Barbara T. Abernethy

June 9, 1923September 16, 2012

Barbara Thomson Abernethy, 89 of Leawood, KS, passed away on Sunday, September 16, 2012. She was preceded in death by her husband, Durant “Doc” Abernethy. Barbara is survived by her children, Durant S. Abernethy, III; Rick and Rita Abernethy; Terry and Barbara (Abernethy) Sellers; Dale and Francie (Abernethy) Gebauer; eleven grandchildren and twenty great-grandchildren. There will be a visitation service at Mt. Moriah & Freeman Funeral Home at 10507 Holmes Road, Kansas City, MO 64131 from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM on Thursday, September 20. A private family inurnment will be held in the Columbarium B Faith Mausoleum at Mt. Moriah Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions are suggested to Kansas City Hospice, 10100 W. 87th Street, Suite 100, Overland Park, KS, 66212 or any charity of your choice. Barbara was born in Decatur, GA, on June 9, 1923 to Meldrim and Marion Thomson. She was the youngest of five siblings, a brother and four sisters. Shortly after her birth, the family moved to Coral Gables, Fl, where her father, an engineer, took a job building Miami’s International Airport. When Mom was 16 and attending Ponce de Leon High School, she met our Dad after his father, who was also an engineer, got him a summer job working on the Miami Airport project. After their first date, Dad took Mom to the door and asked her father’s permission to continue the date by taking Mom fishing. Her father said yes and they fished until 4:00 in the morning and the rest of their lives with Mom catching if not the largest, always the most, fish. Thus, began a storybook romance with Mom turning down a scholarship to Wesleyan and moving to Memphis, TN to become a war bride on April 11, 1942. Like so many other young mothers of Mom’s generation, because of the war, college was not an option. She devoted herself to her family and Dad, while he was building B-25 Liberators during the day and, having secured a government contract with his partner and brother- in-law Jake Fleming, managed their machine shop at night manufacturing gun turret parts for the same planes. Both Mom and Dad dreamed of a better life for themselves and their four children. After selling their machine shop at the end of the war, Dad invested his share of the money with Jake in a 2200-acre cotton plantation in Gunnison, MS, which Jake had purchased years earlier. Mom ran the large household while Dad managed the farm and she became quite an accomplished rider on her favorite Tennessee Walker, Hot Poppa. During these times, Mom taught us the importance of treating all people, regardless of race or station in life, with dignity and respect. We constantly were reminded of this lesson by Mom’s treatment of the five-hundred African Americans and “displaced persons” (European immigrants) that Dad housed, fed and hired to help run the plantation. She was always considerate of their needs and treated all of them as if they were family. When the boll weevils destroyed the cotton crop and the cotton gin burned down in 1951, Mom and Dad had to start over. The family moved to Kansas City to start a new business, opening The Southern Ice Cream Company with James S. Merritt. Mom made the transition from a large ante-bellum home to a 2-bedroom duplex at 70th and Troost and never complained. Mom had an inner strength and resolved to make the best of any situation. She was strikingly beautiful and her smile would light up any room. After a modeling career to make ends meet, Mom went to work as a secretary for the Marley Company. In 1963, she took another secretarial job working with Joe Mazza in the Ticket Department of the newly arrived Kansas City Chiefs. When the Chiefs moved to Arrowhead in 1972, she worked for Bob Wachter in Stadium Operations and retired in 1978. In the early 80’s, Mom volunteered for several years in the surgical waiting room at Research Hospital, where a few years earlier Dad had undergone two open-heart bypass surgeries. If you could make a blue print of a wonderful mother, mother-in-law or Nana, Mom would be it. As a mother, she was fiercely proud of her children, but would let us make our own way in the world always standing beside us, not in front of us. Mom always held us accountable for the decisions we made in our lives and allowed us to learn from our mistakes. As a mother-in-law, she never took sides, but reminded us we were adults and needed to work it out ourselves. As a Nana, she loved all of her grandchildren equally and without reservation. She was always interested in what they had to say and would encourage them to follow their dreams. Mom valued above all love of family, self-respect, self-determination, never making excuses and good manners, in retrospect, she had “class”. After Dad died in 1994, Mom was fortunate to find love and companionship with a wonderful man in Bob DeLand who had also lost his spouse. They took cruises from Alaska to the Mediterranean, fished from Texas to Missouri and danced and partied into her final years. Even after she was diagnosed with dementia and placed in a memory care facility in 2007, Bob visited her often, if not daily, and was present at her passing. The family would like to thank all the wonderful people at Clare Bridge of Leawood who have made our mother’s last five years as meaningful as possible, especially Denise Thompson and Reggie Owens. Also, a special thanks to Kansas City Hospice for their kind and compassionate care in the last months of her life. Condolences may be expressed at


  • Visitation Thursday, September 20, 2012

Barbara T. Abernethy

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October 12, 2012

Dear Francie
I am so sorry to hear about your mom and I am just sick i didn't know until I ran into Gary Coleman at the grocery store. Your mom was a light in my life and she would often drive by my office and stop to say hello when i was on the porch having a cigar.To this day i remember how nice your Mom and dad were to me every time I was at your house. She was a wonderful lady and when i heard the news I just felt sick that someone so wonderful was gone. I am so sorry i missed it in the paper bu my prayers are with you at this time.There is an old irish blessing that says "May the Light of heaven shine upon her Forever". Please give my best to Rick, Randy and Barbara as I will always remember your family for the kindness they showed towards me.
Love Ya and All My Best to You

Tom Pruett

Peter and Ty Hinshaw

September 24, 2012

Barb was a lovely lady and a wonderful neighbor. We lived at 8902 Jarboe for almost 10 years. Our two girls always thought of the Abernethy home as the "ice cream house", as Barb shared the treats.
On our last day of packing and moving back to Columbia MO in 1995, Barb rushed over with bananas and granola bars and good wishes, a perfect example of what a kind lady she was. God bless Barb and her family.

September 21, 2012

Francie, Sorry to hear of your mom passing. I always enjoyed visiting with her at Clare Bridge. My prayers are with you and your family.

Patsy DeWeese Duncan

Carol Greer

September 20, 2012

My condolances to all the family. What a beautiful and classy lady she was. Doc was a wonderful man. My husband Bob worked at Merritt foods and he often talked fondly of them. Carol Greer

Jeff Marks

September 20, 2012

Randy, Rick, Barbara, and Francie,
Your Mom was such a wonderful lady. During her time on Jarboe Street, Barbara exemplified what it means to be a good neighbor and a good friend. Barbara taught us what it means to treat people like family because in the 'hood on Jarboe that is exactly how she made everyone feel- like family.
Stefani, Linda and I send our sincere condolences.

Susan (Abernethy)Wilson

September 20, 2012

Enjoy all the wonderful memories you all have of your Mom. My sympathy goes out to you all.

Linda Marks-North

September 19, 2012

Thinking of your family during this difficult time. 8901 will always be the Abernethy house. Jeff, Stef and I think and speak of you all often and tell many old stories. Our favorite is all the neighbor kids playing kick the can and Laddie always showing whomever was "it" where we were all hiding. Thoughts and prayers are with you.

Stacy Abernethy

September 19, 2012

Nana, I know that you are up in heaven watching over us now. Lanie has been waiting for you because she is tired of taking care of Fa and Fannie. I believe that you are fishing and Fa is hunting with my little girl Rosario but there is always cocktail time. I will never forget the time that we spent together over the years. You will always be my one and only Nana. Love your granddaughter.

September 19, 2012

The photos are beautiful. What a unique and special person she was. My thoughts are with you. -Andrea Pharr

Jodi Mahurin (Suddarth)

September 19, 2012

Jessica, your Nana was always so sweet. I remember going to her house many times. I'm so sorry for all of your loss. Thoughts and prayers with you.