On the clear winter day of January 6, 1935, the cry of a newborn baby echoed through the rooms of the family home. The birth of the fifth child of Robert James and Ruby French was met with joy and relief. She was given the name of Barbara Layne and was heartily embraced by her siblings: Ruby Alyce, Hugh and Mary Ione. Another brother, Robert Munson, had sadly died in infancy.
Being the youngest of the brood, Barbara was always running to keep up with her sisters and brother. She was a cheerful child who sometimes got in trouble with Mary Ione and the many French cousins who often gathered at the house. Always attuned to musical sounds, Barbara followed in the footsteps of her mother and sister, Ruby Alyce, and early on began playing the piano. Her childhood was idyllic in many ways, helping her father pick fruit in the orchards just across the white, planked fences, and helping her mother plant flowers. With her sisters, she crawled beneath the many grapevines, spinning stories and often giggling as they licked the sticky juice from their fingers.
Barbara attended Boise City Public School until the 6th grade. Her next 3 years of schooling were at Mount Carmel Academy in Wichita, Kansas, where Sister Mary Raffelez helped develop Barbara's piano skills. During these years her sister, Mary Ione, was also at the academy. When Mary Ione graduated, Barbara convinced her dad to let her return home.
Excelling academically and socially, Barbara thoroughly enjoyed her four years at BCHS. She was crowned Homecoming Queen her Senior year, escorted onto the football field by two of her favorite classmates, Mars Combs and Lyman Potter.
Barbara was also a vital member of the girls’ basketball team, and in 1953 they won the District Championship. To celebrate, the boys got mohawk haircuts and the girls dyed their hair red. That evening, Barbara's dad told her how foolish he thought the kids were for doing such things. He was so proud his daughter hadn't gone along with the crowd, since her hair was still dark brown. Barbara never told her dad that she had also tried for red hair that day, but the dye just hadn't done its job.
It was when she was on the court playing one of her last basketball games that a man in the crowd noticed the trim, energetic Barbara. His name was Robert E. Tapp, and he was smitten.
In the Fall of 1953, Barbara moved to Goodwell, OK, to attend Panhandle State College. By now she was dating Bob Tapp. After that first semester, she was also smitten, and on December 6 they were married at St. Paul's Methodist Church in Boise City. Barbara's formal education may have ceased, but her life education was just beginning.
At the time, Bob was in the military and they soon moved to Washington, D.C. where Barbara found a secretarial job. With her flair for fashion, she enjoyed getting to dress up for work, and also enjoyed the bustle of city life. But neither she nor Bob were city people, and they yearned for the open skies of home. They returned to Boise City in 1957.
Great joy was theirs when they welcomed into the world Robert E. Tapp, Jr., affectionately dubbed Bob Ed, on March 12, 1958. That joy was doubled when on December 18, 1960, their feisty daughter, Lu Ann, was born.
Barbara's family attended St. Paul's Methodist Church, where she became the pianist. When Ethel Palmer retired as organist, Barbara took her seat and Rosemary Belford accompanied her on piano. They were a great duo and became dear friends, as heavenly music flowed through their fingertips.
These were content and happy years for Barbara. Her three siblings were close by, each raising their children, and they would often gather at their parent's house for picnics and dinners. So much love, laughter and levity were shared beneath the roof and in the yard of the home where she was born.
In 1966, Bob's work took them to Wisconsin. He was often gone on business, so it fell to Barbara and the kids to take care of the livestock, many times having to break thick ice on the water tanks. But Barbara persevered and gave her children an indelible memory when she invited their classmates to a Halloween party. She made a witch costume, climbed out the upstairs window, perched on the eave and cackled her best witch impersonation, surprising not only the other kids, but also her own. Barbara always had a sense of humor, even when things were hard to endure.
In 1969, the family moved to Eureka, Kansas. They suffered a hard blow when Bob became sick while on a business trip to Montana. He was suddenly a paraplegic. Barbara flew to Missoula to be with him, and while there her sisters came to visit. They would sing three-part harmony songs to Bob to buoy his spirits, and soon they were singing for other patients, most notably for a famous bronc rider with a broken back. The three sisters brought joy to others even in the midst of their sorrow.
Several months later, Barbara's family was reunited in Kansas. These were trying times for them, as Bob learned to navigate the world without his legs and Barbara kept them all going, patiently working with Bob. Bob Ed and Lu Ann were right beside her.
Barbara became Bob's faithful and caring companion. He resumed work as a cattleman, and Barbara became his legs, opening and closing thousands of gates, driving and riding thousands of miles with him. During this time, they began reading the Bible to each other, and they both became abiding Christians, their faith found as the miles rolled by. Through moves to Texas and New Mexico, Barbara seldom complained at the life given her; instead she made each house a home while meeting all of Bob's needs. Her complete devotion to him was admired and noticed by her children and her family.
In 1984, the circle of Barbara's life was complete when she and Bob inherited the family farm. The place where she had taken her first breath, she was finally home. Surrounded by not only her husband and children, there were also six grandchildren who each have many fond memories of time spent with their "Mamma".
Barbara spent many happy hours playing her mother's piano and her beloved organ. She babysat the grandkids, and had lively conversations with her remaining sibling Cukie and her nieces and nephews. She read and absorbed the words of her tattered Bible. She often played the piano for nursing home residents and enjoyed baking for the family and other folks in town. She delighted in planting flowers along the fence. At night she would sit on the old family porch, taking in the beauty of the night sky. And always having a love for animals, she made sure stray cats and an occasional fox would be fed.
But there was still much to be done. Bob had gone into the sheep and goat business, with Bob Ed in charge of taking care of them. And yet, Barbara would don her overalls, boots and gloves to help, whether it was filling grain troughs, unhooking horns from the wire fence, or birthing and bottle-feeding babies. Her willingness to stand beside him and help was appreciated and admired by Bob Ed.
And through it all, the ups and downs, the hard times and good times, Bob remained smitten with his devoted, energetic and beautiful wife. Each year, for sixty- plus years, a dozen roses would arrive on December 6th. Barbara was what her grandson Kenny Bob called a Proverbs 31 woman: "If you can find a truly good wife, she is worth more than precious gems. Her husband can trust her, and she will richly satisfy his needs. She will not hinder him but help him all her life."
Bob, the love of Barbara's life, died on September 14, 2015. Barbara remained active for a short time, but it became evident that she longed to join him in Heaven. In the early morning hours of September 27, 2019, Barbara's silent prayer was answered. She was 84 years old.
Barbara was preceded in death by her parents, Robert and Ruby (Munson) French; her husband, Robert E. Tapp; her sister, Ruby Alyce (Boo) Hood; her brothers Hugh Munson French and Robert Munson, great-grandchildren Jonathan Tapp, Baby Bowers and Baby Smith. Those who still live to carry on her legacy and love are: her son, Robert E. Tapp, Jr. and wife, Mary Ruth; her daughter Lu Ann and husband, Steven Albus; her sister, Mary Ione (Cukie) Cutter; her grandchildren: Stephanie Albus; Jenna (Albus) Bowers and husband, Chandler; Brody Albus and wife, Janae; Kenny Bob Tapp and wife, Rachel K; LeLayne (Tapp) Smith and husband, Craig; Joshua Tapp and wife, Rachael J; her great- grandchildren, Anleigh and Hadleigh Bowers; Hadassah, Gideon and Levi Tapp; Devorah Tapp; Kimberlyn Smith and a host of nieces, nephews, in-laws and friends.
Funeral services to celebrate the life of Barbara Tapp will be Tuesday afternoon, October 1, 2019, 2:00 PM at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, Boise City, with Bro. Galen Smith, officiating. Barbara will be laid to rest next to Bob on Tuesday morning, 10:30 AM at Garrett Cemetery, located north of Boise City. Services are entrusted to Henson-Novak Funeral Directors of Boise City.
Memorials may be given to Coldwater Manor, Boise City Cemetery or Cal Farley Boys Ranch, c/o Henson-Novak Funeral Directors, P.O. Box 1306, Guymon, OK 73942.
Friends may sign the online guestbook and send condolences at www.hensonnovak.com.
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