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Waltonwood Resident Highlight: Inspirational Woman Celebrates 85th Birthday

     Interior designer, woodworker, author, Mom, and Grandma are only five words to describe Waltonwood Cherry Hill resident Barbara, who celebrated her 85th birthday on Aug. 12.
     The Waltonwood Cherry Hill family recognizes the amazing life she has led, which is full of stories of love, dedication, and hard work. 
Great Beginnings 
     Barbara was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and lived there until she was 6 years old. Her family then moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she grew up. Her father owned Snyder’s Furniture, which offered high quality products. Barbara had two brothers, who have since passed, and one sister. Her mother stayed home to raise the family while occasionally helping with the store.
     Barbara met the love of her life when she was in high school. One day after school, Barbara asked a classmate to go swimming with her, and that June the schoolgirl introduced Barbara to her brother, Bob, who was a college student at the time.  
     Barbara and Bob decided to go steady, and he proposed in September before returning to school. They were wed the following June and have been married for 64 years. They now have two sons, Bob Jr. and Richard, as well as two granddaughters and one grandson. 
Business Owner with an Eye for Design
     As for her career interests, Barbara had her sights set on interior design. She attended a junior college in Grand Rapids and then the Chicago School of Interior Design.
     Bob continued his education as well, attending Michigan Technological University and becoming a chemical engineer.
     At this point in her life, she was living in Plymouth, Michigan, where she saw a store downtown that was for sale. She thought it would be a good 
furniture store for her father, and he clearly agreed. He bought the store, and they worked together there. She even designed the layout of the store and helped buy wares.  
     Nine years later, Bob’s job transferred him to California, and Barbara’s father sold the store, saying he didn’t want to run it without her.  
     Barb and Bob then lived in Mission Viejo, California, which she called “God’s country.” Barb owned a beauty salon there for four years, employing nine operators and two nail artists.  
The couple later left California and returned to Michigan to be closer to their grandchildren, locating in Plymouth and Gaylord. Altogether the couple owned 12 homes, and they spent a short amount of time in Florida. 
A Passion for Woodworking 
     Barbara discovered that she enjoyed woodworking when she took a local class and absolutely loved it. She bought herself a lathe and taught herself everything she knows.
     She also added a 24-by-24-foot studio space onto her garage for her woodworking and had about $30,000 worth of tools and equipment. Bob put electricity into the flooring to avoid tripping hazards, and the space had heating and cooling so she could work year-round.  
     Her favorite pieces, which she kept for herself, were a drop leaf table and a round table. She said she also built bedroom sets for her grandchildren. Her grandson’s had a slide down, leading all the neighborhood children to want a slide too! For the girls, she built a bunk bed set with their names on it; one end had a mirror for a vanity, and the other end had a desk for schoolwork.  
     Barb shares one particular funny story about woodworking: Barb was taking a wood lathe class, and they were making table legs. By the time she finished all four legs, the men in the class had only finished one! 
Published Author
     Barb also loves writing, completing most of her writing during retirement. Throughout a span of about 10 years, Barb wrote 16 mystery novels, which were all published. Eight books are about two women solving 
crimes, and the other eight are about a man and woman who meet, fall in love, and open their own detective agency.  
     She said she was inspired to write because she “was tired of reading trash.” Once she started writing a book, she couldn't stop! It would only take her seven to 10 days to write an entire book, or at most one month. She said her books weren't long – only about 300 pages, 100 of which she could write in one sitting.
     She talks about writing another book soon!
     Final thoughts from Barbara: Always stay active. Work, and if you’re not working, at least have a hobby.

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