December 9, 1952 – January 4, 2020
Denise Baringer passed away unexpectedly at age 67 on January 4, 2020 at Morton Plant Hospital. She was born in Norman, OK to Felix and Wanda Walton and grew up in Edmond, OK where her mother managed the family jewelry store. She attended Phillips University in Enid, Oklahoma where she met her future husband, John. Her last semester was spent studying in Sweden, which she came to love. She graduated with a teaching degree and taught in Waukomis, OK after returning from a 6-month return to Sweden as a Parish Worker. She later received a Masters in Education from Northwest Oklahoma State College and then her Special Education certificate. John worked as an Executive for the Boy Scouts so they were transferred every few years early in his career. Denise found ample opportunities to put her Special Education teaching skills to work in each community - Hobbs, NM; Lake Jackson, TX and then in Pinellas County where they moved in 1995.
Denise was a warm and caring person, always seeking ways to be of service to others and to help them be the best they could be. She taught Special Education in the Pinellas School District for over 15 years, starting at Plumb Elementary and most recently for 10 years at Creative Clay in St. Petersburg, working with post-secondary students interested in the creative arts. After retiring she returned to Creative Clay one day a week as a visiting artist to put her creative talents to work. While teaching, she went back to school and got a Spiritual Director certificate and commissioned as an Associate in Ministry (AIM) by the Florida Bahama Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. As an AIM, she was called to service and took a break from teaching in the public schools for a few years. Her work as an AIM included coordinating volunteer groups coming to Florida to help in hurricane relief projects after the 2004 Hurricane season, serving as a Youth and Family Minister in several Lutheran Churches and one Episcopal Church in the Tampa Bay area. She also directed the annual Quilting Retreat at Luther Springs Retreat Center every March, pairing her love of quilting with spiritual reflection and fellowship. Her good friend and “sewing buddy” Michael Campbell was her right hand at these annual retreats as well as on the many quilting projects they completed together during the years. Many quilts were given to friends and family, but others were donated to Lutheran World Relief to help comfort and shelter disaster victims around the world.
Denise is survived by her husband of 43 years, John Baringer; their son Joseph (Leah), Seminole; her brother Dorman Walton (Rudene), Tulsa, OK; step-sister Andrea Sisk (Tim), Littleton, CO; step-brother Chuck Smith (Jamie), Sarasota, FL; step-brother Ryan Smith (Bonnie), Dunnellon, FL; best friend Michael Campbell and several nieces and nephews which she loved as her own. She was preceded in death by her parents, Felix and Wanda Walton and her nephew David Walton.
Denise was a member of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church where she taught occasional workshops and directed the Vacation Church School for several years. She had a talent for listening and helping people with differing viewpoints accept each other, even though they might never agree with the other person. She wasn’t afraid to speak her mind though when appropriate, especially when it came to empowering others or to be a voice for those who needed to be heard. She lived her faith daily, keeping fast-food gift cards, snack bars and bottles of water in her car to offer to those who needed them. The quilts she made and gave away will keep people warm for many years.
Her compassionate and nurturing spirit touched many during her lifetime and she will be missed.
In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to Creative Clay Cultural Arts Center in St. Petersburg, FL or to the charity of your choice in Denise’s memory.
- Creative Clay of St. Petersburg
Prince of Peace Lutheran Church
455 Missouri Ave N
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