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Barbara Swartzen-berger Fleming, 70, passed away on Sept. 10, 2019, at her home surrounded by close family.
She was born in Devils Lake, North Dakota, on April 3, 1949, to Isabel and John Swartzenberger. Barbara was the oldest daughter of 11 children and often helped care for her siblings after their father died in a drowning accident in 1961 leaving Isabel a single parent.
She had been battling cancer and heart problems since early 2017. She was recently diagnosed with brain cancer that eventually reduced her mobility, however, she never left the house that she shared and loved with her husband Jack. Barbara had a fierce, independent nature and demonstrated that independence even in her final days. She loved cooking large meals for family and friends, and it was not uncommon for her to host her nieces, nephews, brothers and sisters on a regular basis. Her fried chicken dinners and German noodle recipe passed down from her mother were a few memorable favorites.
Barbara worked as a bartender at many of the local bars around the valley for over 35 years. Her hard work ethic and larger than life smile attracted many to the places she worked. She was a faithful member of the Fraternal Order of the Eagles for 36 years as well as a member of the Women of the Moose for 19 years.
Barbara met Jack Fleming in 1984 and spent 15 years together until they married in 1999. Both shared a happy life of 34 years together until Jack started to develop dementia in early 2018. Barbara cared and loved Jack for many months in their home until his condition deteriorated to a point that she could not care for him any longer and was admitted to the Columbia Falls Veterans Home in late 2018. Barbara continued to make regular visits to spend time with Jack until her health prevented her from traveling. Barbara’s happiest moments were when she was surrounded by her large extended family. She loved attending family reunions, holiday gatherings and special events where friends and family could fellowship, play horseshoes and card games. Barbara loved to play pinochle with family and friends. She started pinochle gatherings at her house in which they met weekly. Her events outgrew her house and the events were moved to the Moose Lodge where they still meet every Sunday afternoon. Barbara met several life friends through her love of pinochle.
She was preceded in death by her parents, two brothers, Jim and Dale Swartzenberger, her son Patrick Schneider and her grandson Levi Schneider.
She is survived by her two sons, Richy and wife Elyse Brensinger and Ray Schneider; her husband, Jack Fleming; four sisters, Dona and her husband Nick Aemisegger, Dana and her husband Art Toren, Debi Koski, and Lori Barrett. She is also survived by her four brothers, Danny Swartzenberger, Butch and wife Sandy Swartzenberger, Ron and wife Debbie Swartzenberger, and Joe and wife Barb Swartzenberger. Also surviving are four grandchildren, Lexie Brensinger, Ashlyn Brensinger, Breanna Brensinger, and Crosby Schneider; as well as many nieces, nephews, cousins, and great-grandchildren who will miss her very much.
A celebration of life will be held for close friends and family at the at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 14, at the Eagles.
Darlington Cremation and Burial Service is caring for Barbara and her family.