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Barbara's Story

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Barbara Jean Tanke Downs, 87, of Muskogee, died peacefully Friday, October 20, 2017 at St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa. She was born March 26, 1930 in Hammond, Indiana to Florence and William Tanke.
She graduated from Hammond High School in 1948 and attended Indiana University, graduating with a Bachelor's Degree in Education in 1952. She furthered her education at Indiana University earning a Master of Science Degree in Education in 1956. She taught elementary education in Hammond for 11 years.
On November 19, 1960, she married James J. Downs in Hammond and they established their first home there. They later moved to Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin where Barbara continued to teach in the schools of Whitefish Bay.
They moved to Muskogee, Oklahoma in 1972 where her husband entered the iron foundry business and Barbara was the Office Manager for ten years.
In 1982 Barbara began a career of 23 years with the Department of Human Services becoming a supervisor in 1990. She retired September 1, 2005, at the age of 75.
Barbara was an avid reader and enjoyed playing bridge and mah jongg. She also loved the theater and to travel, taking many trips and cruises with her daughter.
She is survived by her daughter and son-in-law, Nancy and Les Austin; one grandson, Alex; and two step granddaughters, Ashley and Lauren. Also by her brother and sister-in-law, Robert and Diana Tanke of Florida and three nephews, William, John and Paul Tanke and their families, also of Florida.
A celebration of life service will be held on Saturday, October 28, 2017 at 10:00 am in Fosters' Ivory Chapel at Foster Petering Funeral Home, 904 W. Okmulgee in Muskogee, OK with Pastor Scott Burmeister officiating.
Those planning an expression of sympathy are asked to make a charitable donation to the organization of your choosing.
Funeral service arrangements are under the direction of Foster-Petering Funeral Home.
Published on October 24, 2017
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