Wendy Miller will always remember Barb Schlegel walking into The Village of Winston Park with armloads of flowers to pass out to residents. The fresh smells and colours would lighten their days and she would sit and visit with people for hours, listening intently, creating true friendships and always finding the best in others.
Barb Schlegel (left) was naturally able to connect with anyone
she met, and she loved spending time in The Villages.
She was there pretty much every Sunday after church alongside her beloved husband, Ron. They would ask about lives lived in the past and in the present within the home they had built and, as other Villages followed Winston Park, those Sunday visits extended. They would venture from Village to Village, eager to meet with the teams and residents, genuinely interested in what they could learn from each of them.
“She brought us sunshine and brightness,” Wendy says. “I fondly remember Barb as always being a friend to the residents. Positive and determined, Barb was the matriarch, not only to her family but to Schlegel Villages as a whole.”
Barb passed away suddenly on March 8 and, as the news began to spread across Schlegel Villages and in countless other circles throughout Ontario, Canada and the world, her quiet, inspiration was shared and remembered. Through their community-building enterprises, the Schlegel Family has touched so many people, and Barb has been a friend and a confidante to more people than could ever be listed here.
Barb's family has grown far beyond her beloved Ron and her sons
Brad, Rob and Jamie; her family now includes team members, residents
and friends across Schlegel Villages, and her loss is felt deeply by many.
But the Villages always held a special place in Barb’s heart, maybe because so many of those who chose to live there were facing their own health challenges and Barb stood tall in the face of hers every day since she survived a serious stroke at the age of 39. Perhaps she drew inspiration from those she met or there was a sense of deeper understanding because of their shared experience. Regardless, Barb was always a fierce advocate on behalf of neighbours down the street and around the world who faced the obstacles of life with the added burden of health challenges.
“My memories of Barb will always be about her wonderful smile and kind caring heart,” says Charlene Rivais, who was the administrative assistant at Winston Park for some 20 years. “Even though she had several health challenges, one would never even know if it affected her. I don't think she ever complained.”
When Barb would arrive at the Village, she would check in with Charlene to see if she was aware of any residents in particular who needed a visit that day.
“She always had the residents’ best interests in mind,” she recalls. “She will be dearly missed by everyone who knew her.”
The bittersweet combination of sorrow and gratitude began to spread after the news of Barb’s passing struck. In The Village at University Gates, where Wendy is now the director of nursing care, the greenhouse began to fill with flowers and a space for quiet reflection on Barb’s wonderful legacy was spawned. Wendy felt it was a small way to honour a beautiful friend.
Other Villages reflected in their own way and the outpouring of love and support flowed freely to her immediate family.
Her humble kindness and her genuine interest in the lives
of others was a special gift, and Barb's legacy will carry on in
the generosity of spirit those who knew and loved her offer others.
Barb’s family has grown substantially, far beyond her beloved Ron, three sons, Rob, Brad and Jamie and her daughters-in-law and grandchildren. Across 19 Villages, thousands of people live under the light of her inspiration, whether she was known to them personally or not. Her humble kindness and her genuine interest in the lives of others was a special gift she quietly offered everyone around her.
She will be dearly missed by many who are so grateful to have shared life and love with her and her legacy will flourish in perpetuity in the way her countless loved ones will strive forward. As they give the best of themselves to enhance their communities for their neighbours today and into the future, they will offer quiet tribute to the memory of Barb Schlegel.
Please feel free to leave your comments below and offer a glimpse of how this remarkable woman touched your life.