Cover photo for Barbara Stehr's Obituary
1928 Barbara 2023

Barbara Stehr

September 16, 1928 — September 29, 2023

On Friday, September 29, 2023, longtime Albuquerque resident Barbara Joan “Jo” Stehr died peacefully at home under hospice care after a brief illness. She was 95. 

Jo’s beginnings helped shape her: She was born and grew up in small, Midwestern Illinois towns. But what defined her were her strong personality, very sharp intellect, and a steely inner core that served her well throughout a sometimes difficult life and definitely at her end. 

Jo entered this world in the late 1920s in Ipava, Illinois, a village with a population of less than one thousand. It is here that her lifelong love of books and reading took root. As a very young girl, she was such a regular at the local library that the librarian soon granted her permission to check books out of the adults’ fiction section. 

It took longevity to rob Jo of her ability to read—modern technology and “books on tape” weren’t of interest to her; part of her joy came from holding a book and turning its pages. Until then, though, it wasn’t unusual for her to read at least three books a week. 

In her earlier years, her thirst for knowledge was evident in Jo’s packed University of Illinois-Urbana course load where she earned high marks. Her intellect didn’t go unnoticed: One college professor encouraged her to major in meteorology; another wanted her to join an archeological dig. 

After college she settled in Havana, Illinois as the wife of Donald (Don) Emerson Stehr, M.D. Raising a family—daughters Barbara, Neva Joan and Anne—didn’t stop her from also pursuing activities like golf and bowling. Also, before antiquing became popular, Jo would regularly attend estate sales and auctions throughout central Illinois. Often not content with simply purchasing old furniture, Jo would embark on refinishing her finds. Her family knew that, once she was on a project, she’d be committed to it 1,000%, and learned to “leave her to it” until she was satisfied with the outcome. 

In 1978 Don, Jo and Anne moved to Albuquerque; they quickly undertook learning as much as they could about the American Southwest’s uniqueness by visiting historic and scenic sites throughout New Mexico. Back in Albuquerque, Jo soon became involved in the Four Hills Village Association—serving a term as president—and the Assistance League Albuquerque where she had a regular schedule at their Old Town Blue Portal Gift Shop. She also served as Executive Secretary of the New Mexico Society of Association Executives, working with lobbyists in Santa Fe. 

Jo also continued her lifelong love of bowling, becoming a member of the Four Hills Neighbors Bowling Team; every week she bowled and socialized, counting team members among her already extensive group of friends. One of the last stories she shared—and her prolific memory was chock full of them—was the time she bowled nine perfect frames; on the tenth one pin stubbornly refused to fall, foiling her chance at a perfect score. 

In early September, Jo was hospitalized with pneumonia, which responded well to antibiotics. However, while being treated, subsequent tests revealed she suffered from an underlying malignant condition, which was advanced and incurable. She made the decision to enter hospice care, and was sent home. Throughout the next ten days, she accepted her illness with incredible courage and patience, never complained, and even managed an occasional smile. During this time her family rallied around her, staying by her in shifts along with the support of hospice and respite providers to give her twenty-four hours of support and comfort. Her travail finally ended when she peacefully passed into the loving arms of our Lord. 

Jo is survived by husband Don; daughters Barbara (Marcos); Neva Joan; Anne; grandchildren Katie; Gregory; Maggie; and Bonnie. She also is survived by great- granddaughter, Isobel. 

Jo’s family would like to thank Albuquerque’s Luna Vista Hospice and Servaus Homecare for their care and support during this difficult time. 

Services will be private. In lieu of flowers, donations in Jo’s name may be made to Albuquerque’s St. Thomas of Canterbury Episcopal Church, 425 University Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87106. Phone: 505-247-2515. Website: 

To send flowers to the family in memory of Barbara Stehr, please visit our flower store.


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