March 29, 1931 ~ November 10, 2020
Barbara Cothern, a long-time resident of Twin Falls County, passed away on November 10, 2020, at the age of 89. She was at home with her family.
Barbara Joyce Dudgeon was born in Carleton, Thayer County, Nebraska on March 29, 1931. She was the eldest of three children of Estella Fegesack and James Dudgeon of Nampa, Idaho. In early childhood Barbara was diagnosed with Rheumatic Fever. Family lore has it that she was not likely to thrive as an adult. However, she apparently didn’t listen as her life was filled with five children, decades of farm life, and numerous individual interests and activities.
Barbara’s education began in a one-room school house at Coon Ridge near her family’s farm in Thayer County, Nebraska. She graduated from Carleton High School and shortly after moved from Nebraska with her family in 1948 to Nampa, Idaho. There she attended Nampa Business College and then went on to the University of Idaho, where she met her husband John. She married John R. Cothern of Buhl, Idaho, on August 30, 1952, in Nampa, Idaho.
They lived briefly in Spokane, Seattle, and Fairbanks, Alaska, while John was in the Air Force. The couple, with their two small girls, moved to the Cothern family farm southwest of Buhl in 1956 where they had three more children, all boys. Barbara lived the rest of her life on the farm, where she and John raised five children. There she continued to run the farm along with her son Mike, after the untimely passing of her husband and youngest son in 1981.
Barbara encouraged and supported her children in sporting activities and the arts, attending games and shuttling kids to and from athletic practices and art and music lessons. Family life included a lot of hard work for everyone but also many camping trips in the mountains and day trips in the desert. Education was important and each child was expected to attend at least one year in college.
In addition to farming, Barbara pursued a number of interests over the decades. She enrolled in classes at the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls, studying photography and literature. In the 1970s and 1980s she worked at the Buhl Herald newspaper as a darkroom technician, writer and photographer.
Through the Buhl Herald, she reported on an endless variety of community events and also wrote longer pieces of interest, often about Magic Valley people and local history and accompanied by her own photographs. For a number of years, Barbara wrote a weekly column, “Cothern Comments,” for the Buhl Herald that offered her take on farm life and agricultural issues of the time.
Barbara participated in civic life though a variety of activities. She served for a number of years on the Balanced Rock Soil Conservation Board, with the distinction of being the first female Board member and the first female Chair of that group. Later in life, she delivered meals to homebound seniors though the Buhl Senior Center’s Meals on Wheels Program. At election time she often served as a poll worker.
Barbara continued to photograph and write after leaving the Buhl Herald. She loved black and white photography and developing photos in her home darkroom. Her photographs were often on display in the Photography Building at the Twin Falls County Fair. She supported the Castleford Men’s Club Annual Fundraising Auction by donating her framed photographs.
She was an avid student of Idaho history and amassed a sizeable collection of Idaho memorabilia, including postcards, antique bottles, calendar plates, and books. She researched and wrote about local history topics, having at least one piece, “Scott’s Modern Caravan: Brooklyn to Buhl” published in 2001 in Idaho Yesterdays, a quarterly publication of the Idaho Historical Society. A devoted genealogist, she collected family history stories from older relatives and researched and documented a significant amount of information on many lines of her family.
In the midst of all this, she was passionate reader (often attending the Buhl Public Library’s monthly Book Talk with her son Mike), a competitive league bowler and bridge player, yoga practitioner, and constantly worked at updating her computer skills to manage the farm bookkeeping, undertake photography projects, and maintain her genealogical archive.
Barbara led a life filled with hard work, dedication to family, and enthusiasm for learning. She loved a good project, was eclectic in her activities, and survived personal loss with gritty determination. She will be missed deeply by all who knew and loved her.
Barbara was preceded in death by her husband, John; youngest son William Scott, or “Bill”, as he was known; as well as her brother, Ronald Dudgeon; and sister, Joy Tuckness.
She is survived by her four remaining children, Lynn Cothern (Todd Post) of Montgomery Village, Maryland; Mike Cothern (Beth) of Buhl, Idaho; Leah Cothern (Aaron Witherspoon) of Murfreesboro, Tennessee; and Patrick Cothern of Springfield, Oregon. She will also be greatly missed by her two grandsons, Camas Moore of Montgomery Village, Maryland, and Keegan Cothern, currently residing in Tokyo, Japan, as well as her long-time companion, Leon Smith.
If you would like to honor our mother, please feel free to go take a photograph, write something with purpose, or venture outside and take a deep breath of autumn air. A memorial service will be held in the future when it is safe for family and friends to attend.
Memories and condolences may be shared with the family on Barbara’s memorial webpage at www.farmerfuneralchapel.com.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Barbara Joyce Cothern, please visit our floral store.