Chapel of the Hills


Barbara Jean Heckenliable

November 27, 1927October 20, 2020

The world lost a bright light on October 20th when Barbara Jean Heckenliable passed away in Antioch, CA. She was released from a body that couldn’t keep up with her spark, wit, zest for life, and love for others. Barbara was born in on November 27, 1927 in New Jersey. As a girl, Barb made friends easily, had a sassy side, and loved animals. These attributes remained unchanged throughout her 92 years. By the age of 9, Barb had aspirations of earning her Nurses’ cap and raising a family. Achieving her dreams brought these both together. Barbara met John Heckenliable when she was his RN in the hospital. They married and moved to California’s Castro Valley, where they raised their children, Joan and Doug. At the time, it was unusual for Mothers to work outside the home but Barb was ever the modern woman, continuing her beloved Nursing career and juggling the many demands of raising a family. Both were joys for her and she excelled. Her love of family was her greatest essense. Her marriage to John spanned 55+ years and included world travel, unconditional support, and time with family. John passed away in 2007. Barbara was known for her kindness and had a special gift for listening and handing out heartfelt advice. She loved to laugh, play games and had a great repitoire of wonderful sayings, including her favorite, “that’s the way the pickle squirts!”. She lived a life without regrets and loved her family and friends intensely. She may have been John Wayne’s greatest fan. Barb will be reunited with her husband John and laid to rest by his side in the Chapel of the Hills cemetary. No services are currently planned due to the pandemic. Barbara is survived by her sister Eleanor Johnston, daughter Joan Silva (John), son Doug Heckenliable (Dana), grandchildren Lisa Williams (Danny), JD Heckenliable, Tara Heckenliable, and great-grandchildren Travis Heckenliable, and Everest Williams. All are welcome to add your memories to Chapel of the Hills Auburn Memorial Page. If you would like to send a remembrance, please add to Barbara’s legacy of love for and support of animals to the Best Friends Animal Society at



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Marcia and Eleanor Johnston

October 29, 2020

Pictured here is Eleanor Johnston (my mom) and her sister (Aunt Barb). This was at my mom's 90th birthday party in NJ which Aunt Barb flew out to attend, and they both look fabulous! Neither of them expected to live into their 90s as their dad, Asa Eugene Phelps, died at 55, but they did and they both rocked it! My mom is still with us and is now 97. She and Aunt Barb would speak several times a week, sharing memories, telling each other what aches and pains they were dealing with, and voicing concerns about the current state of affairs. It was wonderful to just sit and listen to them talk. I will miss listening to those calls, and my mom greatly misses speaking with her wonderful, beautiful, strong sister. Aunt Barb was as compassionate as she was strong and served as an inspiration to us both.

Deb Taylor

October 29, 2020

I met Barb while delivering meals on wheels. The best part of my weekly delivery was having a conversation with this lovely woman and share stories of our careers, as we were both RNs. I know she will be missed by many. Sincere condolences to her family, we were all lucky to have known her.

Nancy Morin

October 28, 2020

I first met Barbara eight and half years ago, when she lived in Rock Creek Mobile Home Park. I would assisted her with cleaning and other tasks around her home and visited her every 3 weeks until she moved to Antioch. After my own Mother had passed, I felt lost and Barbara began to fill a void as my adopted mother and an extended family. Without hesitation she quickly took on that role for me and Grandmother to my daughter Jennessa. Seeking her advice often and sharing her experiences in life with me, she taught me not to take everything so seriously and laugh by sharing her own experiences. I hold dear to my heart the memories I have of Barbara being my friend, supporting me and how she never forgot a "date". Always ready with a "Hallmark Card", she never failed to have a card waiting to send out, be it one of Support, Appreciation, Encouragement, Congratulations, Sympathy, Birthday, Anniversary, Just A Note or whatever with a handwritten note inside. She had an enormous heart and loved people and animals. After she moved, my daughter, her boyfriend and I, at the time, took our new puppies to visit her in Antioch for the day. It was a great day visiting and playing with her and the 3 puppies. We weren't surprised to hear, she had become the "Birthday Lady" and would walk to other residents in the complex, with a Card and/or Balloons to help them celebrate their day. That was just part of who Barbara was . I am grateful to have such a wonderful day to remember her as the last time I saw her. We will miss you terribly my friend, we will never forget you. Our sincere sympathy to those she loved, we share in your loss and send you our love.

David Hulka

October 26, 2020

For a short time, I worked up in Auburn CA near where Barbara lived. I worked as an attendant at a local car wash, and Barbara would come through once or twice a month for a wash. It was always such a pleasure seeing her. Her smile would always brighten my day. She will certainly be missed. Love and prayers to her family during this difficult time.


October 26, 2020

My fondest memory of Ms. Barbara, was her yearly letters. Being on the East coast it was hard to keep up with all the news of the West coast. But Ms. Barbara would capture the major events of the years with such easy. She always show cased her family in such a heartfelt and loving way. We are going to miss those precious letters and we are going to miss you, Ms. Barbara.


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