Barbara Louise Gurtler Kuni Branch Reed went to Heaven on January 10, 2023, at the age of 91 in Fishers, IN. She was born on July 18, 1931, to Ruth Louise Wernert and William August Gurtler in Wilkinsburg, PA. The family moved frequently as her father was a civil engineer, involved in building bridges across the country. In 1937, her mother died of leukemia, and Barbie and her younger brother, Bill, went to live with their paternal grandparents, Charles and Mary Gurtler, in Chicago, IL. They were German immigrants who were fiercely patriotic about their new country. Her grandfather took great pride in voting in every election which led Barbie to become very interested in politics.
From an early age, Barb accepted Christ as her personal Savior, thanks to the spiritual counsel and witness of her Uncle Lester Gurtler. She always trusted God and looked to the Lord to direct her path.
Barbie was in marching band and graduated as valedictorian from Reynoldsburg High School in Ohio in 1948. She graduated as salutatorian from Hillsdale College in Michigan in 1952 with a BA teaching degree in child development. While in college, Barbara worked as a college switchboard operator, was active in the Chi Omega sorority, on the editorial staff of the college yearbook and newspaper, a cheerleader, nominated for homecoming court, and involved in the International Relations Club, which presented mock assemblies to colleges and high schools in Michigan of the then-newly created United Nations. She also received a scholarship to the Merrill-Palmer School in Detroit, MI, for post graduate child development studies.
In April 1952, Barbara married her college sweetheart, William H. Kuni, from Detroit, MI. Bill worked as a finance manager for Household Finance. To this union were born eight children: Denise Ruth (Mike) Charlston; William Henry Kuni, III; Diane Marie (Paul) Thorsell; David Wayne Kuni; Bruce William (Kim) Kuni; Donna Louise (Matt) Rollins; and twins, Deborah Jean Kuni Hines and Daniel Paul (Jill) Kuni. Throughout the years the family lived in Chicago, IL; Long Island, NY; Cleveland, OH; Atchison, KS, and East Peoria, IL.
Bill and Barb greatly enjoyed entertaining with a local bridge card club. Barb was very involved in leadership of both Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts. She served in her local church as pianist, Sunday school teacher, Ladies Bible studies leader, Youth for Christ leader, Vacation Bible School Director, and other ministries.
Barb worked as a substitute teacher in Atchison, KS, then later as a full-time teacher at Lowpoint Washburn Elementary School in Illinois. She always had a special interest in history and government, and was an avid reader. In 1989, Barbara received a grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities on teaching the US Constitution to elementary students. The grant included educational trips to Gettysburg, PA and Washington, DC. In 1990, she earned the “Outstanding History Teacher” award by Daughters of the American Revolution.
Later in life, Barb married Maynard Branch in December 2001. She enjoyed caring for his six adult children and grandchildren. Barb and Maynard traveled around the U.S., seeing sites and visiting family members. After Maynard passed away in November 2012, Barb moved to Fishers, IN, to be closer to family.
In 2019, Barb reconnected with an old friend, Dr. John Reed, from Dallas Theological Seminary. They were married in March 2020 and lived in Fishers, IN. They were thankful to God for the time they had together before John went to Heaven in September 2020.
During her lifetime, Barb enjoyed traveling: to Reynoldsburg, OH, for high school reunions; to Europe with daughter Debby; to Noah’s Ark in KY, with daughter Donna; to Williamsburg, VA, with daughters Donna and Debby; to Atchison, KS, with Denise, Diane, and Donna; to a Chicago Cubs game with sons, Bruce and Dan, plus grandsons; and a very memorable trip to Israel. A special highlight from Barb’s life was the weekly calls from her son Bill and the many visits from her son Dave who would always mow her yard. Barbara also enjoyed God’s creation, animals, and especially birds as they fed from her window.
Barbara was preceded in death by her beloved: husbands, parents, grandparents (Wernert and Gurtler), sister-in-law Jean Lou Gurtler, Uncle Lester and Aunt Stephanie Gurtler, cousin Judy Gurtler Wallin, niece Lisa Gurtler Henry, and, sister Jean Gurtler Might. She is survived by her eight children, two brothers, Bill Gurtler and Paul Gurtler (Kimberly), 21 grandchildren, 32 great grandchildren, and many relatives and dear friends.
Barbara had a deep love for the Word of God and a strong desire to share Christ’s love with whomever she met. Her greatest desire was for everyone she knew to have a personal relationship with our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Barbara’s life will be celebrated at these times:
• Visitation at 6 PM-8 PM EST on Wednesday, January 18, 2023
• Visitation at 9:00 AM-10:00 AM on Thursday, January 19, 2023
• Celebration of Life Service at 10:00 AM-11:00 AM on Thursday, January 19, 2023
Visitations and funeral service will take place at Trinity Baptist Church at 1010 E. 126th St., Carmel, IN 46033. Interment will follow afterwards at Marion National Cemetery in Marion, IN. Pastor Kurt Larson will officiate.
Per Barbara’s request, she would like memorial gifts to be made to the ministry, H.O.P.E., INC. (Home of Parent-directed Edification) at https://www.parentshope.org/donate.
Barbara wished to share this verse with you:
“And this is His command: to believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as He commanded us.” 1 John 3:23