“If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well.” Romans 12:7
Sister Barbara Kushan, 81, a Sister of Charity of Leavenworth (SCL) for almost 62 years, died on March 1, 2023, at Ross Hall, Leavenworth, Kansas. Sister Barbara dedicated 44 years of her ministry to education.
Barbara was born Sept. 6, 1941, in Kansas City, Kansas, the younger of two children of John and Genevieve (Stempski) Kushan. She graduated from Bishop Ward High School, Kansas City, Kansas, and entered the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth during her sophomore year at Saint Mary College in August 1961. She professed vows as Sister Ivan Marie on Aug. 9, 1969. She later returned to her baptismal name.
Sister Barbara enjoyed celebrations with lots of family and friends and good Croatian and Polish food. She enjoyed visiting family and traveled to visit her brother’s family in Washington when she could. Her niece described her as, “social, determined, and generous.”
As a math and science teacher, Sister Barbara was an advocate for study in computer science. She brought computer education to students even when access was difficult. At Hogan High School in Kansas City, Missouri, she taught her students before the school day by using computers at a public junior high school and at Rockhurst College. While teaching at Billings Central High School in Montana, the computers were connected via teletype to a server at Montana State University in Bozeman. In 1977, at her suggestion, the administration of Saint Mary College added computer science to the curriculum. The program grew from one course to become the top computer science program in the state of Kansas by 1984. Sister took joy in the relationships she formed with her students, describing some of them as “sons and daughters” and “grandchildren.” Sister Barbara held master’s degrees in math and computer science and a doctorate in computer science. She retired to Ross Hall in 2015, taking part in prayer ministry and living in companionship with her fellow SCLs.
Preceding Sister Barbara in death were her parents and her brother Jim Kushan. Survivors include sister-in-law Sharrie Jenkins of Bellingham, Washington; nieces Kimberly Cooper (Scott), and Sondra McDevitt (Matthew); nephews Douglas Kushan (Michelle), and Jeremiah Kushan; two generations of great nieces and nephews; and the SCL Community.
There will be a vigil service at 7 p.m., Tuesday, March 14, in Ross Chapel, SCL Mother House, Leavenworth. Mass of Resurrection will be celebrated in Ross Chapel at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, March 15. Interment will follow in Mount Olivet Cemetery, Mother House grounds. Memorial contributions can be made to the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, 4200 S. 4th St., Leavenworth, KS 66048.
I’ve known Barb since high school. We were teammates on basketball and softball teams in leagues with the KCK Department of Recreation. RIP Barb!
I remember Barbara well from all the basketball and football games. We were in the Pep club, I think it was called, and took many bus trips to games out of town. She always knew words to all the songs and was a natural leader. I also remember her from gym class, she was a good athlete.
She gave a great speech when she ran for President of our Senior class and won the election over many others.
I’m not surprised that she had a fantastic life.
I will always remember Sister Barbara as a compassionate and caring person dedicated to her Community, family and students. She had a keen intellect that was not prideful but generous in helping anyone navigating the world of computer science when it was still in its infancy. She was a dear person. May she rest in peace.
I remember Sister Barbara as a kind person dedicated to the SCL Community, her family, friends and students. Back in the day when computers were new to us, she was so very generous and enthusiastic about helping us learn all about this new concept. Sister Barbara was a dear person. May she rest in peace.