Music was an important part of Marie’s life starting at the age of three when she received her first toy piano and promptly played “You Are My Sunshine” by ear. She also learned to play the guitar and started playing Honky-Tonk in bars and dance halls at the age of 14. She played with numerous bands over the years and even cut a record, in Spokane, in the late 60s with her sister, Sharen. Both songs on the record were written and arranged by Marie. She always joked that her kids were her captive audience, as she would play the guitar and sing to them at bedtime and, of course, they couldn’t go anywhere.
She also played piano for First Lutheran Church in Plains for over 20 years then at Missouri Synod Lutheran Church in Thompson Falls. Having been baptized at a Missouri Synod Lutheran Church in Plains in 1945, made that transition very special to her. Faith was important in Marie’s life.
Although being a mom was the most important work Marie ever did, she had many interesting careers. She was the secretary at the Dixon school and loved that job; worked in a sawmill as a security guard and at several rock quarries, cooked in many restaurants and traveled the swap meet circuit and local fairs selling a variety of merchandise. She became an insurance salesperson; started her own food service business (“Surf-N-Turf”) traveling all over the county with a freezer in the back of her pickup selling meat door to door. Most of these jobs allowed her to chat with people where she was in her element.
Gardening also held a special place in Marie’s heart. She even turned that into a business and sold her fresh veggies and herbs all over the county along with her homemade “Marie’s Bumbleberry Jam.” Flowers grew aplenty at her house. From seeding them in her little greenhouse to turning her yard into a blooming summer oasis, her beautiful, colorful yard was always a joy for all to see. Entering her veggies and flowers in the Sanders County Fair was a highlight of her summer. She was so proud of her many blue ribbons and being able to share the results of her labor of love with the entire county.
Marie was preceded in death by her daughter Mary Louise Allen, her parents, husband Rod Barber, longtime companion Obert Lofthus, siblings: Douglas Smith (Jenny), Benjamin Myrstol (Yoko), and Sharen Newkirk. She is survived by her sisters, Ellen Isaacson (Delmer), Donna McCrea (Tom), and Nancy James (Gary); her children, Laurie Crawford (David) of Ronan, Chris Allen (Shannon), Debi Kulawinski (David) all of Plains, Tammy Baxter (Gary) of Whitehall, and Daren Brekke (Veronica) of Waldorf, Md. and her numerous and beloved grandchildren and great grandchildren.
A service to celebrate Marie’s life will be held Friday July 8 at 11 a.m., at the Assembly of God (Church on the Move) in Plains. Interment will follow at the Plains Cemetery. Donations can be made to The Cancer Network of Sanders County.