Barbara Beth Harlan

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  • "So sad to hear about Barb's passing, but I know she is..."
    - Christine Fink
  • "We met Barb as a neighbor, we babysit her kids. I ran into..."
    - The Newman Family
  • "Her door was always open; her words and smile always..."
    - Margot Day
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    - Sylvia MacWilliams
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August 15, 1943 ~ April 21, 2013

Barbara Beth Harlan passed away peacefully on April 21, 2013, surrounded by her family. Barbara was born in Dexter, Iowa on August 15, 1943 to Ralph and Faye Harlan. She was the youngest in the family by 15 minutes, joining twin brother Bruce, and older brothers Keith and Roger. Barbara grew up in Winterset, Iowa, graduating from Winterset High School. She went on to complete her training at Iowa Methodist School of Nursing and beginning her career in health care as a Registered Nurse. Barbara married Richard Edwards in 1964 and they moved to Vancouver, Washington. They had three children: Richard II, Elizabeth and Alissa.
Barbara began working at Vancouver Memorial Hospital in the mid-1960's and she excelled in her career there, ultimately becoming Vice President of Nursing for both the Memorial and St. Joseph campuses. She was very proud to have been the first female Rotarian in Clark County.
She left Southwest Medical Center in 1988 to pursue her dream of owning a bed and breakfast. She owned The Boarding House bed & breakfast in Seaside, OR, until the late 90's when the arrival of her first grandchild called her back to Vancouver and she settled into her true purpose in life: being a grandmother.
Dylan was the first, who coined her nickname "Tita", followed by Alessandra, Maya, Rhys, Layla and Julianna, and these grandkids were the light of her life. She was always planning their next adventure, fixing their favorite meal or taking them to a movie. She loved attending their school performances, recitals, sporting events and those kids knew that Tita was always their biggest fan.
After returning to Vancouver, Barbara began working again at Southwest Washington Medical Center, ending up in the Clinical Documentation and Case Management departments. She loved her work and so enjoyed the people that she worked with, that at an age when many would have retired, she headed out the door to work each day with zeal.
Barbara attentively cultivated her friendships and her roses, and the blossoming of both brought her boundless joy. She was always on the go and we'll remember her speeding off in her beloved Mini with a broad grin on her face on her way to her next activity.
Barbara is survived by her children and their spouses: Richard (Irene Edwards), Elizabeth (Eric) Holmes and Alissa (David) Fencsik; her grandchildren; her brothers and their spouses; numerous nieces and nephews whom she loved very much; and a vast network of friends and colleagues. We will all miss her so very much.
The family would like to extend our deepest gratitude Dr. Michaelann Liss and to the staff on 3North at PeaceHealth Medical Center. Your loving, compassionate care made an impossible situation more bearable, thank you.
Services will be held on Saturday, April 27th at First Congregational United Church of Christ at 1:30 p.m., with a reception to follow in Bradford Hall. To remember Barbara, the family suggests wearing the color lavender and bringing a book for a book swap, she loved passing along books she enjoyed and we hope her friends will continue the tradition.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Barbara's honor to the Pink Lemonade Project. She was a strong supporter of their programs advocating for women dealing with breast cancer. Donations made be sent to 400 E. Evergreen Blvd., Ste. 102, Vancouver, WA 986600 or their website:
Please sign Barbara's Guest Book at
Published in The Columbian on Apr. 25, 2013
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