Barbara Jean Cusack
February 25,1953-November 21, 2019
Barbara Jean Cusack died peacefully in her home, surrounded by loved ones, on November 21, 2019. Just five weeks earlier, during a visit to the E.R. for fatigue, she was diagnosed with late Stage 4 metastasized cancer in her liver, which was later determined to be spread throughout her entire body. She bravely accepted the diagnosis, and even found her humor in it, up until the end.
Barbara’s life began in the big city. She was born on February 25th, 1953, in Hometown, Illinois. She grew up on the South Side of Chicago, and graduated from Bogan High School in 1971. It was during her high school years that she would go out of her way to walk by the home of the Cusack boys after school. She ended up meeting and falling in love with one of them, John (“Jack”) Thomas Cusack, Junior. In 1972, the high school sweethearts got married at St. Bede Catholic Church. She would tell her daughter, years later, that she always knew that he was “the one”.
After having Shane and Cori, Barbara wanted to move west. In 1977, she and Jack ventured out on a road trip and stumbled upon the quaint town of Palmer Lake. They fell in love with it and ended up buying a rustic, old cabin, that needed a lot of work, but they were ready to plant their roots in a town where the kids could ride bikes, motorcycles and horses, climb mountains, camp and swim in lakes.
After a few years as a stay-at-home Mom, Barbara got her first job in Monument as a school bus driver for District 38. The kids loved her and would often hug her when they’d see her around town. She eventually landed a job at Digital Equipment Corporation, where, despite not having a Computer Science degree, she worked her way up to becoming a Computer Software Specialist. She remained with the company for 30 years as it transitioned to Compaq, and then Hewlett Packard. While she was there, she forged many lifelong friendships. She would often meet up with those friends, outside of work, for a beer or two. One of her friends from work said that she had a meticulous work ethic, but played as hard as she worked.
During those early years, Jack was in the Navy and the Air Force. Barbara often had to “hold down the fort” at home, working and taking care of the kids, during Jack’s deployments and world travels. No matter how busy life got, she always made time for fun, but she also had a serious side. She studies Scripture for four years at Benet Hill Monastery in Colorado Springs. Her research
inspired her to travel to Poland, Israel and Rome. It was during that time that Barbara was also active at St. Peter Catholic Church in Monument.
Barbara was always up for a spontaneous adventure, like riding her motorcycle, taking a plane ride in an open seat biplane in Alaska, exploring a mine shaft in Park County, or going out to the gun range for target practice, one of her favorite pastimes. She climbed Pikes Peak twice with Jack and Cori. She even did a bungee jump with her daughter in Denver, despite being advised against it, due to a few health conditions. She semi-jokingly told her daughter”if you go, I go”, just in case anything went wrong. When Cori was young, they would often take long walks on the Santa Fe trail, and then sprint to “beat the train” before it stopped behind their house to switch engines. They were best friends and would talk on the phone almost every day.
Barbara even decided to give college a try one summer, and ended up in two of her daughter’s classes. Cori’s classmates initially thought she was joking when she’d introduce her Mom to them. They all grew to love her spirit.
Barbara practiced the golden rule in life and loved making new friends. No one was a stranger. She would often befriend and help those who were down on their luck or lonely. She had a heart of gold, and even spent a year living with her daughter to help her take care of her grandson while her husband was deployed and away for trainings. She and Colton developed an incredible bond. He was born three weeks early on her birthday. They always referred to each other as “birthday buddies.”
Barbara will be remembered by those who knew her best for her unforgettable laugh, her selflessness and her unconditional love and support. In recent years, Barbara didn’t venture out very often. We didn’t really understand why until she got that diagnosis in October. We wish it had come sooner, and that we could have had more time with her, but she lived her life to the fullest and fit a lot into the short life she had. She loved living in Palmer Lake, taking long walks, and spending time with family at home. Her family had so much love for her. She will be greatly missed.
Barbara is preceded in death by her parents, Robert and Betty (McMinn) Wyka, her brother Mark Wyka and her sister Karen (Wyka) McCall.
She is survived by John, her husband of 47 years, her son Shane Cusack, daughter Cori (Cusack) Sperry, son-in-law Shane Sperry, grandson Colton Sperry, brother Richard Wyka and his wife Denise Wyka, along with cousins, aunts, nieces, nephews, in-laws, and a host of friends.
Barbara did not want a funeral. An informal celebration of her life was held at O’Malley’s from 2 to 4 p.m. on December 7th. Arrangements were handled by Return to Nature Funeral Home. Her interment was Friday, December 20th, at 2 p.m., at Cedar Hill Cemetery in Castle Rock.
In lieu of flowers, please honor Barbara’s memory by having a beer or glass of wine, striking up a conversation with a stranger, making a new friend, taking a walk in nature, or performing a random act of kindness, all things she enjoyed doing during her life.