Online Obituaries for the Indianapolis IN Area

Barbara Lootens

August, 29, 1928 - August, 20, 2008

Barbara Jean Meyer Lootens, educator, died August 20, after a protracted illness. She was born to Rose B. MacBride Meyer and Carl W. Meyer on August 29, 1928, in Little Rock, Arkansas. When she was a young child, her family moved to Indianapolis, where she attended School 34 and later Emmerich Manual High School, from which she graduated in 1946. She enrolled in Indiana University, where, in 1949, she met and married Bernard Lootens. In 1950, she received her B.A. in English and began her teaching career, which over the next fifteen years stretched from Arcadia?s Jackson Central to Michigan City?s Elston Senior High School. It included a stint as an army wife, the birth of two children, and the receipt of an M.A. from Valparaiso University, as well as the fulfillment of teaching assignments ranging from third grade to high school French and English. In 1965, she began teaching English at what was then Purdue Extension, joining a faculty so small that members could all gather in the kitchen of Michigan City?s Barker mansion, where classes were held. By the time she retired in 2000, that extension had become Purdue North Central, a growing university.

Barbara played no small part in that growth. From the beginning, she was an innovator. She organized the first graduation ceremony at PNC. She created a series of courses in Women?s Literature that were among the first in the country. She formed the first literary club on campus, the Goliards, and began the magazine Portals, which published and still publishes student writing. For many years, she organized and led annual trips to Canada for the Stratford Shakespeare Festival.

When it became evident that many students entering the university needed help with their writing skills, Barbara was handed the task of addressing the problem. The system she developed soon made the PNC writing center a true center of learning. Its success was such that many of her ideas were incorporated in other schools both in and out of the Purdue system. Two other tangible imprints she left on Purdue North Central were her creation of the Shakespeare Garden and the establishment of the Barbara and Bernie Lootens scholarship fund to promote the liberal arts at PNC.

These efforts did not go unnoticed. Barbara received many awards at PNC, including outstanding teacher and woman of the year. More than that, she became what one colleague termed an ?institution? on campus. All this was discomfiting to Barbara. Although she had become a public figure, she remained an almost fiercely private person. She took great pleasure and pride in the accomplishments of her students, but she tried to keep herself and her family out of the spotlight. She hated being ?public like a Frog.? Few were aware of how intensely proud she was of her children and her success as a professional woman. Loving, gifted, courageous, and generous, she was a woman whose passionate integrity changed lives. Her legacy will live on, both in the work she accomplished and in the generations of family, friends, students, and colleagues she inspired.

Barbara was preceded in death by her parents; a sister, Evelyn Rose; and a brother, Donald Edgar. She is survived by her husband Bernard; her daughter Tricia; her son Jim and daughter-in-law, Sara Clark Lootens; and Jim and Sara?s children, Katie, Anne, and Amy.

Barbara?s life will be celebrated on Sunday, September 28, 2008, from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Barker Hall, 600 Franklin Square, Michigan City, Indiana. A reception and calling will begin at 2:00 p.m., and beginning at 4:00 p.m., family and friends will be invited to share their memories of Barbara. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Purdue Foundation, for the Barbara and Bernie Lootens Scholarship, Advancement Office, Purdue University North Central, 1401 South US Highway 421, Westville, IN 46391.

Barbara Lootens

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