In Memory

Barbara Tafelski - Class Of 1957

Barbara Tafelski





Barbara Ann Tjarksen

Feb. 3, 1939 - June 26, 2018

SOUTH BEND - Barbara Tjarksen, 79, passed away on Tuesday, June 26, 2018 in her home after a courageous and hard-fought four-year battle with stage 4 cancer, kidney disease, and heart failure. She was like the Energizer Bunny, successfully taking on and overcoming most of the significant health challenges thrown her way since 2013. Her son, Kevin Tjarksen (South Bend), and sister, Christine Tafelski (Evanston, Illinois), were by Barbara's side and held her hands when she was called up to heaven. Both were beloved, and she spoke regularly of their accomplishments.

Barbara was born on February 3, 1939 in South Bend to the late Clem and Jane (Kobylarek) Tafelski and was a lifetime area resident. She attended St. Casimir Grade School and Washington High School (Class of ‘57). After high school, she worked as a secretary at Bendix Corporation where she met her future husband, Richard Tjarksen of Peoria, Illinois; they celebrated nearly 35 years of marriage before he succumbed to Parkinson's disease in 1995. Kevin is their only child.

With her husband's encouragement, Barbara enrolled at Indiana University South Bend in 1967, where she earned a bachelor's degree in psychology with highest distinction (1971) and a master's degree in business administration (1973). After earning her degrees, she worked in the tax accounting field, holding various positions at HR Block, Price Waterhouse, and Crowe Chizek.

Barbara retired from her professional career in 1995 after her husband passed away. At that time, she focused more time and energy on her many hobbies and interests. She loved spending time with her friends and family, taking up golf, and enjoying local concerts and productions - Fiddler on the Roof was her favorite. Her passion was her yard and her beautifully maintained flowers, trees, and shrubs, which she took care of herself until recently. Neighbors and passersby might catch sight of her speeding around the yard on a riding mower, as if she was trying for a spot in the Indy 500! She also loved birds - especially hummingbirds - and put different feeders and birdhouses around the yard to attract them. She was also an avid fan of the Chicago Cubs and Notre Dame football. Finally seeing the Cubs win a World Series helped her cope with the fatigue and unfamiliar sensations from her first round of chemotherapy, which started around the same time.

Travel was also a big part of Barbara's life. Ten weeks in Florida every winter was a priority, as was traveling to destinations around the world, including Australia, Majorca, Germany, Alaska, and the Panama Canal. Many wonderful new friends were bonuses from those trips.

Barbara was part of several social groups. She would periodically have lunch with classmates from Washington High School and also had a circle of “Tuesday ladies” who would meet weekly for golf or a rousing game of cards. She cared deeply for her two paternal aunts and would frequently call or spend time with them, and she also cherished her friendship with her neighbor, Pat Duley, whom she had known for nearly 50 years.

In 1998 she met Herb Daehne, who quickly became her BFF due to shared interests and values. The two of them were constant companions for 19 years until he passed away unexpectedly in 2016.

The family would like to thank all of the healthcare professionals who provided care for Barbara over the past five years, especially all the staff at Michiana Hematology Oncology, in particular, Dr. Rafat Ansari and Brandee Flagg, who helped extend Barbara's life by two years with their cancer treatment protocols. Also, Dr. Leshen and Dr. Charles Peterson, whose treatment plans made it possible to save one of her kidneys and her mobility back in 2014, so she could continue an active lifestyle.

Barbara loved her friends and family dearly, and they cared deeply for her. Those who knew her marveled at the fortitude and drive she demonstrated when confronting her health challenges.

Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10:00am on Friday, June 29, 2018 at St. Therese, Little Flower Catholic Church, 54191 N. Ironwood Road, South Bend, IN. Rev. Terry Coonan, Jr. will officiate. The family will receive friends from 2:00-8:00pm on Thursday, June 28 at Palmer Funeral Home-Hickey Chapel, 17131 Cleveland Road, South Bend, with additional visitation from 9:00-10:00am on Friday at the church prior to Mass. Rosary will be recited at 4:00pm on Thursday at the funeral home.

Contributions in memory of Barbara may be donated to The American Cancer Society of North Central Indiana, 130 Red Coach Drive, Mishawaka, IN 46545.

Online condolences may be left for the family at


06/27/2018  JFC