On Aug. 6, 2020, heaven gained an angel, Barbara Ann Fears (63), when she was lifted up to the Lord.
Born on Sept. 5, 1956, in San Francisco, to David and Betty Raff, she was the eldest daughter of four children, was raised in San Bruno, California, and graduated from Crestmoor High School in 1974.
Barbara was a true survivor from the start. She overcame a severe case of ulcerative colitis at the tender age of 12, and later on in life, met several challenges, including a broken back from a sneaker wave in Hawaii, several broken bones over the years, and encephalitis that left her debilitated for over a year, but nothing could break her spirit or sense of adventure for life!
In 1980, Barbara married Bradley Schimek, and in 1982, gave birth to their son, Brenton Schimek, living in Union City, then Fremont, for 13 years. She achieved her bachelor's degree in organizational behavior management from Golden Gate University, San Francisco, and enjoyed a successful career in human resources. She ultimately retired as the vice president of human resources from Dexter Magnetics in Fremont.
In 1994, Barbara went to see a band at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, where she met Tom Fears, the percussionist. It was love at first sight! They married a couple of years later, blending their families (her son, Brenton, and his two daughters, Allison and Hannah), and lived in San Carlos until retiring in 2005.
Upon retirement, Barb and Tom moved to Sandpoint, Idaho, to relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery, but Barb's endless energy and her great sense of adventure for life steered her towards purchasing a wine bar in their new downtown, naming it Stage Right Cellars. There, she managed the business; hosted many social events, including musicians on open-mic night; and displayed local art from local artists, all which led to meeting many new friends in their new hometown.
Barbara's selfless gift of giving was felt by all who knew her. She loved hosting parties, entertaining friends and family, boat rides on Lake Pend Oreille, cooking and dropping off meals to friends who she knew could use a home cooked meal, and she could always be depended on to help family and friends in need. She loved all genres of music, playing piano and keyboards and singing, and she was her husband's biggest fan, as he continued to play percussion in various local Sandpoint bands, meeting many local musicians in the process.
Barb came up with the idea to host an annual Barbara-palooza event at their home to have Tom's band play and entertain friends and neighbors, and they invited other musicians to join and jam together for this one-of-a-kind event. Barbara-palooza grew in size each year, with friends and family coming from all over the USA to enjoy the event and share their love of music and camaraderie.
Barbara was a devout Lutheran and an avid SF 49ers & SF Giants fan. She loved spending time with family, friends and her dogs; and enjoyed cooking, baking, golf, boating, fishing, old movies, spending time at the loving cabin, smores, hot fudge sundaes, sinkers and pudding, lefsa, travelling, and especially cruises. She was nicknamed "Binger" after a cruise when she won a large pot of money playing Bingo, calling out, "Binger!" instead of Bingo in all her excitement, thus, the nickname stuck!
Sadly, in 2011, Tom passed away, which left a huge hole in Barb's heart and challenged her zest for life and what would lie ahead for her without him there to enjoy it with. Fortunately, her ‘Sandpoint family’ stepped in, which she was forever grateful for, and they were there for her when she needed them the most.
In 2017, after many long winters in Idaho, Barb decided it was time for a change and a move to a warmer climate with her new love, Steve Coffman, choosing Gilbert, Arizona. There, they enjoyed the hot weather, cooling off in their beautiful pool, BBQing, golfing, and riding their Harley with their new friends at the American Legion Riders Post 39, enjoying many rides through the beautiful desert landscape. She was an active member of the American Legion Post 39 Auxiliary, serving on the executive board and had recently accepted the position of vice president
Always looking for something new to learn and having an intense love for cooking, she applied to the Arizona Culinary Institute, graduated with honors in 2019, and took great pride in being the oldest student to attend and graduate in her school. She then decided to learn salsa and took private lessons during Covid, completing her classes with hopes of showing off her new moves in a Latin country once the travel restrictions were lifted.
Barbara is survived by her love, Steve Coffman, of Gilbert, Arizona; her three siblings, William Raff of Forestville, California, Paul Raff of Sam Francisco, and Rose Gardner (Bill) of Livermore; son, Brenton Schimek (Jasmine) of San Bruno, California; step-daughters Allison Fears (Zach) of Sonora, California, and Hannah Cook (Zach) of Sandpoint, Idaho; adopted daughters, Santina Wood of Roseville, California, Dawn Docherty of Scotland; and adopted son, Joe of Sandpoint, Idaho. She adored being called Grandma "Tutu" and Grandma Barb by her five grandchildren, Stella, Jackson, Kylie, Taylor and Walker. She is also survived by eight nieces and nephews, and 12 great nieces and nephews.
Her wishes were to be cremated and her ashes spread in Hawaii, joining her husband, Tom. No date has been set due to the present pandemic situation. A memorial donation in Barb's honor can be made to the Fisher House, at fisherhouse.org/about//. Your tax-deductible donation can be made payable to ALR39: American Legion Riders Post 39, Attn: Cat Ludwick, 206 N. Gilbert Road, Gilbert, AZ, 85234, Note: Barbara Fears Memorial Donation.
You will be dearly missed on Earth, but your memory will always be in our hearts forever! Heaven has gained an angel, so sing and dance to your hearts content, dear Barbara. Until we meet again!