Barbara Sue Rolander (née Herrin), 82, of Overland Park, Kansas passed away on August 21st, 2023. Barbara was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in spring of 2023. Her summer weeks were defined by a revolving door of family and friends visiting at the Eby home she’s resided in for 42 years and offering support while she underwent chemo therapy. Barbara passed peacefully at home, with her loving husband of 60 years, Haven Rolander, by her side.
Barbara was born at the Old Menorah Hospital in Kansas City, MO on February 25th, 1941 to Glen and Margaret Herrin. She was raised in the Kansas City area – growing up with her older brother, Keith, and younger sister, Bette. Barbara attended William Cullen Bryant Elementary and graduated from Southwest High School in 1959. During high school she was active in her church youth group, school talent programs, National Honor Society and a high school sorority called Philo. In the fall of 1959 she enrolled at Beloit College in Beloit, WI where she pledged Pi Beta Phi fraternity. Ahead of her sophomore year of college she transferred to the University of Kansas. At KU she made many friends and developed a passion for teaching.
During her time in Lawrence, Barbara met her future husband, Haven, on a blind date. Haven had (to the day) just been released from activity duty in the Army – where he wasseeing “the world” (Ft. Leonard Wood in Missouri and Ft. Riley in Kansas). The two wed at Second Presbyterian Church on August 3, 1963, shortly after she graduated from KU with a degree in Elementary Education. Haven finished his degree at Kansas State – providing lifelong fun with “house divided” and Sunflower Showdown (K State vs. KU sports games) festivities.
Barbara and Haven began their lives as newlyweds in Wichita, Kansas. Here she began her teaching career in the Wichita school district as a 3rd grade teacher. In April 1966, Barbara and Haven welcomed their son, Steven, in Wichita.Steven’s childhood brought opportunities that would spark Barbara’s lifelong passion for volunteering – serving at times as his homeroom mom and Cub Scout Den Leader. Haven’s job moved the family around the country, including to Prairie Village (KS), Hendersonville (TN), Omaha (NE), Amarillo (TX), and finally back to Overland Park, KS in 1981. In Omaha, Barbara blended her interest in teaching and knack for art – providing needlepoint classes in the community. Along the way, in October 1976, Barbara and Haven welcomed their daughter, Susan, in Amarillo. In Overland Park, Barbara’s gymnastics carpool duties for Susan led to weekend competitions, where Barbara wore many hats including meet director and most importantly, team hair stylist. Susan’s teammates lined up in the early mornings ahead of the competition outside of the family’s hotel room, hoping for Barbara to have time to braid their hair. During this time, Barbara also developed her cooking and baking skills – even taking catering requests for meals and custom cakes. Once they were empty nesters, time freed up for Barbara to continue her passions for volunteering, art and travel.
Through retirement Barbara expanded her volunteer work and memberships in PEO, the Pi Beta Phi alumnae chapter, Johnson Country Young Matrons, Overland Park Arboretum, Johnson Country Christmas Bureau and the Church. Barbara also continued her love for art – painting flowers and landscapes that now brighten the walls of their Eby home. She also lent her creativity and art to making custom greeting cards for friends and family – a sports car for her son’s birthday one year was a favorite – and animal inspired wall art for her youngest granddaughter, Addison, to hang in her bedroom. Her cooking adventures continued too and could be relied of for replicating charcuterie boards designed to look like a turkey for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Outside of Overland Park, Barbara and Haven widened their travels near and far. Barbara organized international trips, including to Panama, Russia, and even a month-long trip to Australia and New Zealand. In between international ventures, Barbara still found time to discover the treasures of Kansas – starting a tradition with Haven and another couple for an annual trip to a new destination in Kansas. Barbara also enjoyed following along in Haven’s passion for cars – coordinating the duo to attend Mustang and Buick shows all over the country. Barbara loved Herrin-Rolander family reunion trips and shared her love for card games with the whole family (often utilizing “Rolander Family Rules”). Though it might seem impossible, Barbara and Haven still found time to visit their children in the D.C. area and grown grandchildren, who settled in California, and all their friends made along the way.
Barbara made connections and fostered community throughout her life – from bridge groups, to volunteer activities, home tours and Mustang Club reunions – making connections with all she came in contact with, often serving as the “social coordinator” in many groups. She loved spending time on her passions and giving back in any way she could. She adored her family and always picked up the phone to call them and remind them so. She will be missed by many.
Barbara leaves behind her loving husband of 60 years, Haven Rolander, their two children, Steven Rolander and Susan Brooke, their daughter-in-law, Dru Ann Rolander, and their son-in-law, Robert Brooke. Barbara was additionally blessed with 3 granddaughters: Amanda and Samantha Rolander, and Addison Brooke. Barbara also leaves behind her older brother, Keith Herrin and his wife, Pat Herrin, and her younger sister,Bette Herrin. Additionally, Barbara leaves behind Haven’s brother, Ronald Rolander, and his wife, Marsha Rolander. Barbara leaves behind countless additional family members and friends, all of which she held dear to her heart.
Memorial contributions may be made to Johnson County Young Matrons, Johnson County Christmas Bureau, or the Church.
A visitation at Cornerstone Presbyterian Church will be held on Monday, August 28th at 9:30 AM, followed by a memorial service at 11:00 AM and graveside service at Pleasant Valley Cemetery.