edwardsmemorial.com