Cover photo for Barbara Stupple Kaatz's Obituary
Barbara Stupple Kaatz Profile Photo

Barbara Stupple Kaatz

March 29, 1934 — March 4, 2024

Seabrook Island, SC

Barbara Stupple Kaatz

Barbara Stupple Kaatz, more affectionally known as “Barb” or “Gram”, passed away peacefully at her home on March 4th, 2024. Barb passed away surrounded by her loving family and was just weeks away from her 90th birthday. Her life will be remembered for her devotion to her husband Jim; her four daughters Linda Sullivan, Kathi Mitchell, Susan Brockob, and Jennifer Toohill; and her extended family of sons-in-law, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. As one granddaughter described her with admiration and respect, “She was the ultimate mother and housewife.” Barb was also an avid dog lover and raised many dogs over her lifetime, most of whom were rescued strays. While stubborn, feisty, and opinionated are words often used to describe her, Barb will also be remembered as loving, welcoming, protective, hospitable, and full of life.  

Barb was born on March 29, 1934 in Highland Park, Illinois, and was the only child to Edward and Lisa Stupple. Her best friend and only “sibling” was her beloved dachshund Hansi. Edward was the head golf professional at Exmoor Country Club and Barb spent many of her childhood years at the club. But it was ice-skating, not golf, that was her favorite childhood hobby. Growing up as an only child, she vowed she would never raise an only child! When Barb met her high school sweetheart (and later husband) James Kaatz, it was love at first sight. They were married on September 1, 1954, weeks before Jim left for the Korean War. Upon Jim’s return from Korea and graduation from college, they relocated to Knoxville to raise their family. 

Barb kept her vow and lived her dream by raising four lovely daughters. Her priorities were always her devotion to family and hospitality to others. Barb never complained about the 16 years spent attending high school band concerts and football games to watch the marching band. She was notorious for spoiling “the girls” by doing their laundry while they attended UT. And regardless of any constraints, Barb always ensured their Knoxville home was open to her daughters’ friends, boyfriends, and eventual husbands. To this day, there are many who consider Barb an honorary mom or grandmother. Guests were always greeted with a warm hug, loud laughter, and offered a beverage with cheese and crackers. The happy barks of Mindy and Muffin were always part of the welcome. Being from “up north”, Barb never served sweet tea or typical Southern fried food. However, she will be well-remembered for her sour cream coffee cake and world famous “Gram’s Spaghetti”. 

There are many family stories that reflect Barb’s love of her family and serving others. When one of her daughters called last minute from college asking if she could bring home eight guests, the answer was an immediate, “Yes, how many boys and girls?”, as she was already making sleeping arrangements. She followed with, “What do they want to eat?” When a grandson called to announce he had become a vegetarian, there was a pause as thoughts went racing through her mind. The all-important question then surfaced, “What should I cook you for Thanksgiving?” As another grandson said, “She always wanted to cook everyone’s favorite.” Serving her family was at the core of her being and gathering around the dinner table was the epitome of family time for Barb.

Vacations and travel were also important to Barb. Stories are still told of early family vacations in the VW bus, packed with the girls and their dog Holly. Much to Jim’s chagrin, Barb would pack everything (just in case all grocery stores went out of business) but the kitchen sink. The family jokes that Jim would say, “Girls, we’re going to take a vote on what we would like to do. Then we will do whatever your mother says!” Although Barb could keep up with the AAA travel documents, the family laughs about her lack of navigational skills and the places they would accidentally see. Upon arrival at a rented beach house, the girls would not be allowed to unpack until Barb cleaned the house and refrigerator top to bottom! In their retirement, Barb and Jim continued their love of travel and spent many years traveling across the United States. Since Barb was very claustrophobic, travel by planes, trains, or elevators was not an option. Instead, they traveled the U.S. in their trusty minivan along with a “service dog”, their spoiled dachshund Megan. 

Barb adored her ten grandchildren and was always eager to support and encourage them. But early on, Barb joked that only granddaughters were allowed. When the first grandchild was a girl, Barb was pleased her instructions had been followed. Grandsons eventually arrived on the scene and “oh dear” became one of her favorite sayings! But just as she had always welcomed others, she embraced all her grandchildren - even “those” boys. Barb and Jim were most proud of how close the family is, and that is largely due to Barb’s efforts. Of all of Barb’s lasting legacies, a close-knit family was the most important. To this day, it is not unusual to have 100% attendance of all kids, grandkids, cousins, and close friends at family gatherings. 

Barb and Jim enjoyed many years in their beautiful retirement home on Seabrook Island, South Carolina. Barb was always so proud that Jim designed and built their dream home, where they could continue to love and serve their family. As it was always Barb and Jim’s desire to live out their days at Seabrook, the daughters worked tirelessly as a team to honor their wishes. After Jim passed away in June 2023, the daughters continued with determined, loving in-home care for Barb – knowing their dad would be pleased. They would like to take this opportunity to thank the larger team who partnered with them to accomplish this task: 

Sandra Mack and her daughter Jasmine were the lead caregivers who lovingly cared for Barb and will always be honorary family members. The Seabrook Island Paramedics responded to every call with professionalism and will be remembered as warmly greeting her with “Hello Barb!” Her oldest grandchild, Lauren Spangler, is a fabulous caregiver/nurse and guided the family through countless medical decisions. Christopher Manning, the first child to break the grandson barrier, and his partner Lance Wilson spent many work-from-home hours with Gram to lovingly care for her. Grandsons Andrew and Kevin Mitchell also stayed extended periods of time to care for Gram and keep her laughing. Grandchildren Alex and his wife Victoria, Elizabeth, Jonathan, and William Brockob treasured time with Gram, to the point that Elizabeth temporarily lived at Seabrook to help the caregiving team. The youngest granddaughters Maggie and Samantha Toohill, enjoyed not only caring for Gram but also her dachshund Rosie, aka “that dog”. And spouses John Sullivan, Kyle Mitchell, Dean Brockob, Bob Toohill and Nick Spangler were incredible helpers in either caring for Barb or holding down the home fronts while their wives were gone. Caring for Barb to the end strengthened an already close family. 

One of Barb’s last statements was, “I wish my girls were here.” Of course, all four daughters arrived in time to hug and remind her that the love of her life was waiting patiently (as always) for her. Indeed, Barb and Jim’s faithful love for one another was inspirational to everyone who knew them. 

The entire family will gather for a private celebration at the beach this summer – a place which brought endless joy to Barb and Jim. While saddened over this loss, the family will celebrate the beautiful lives of Barb and Jim Kaatz and the legacy they leave behind.

To honor Barb’s memory with a donation, the family requests that in lieu of flowers a donation be made to an organization that was very dear to Barb:  THE COLORADO FOSTER-BASED ANIMIAL RESCUE. Please make note of her name. https://iresq.co/#donate

Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to McAlister-Smith Funeral and Cremation - James Island, 347 Folly Road, Charleston, SC 29412, 843-614-8494.
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Barbara Stupple Kaatz, please visit our flower store.

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