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Barbara Sappington
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Barbara R. Sappington, 80, died Saturday, Feb. 13 following a recent diagnosis of lymphoma and complications with chemotherapy.

She was an Oakdale resident and celebrated her 80th birthday last March with roughly 80 friends and family members in Oakdale.

She was born in Turlock, the third child of Lawrence and Adelia Johnson.

She was an avid flute player and a member of the symphonic band and marching band at Modesto High School and Modesto Junior College, playing in many local parades and festivals. Following high school, she attended Modesto Junior College where she completed her associate’s degree in Music. During her senior year in high school, she met Harry Sappington on a blind date shortly after he returned from serving with the U.S. Navy during World War II. They were married in Modesto in 1948. Following graduation from MJC, they relocated to San Jose in 1950 where they resided for the next 50 years raising a family of four children.

Mrs. Sappington worked in a variety of positions in San Jose, including as a veterinarian assistant for her brother, as a sales clerk at Bergman’s Shoe Store, and in accounts payable for the University of Santa Clara bookstore.

She was actively involved for decades in the San Jose chapter of Sigma Phi Gamma International Sorority, a philanthropic service organization involved in raising funds for the Stanford Children’s Hospital, Ronald McDonald House, and other charities. She was also an active member of the Cambrian Park Methodist Church in San Jose.

She and her husband both retired in 2000 when they decided to return to the San Joaquin Valley and settle in Oakdale. This move led to reconnecting with many former friends from their youth, and to making many new friends through the Oakdale Senior Center and their active involvement in the Community United Methodist Church of Oakdale.

Mrs. Sappington was a very loving, dedicated mother and grandmother, who actively engaged in supporting her kids’ extra-curricular activities. She was very generous with opening her heart, and her home, to relatives, friends and three exchange students from Sweden, often for extended stays, during major transition periods in life.

She will be remembered for her boundless warmth and love, for her gentle, kind-hearted spirit that was always willing to listen and offer support, and for her ability to make others smile and simply feel good in her presence.

She amazed and inspired many by surviving a number of serious medical challenges over the past 12 years, while staying physically active through walking, exercise classes, water aerobics, and becoming one of the chorus line performers in the “Oakdale Rockettes” senior tap dancing troupe, starting in her mid-70s.

She is survived by her children, Sam of Albany, OR, Jeff of Ridgecrest, Kevin of Trumansburg, NY, and Melissa of Oakdale; brother, Loris Johnson of Spokane, WA; five grandchildren; and four great-children.

She was preceded in death by her loving husband of nearly 59 years, Harry.

A public memorial service will be at 11 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 18 at the Community United Methodist Church of Oakdale, 1480 Poplar St. The memorial will be followed by a luncheon at the church’s social hall.

Remembrances may be made in her memory to the American Cancer Society, or to the Community United Methodist Church of Oakdale.

The Oakdale (Calif.) Leader

Feb. 17, 2010