Barbara Jeanette Toan Denk died peacefully on January 22, 2019 at Hospice of Mercy House in Durango, CO after a brief illness. Born April 28,1925, in Perry, NY to Lewis Austin Toan and Jessie Scott Toan, Barbara graduated from Perry High School, and attended Cornell University (1946), where she majored in Home Economics and met the love of her life, Adolph John (Al) Denk.
Married in 1946, the couple spent the next decades in central New York State (Tully, DeRuyter Lincklaen). With a Masters Degree in Reading, Barbara found her niche as a dedicated Reading Specialist at DeRuyter Central School for 30+ years. Barb and Al moved to Norris, TN after Barbara retired (1986). There, she sang in the Norris Religious Fellowship choir and volunteered for the Norris Historical Society.
After the birth of her only grandchild, Ruby Epstein (2000), Barbara moved to Durango, CO in 2002. She was a joyful, playful Gramma. She introduced over 80 people to the joys of playing bridge and co-founded Durango’s “Bridge Babes.” Barbara moved to Sunshine Gardens in 2013, where she advocated for residents as president of the resident council.
Barbara is remembered as a caring friend, an avid reader, and an independent, strong role model as mother and grandmother. She valued people over the superficial, living the motto “a bad day at the bridge table beats cleaning house.”
She is survived by sister Marian Toan Hopkins(Mesa, AZ), two daughters, Martha Denk Inouye (Ron Inouye) of Stockton, CA and Alison Denk Epstein (Mark Epstein) of Durango, CO, grand daughter Ruby Epstein (Pomona College, Claremont, CA), two step-grandsons Mathew Epstein (Alice Pai) of Rancho Mission Viejo, CA and Corey Epstein of Los Angeles, CA, as well as several nieces and nephews, plus 70-80 bridge “offspring.”
A memorial service and celebration of life will be held at 2 pm on March 9 at Dalton Ranch Golf Club, officiated by longtime friend/former pastor, Dr. Rob Coombs, of McDonald, Tennessee. Donations in lieu of flowers to: The Longest Day Bridge fundraiser, La Plata County Humane Society or Hospice of Mercy House.