Floral 07

Barbara Ann Irwin

January 11, 1930 ~ August 11, 2023 (age 93) 93 Years Old


Barbara Ann (Faust) Irwin, age 93, of Grand Rapids, passed away at the home of her daughter with support from Faith Hospice on August 11, 2023.

Barbara was born on Evans Avenue in Chicago, Illinois January 11, 1930. She moved to Blenheim, Ontario, Canada as a young child. In 1947, Barbara went to The Leelanau School, Glen Arbor, Michigan for her senior year of high school. She met lifelong friends at The Leelanau School as well as her future husband, Bill Irwin. They graduated in 1948 and attended Michigan State University the following fall.   

Barbara had a passion for early childhood education and ultimately attended Perry Normal School in Boston, later teaching nursery school in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.  While there she reconnected via letters with Bill who encouraged her to move back to Michigan.  They were married at Fountain Street Church on July 16th, 1955, in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

During her school years, Barbara most loved downhill skiing at Michigan’s Sugar Loaf Mountain and then while “out East” in Quebec, Canada and Stowe, Vermont.

After relocating to Grand Rapids, she taught Kindergarten at Walker Station Elementary and 1st grade at Stocking Elementary.  Teacher-friends she taught with at Stocking School became dear besties for life.

Barbara was a dedicated homemaker for her husband and three children, especially enjoying culinary creations in the kitchen and entertaining family and friends.  Throughout Bill’s career and her daughters’ upbringing, she served in the Grand Rapids Women’s Symphony Committee, volunteering at the Women’s City Club and the East Grand Rapids Library. In addition, Barbara also served as a trustee on The Board of the Leelanau School. Barbara’s love of classical symphony music began with the Boston Pops when she went to school in Boston. However, Bill and Barb’s numerous weekend trips to Chicago always included an evening at the Chicago Symphony Hall. Barb followed Maestro Riccardo Muti’s entire career as conductor of the CSO.

The ways in which Barbara supported her daughters’ educational pursuits and activities are so numerous. We have fond memories of her involvement at Westwood Hills PTA, Campfire Girls, Summer Reading programs, Band trips and competitions. She was, with all her heart, a devoted, loving mother and wife.

Surviving are three daughters, Louann Kohlbeck (Douglas), Nancy Gaylen (Matthew) and Ellen Lesnick (Benjamin); seven grandchildren, Ashley and Pierson (Erin) Kohlbeck, Rose, Judith and Ruby Gaylen and Lindsay and Joseph Lesnick.

She was preceded in death by her husband of 52 years, William Pierson Irwin; her parents, Florence Garnet and William Harry Faust and sister Priscilla Jane (Faust) Stewart.

A graveside memorial service with immediate family is being planned.

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