Barbara Jo Brodsky, 88
Funny, smart, and beautiful best describes Barbara Jo Brodsky. She had a wit that was fast, clever, and deadly funny. Her lovely, mobile face would say more in one look than a whole paragraph. This came in particularly handy while sitting around the kitchen table each evening with her family. A table full of laughter, some tears, children of all ages, and nourishment for body and heart.
Barb was in the vanguard of what we now call “blended families” although none of us knew it at the time. She was fortunate to have friends who knew a “nice Jewish man in Iowa City.”
They were invited to a bridge game to meet in 1966 and were married three months later. Leonard Brodsky was her sweetheart. A ceremony took place in the chambers of a justice of the peace at Garner, Iowa, before vacationing. They were married again by a rabbi later that year in their home at 918 Wylde Green Road in Iowa City where she lived until her death on July 30, 2020.
The vacation house on Clear Lake was filled with the newlyweds, Leonard’s two boys: David and Jim Brodsky; Barb’s three girls: Sarah, Amy and Jenny Baum and Barbara’s mother Emma Ditmars. It seemed then that it would work out well. And it did. In 1968 the house on Wylde Green Road added the twins: Missy and Danny. Kismet: a boy for her and a girl for him. Now the house was full, with two family trees spanning four generations.
Their family tree became more like shrubbery as Leonard’s first wife’s family welcomed Barbara into their lives as a true sister-in-law. The Bradys showed generosity of heart and truly were her family from the first Passover Seder at the Whitebook’s until today.
Barbara Jo Ditmars was born in West Liberty on Jan. 24, 1932, the daughter of Archie and Emma Ditmars. Her Grandfather Henry (Mary) Ditmars started the first John Deere dealership west of the Mississippi River. Archie died when she was 12 years old. Barbara and Emma were in it together from then on. Emma was a constant strength in Barbara’s life until her death in 1978. Leonard, Barbara, Emma, and David often traveled together, including one memorable trip to Hawaii.
Simpson College was her undergraduate alma mater, and she earned her BA in business at the University of Iowa. It was while at the U of I that she met Myron Baum. They married after his graduation, eventually settled in Oelwein, and later divorced.
Barbara worked as a secretary at the UIHC after the twins began Kindergarten. Her positions there were suited to Barb’s bright spirit, talent for organization and lightning fast typing skills. She came home to be with Leonard in 1993.
After his death, she began her second career at Kirkwood Community College. As the GED Test Examiner, she calmed nerves and built confidence in many test-takers at several Kirkwood Learning Centers, the IMCC at Oakdale and the Johnson County Jail before she retired in 2013.
Leonard and Barbara enjoyed very nearly 30 years of happy marriage. There was sadness too when their son, Jim, succumbed to a long illness in 1976. She lost her dear Leonard to cancer in 1995. As all the children were grown, the house became very large. She brought home her puppy Betsey, who took to the task of filling the house with love and joy with the dedication only a terrier can bring to a project.
In 2006 David moved from Des Moines to Wylde Green Road to help Barb out as they aged. He cared for her throughout the remainder of her life as a loving son and indispensable housemate. David was her devoted caregiver until the end.
In 2012, David met Bobby Langston while tutoring at the Learning Center. Later that year, Bobby became a housemate too and was seamlessly part of the family.
She is survived by David Brodsky, Sarah Baum (Colorado), Amelia Baum, Jennifer Baum (both Iowa City), Mary Alissa Brodsky (Los Angeles), and Daniel Brodsky (Indianapolis, and wife Angela Rae). Barb has six granddaughters and one grandson, three great grandchildren and many nieces and nephews and dear friends
She was preceded in death by her husband Leonard; son James; parents Archie and Emma Ditmars; brother Robert Ditmars and sister-in-law Lola; sister Marilyn Leonard and brother-in-law John.
A family committal service was held Sunday, Aug. 2, at Agudas Achim Cemetery, where Barbara will be interred next to Leonard. More information may be found on the funeral home website. A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date.
Heartfelt gratitude from the family goes to Iowa City Hospice. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Iowa City Friends of the Animal Center Foundation or Iowa City Hospice.
Online condolences may be sent to www.lensingfuneral.com