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Obituary for Barbara Jo Vanderleest

June 10, 1954 – June 10, 2023

Barbara Jo (nee: Filippone) Vanderleest passed away peacefully at home, surrounded by the love of family on her 69th birthday, early Saturday morning on June 10 following a six-week battle with cancer.

Barbara Jo Vanderleest
Barbara Jo Vanderleest

Barbara was born in Racine on June 10, 1954, to the late Joseph L. and Janis E. (nee: Rhodes) Filippone. She attended Sacred Heart School and graduated from J. I. Case High School in 1972. She went on to earn her degree in elementary education from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside in 1977. On Sept. 10, 1977, in Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Barbara was united in marriage with the love of her life, Bernard “Bernie” Vanderleest.

Barbara was a longtime member of Racine Christian Reformed Church. With a great passion for children, Barbara taught the kindergarten class at Racine Christian School for 26 years, retiring in 2017. She loved spending time with her entire family, especially her granddaughters, Paige (age 9) and Zoey (age 7). She also enjoyed getting together with her closest friends.

Barbara enjoyed cooking and hosting family get-togethers. She enjoyed walking, crossword puzzles, word games and crafting with friends. She also had a passion for decorating and caring for her household.

Surviving are her loving husband of 45 years, Bernie; sons, Adam (Jamie) Vanderleest and Ryan (Sharen) Vanderleest; adored granddaughters, Paige and Zoey; sisters, Nancy Hansen, Cynthia (Eugene) Dougherty, Jennifer Filippone and Mary (William) Henderson; brother, David (Tricia) Filippone; sisters-in-law, Heather (Dennis) Jensen, Marcia (Al) Tinman and Kimberly (Don) Lloyd; nieces, nephews, other relatives, former students, and many friends, too numerous to mention all by name.

In addition to her parents, Barbara was preceded in death by Bernie’s parents, Philip and Dorothy (nee: Reyenga) Vanderleest; and brother-in-law, Peter Hansen.


A service celebrating Barbara’s life will be held at 11 a.m. on June 17 at Racine Christian Reformed Church, with Pastor Anson Veenstra officiating. Visitation will be from 9 to 10:45 a.m. in the church.

You may witness the funeral via live stream by clicking here on Saturday at 11 a.m.

Memorials to Racine Christian School, Racine Christian Reformed Church, or the American Cancer Society have been suggested.

A heartfelt note of thanks to the oncology nurses and physicians of Aurora – St. Luke’s Medical Center, especially Dr. Abhay Jella and the 12th-floor team; and to Aurora at Home Hospice for the compassionate care and support given in Barbara’s time of need. May God bless all of you!

Obituary and photo courtesy of Draeger-Langendorf Funeral Home.

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