Obituary for Dr. Barbara Helen LeRose
December 18, 1933 – August 13, 2023
Dr. Barbara Helen LeRose died peacefully on Aug. 13, 2023, at the Kathy Hospice in West Bend, Wis. She was born on Dec. 18, 1933, in Racine, Wis. to the late Raymond and Cecile Cain. Barbara was a passionate, complex and accomplished woman. Her life’s biggest devotion was education – both her community’s and her own. She received her Undergraduate Degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and her Master’s and Doctoral Degrees in Educational Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Her greatest professional contribution was as co-creator of The Lighthouse Project, an innovative curriculum and strategy for gifted education in the Racine Unified School District that began in 1974, spearheaded by Dr. LeRose and Linda King. Funded as a multi-million dollar grant through Title III., Dr. LeRose and Ms. King created a team of educators, artists, scientists and researchers to collaboratively determine how to increase critical thinking and creativity not only among students identified as gifted but among their peers as well. The program was successfully carried out at Jefferson Lighthouse School until the early 2000s.
Dr. LeRose’s reports on the impacts of the project continue to be cited in academic and peer-reviewed research to this day, and while active, The Lighthouse Program was regularly the subject of teaching visits for gifted educators from across the state and around the nation. Dr. LeRose traveled both nationally and internationally to present her findings, and Jerry Fletcher, a Senior Education Policy Analyst for the federal government, described what became known as Dr. LeRose’s “Thinking Curriculum” as “thirty years ahead of its time.”
Thousands of Racine Public School students completed the Lighthouse Program during its over-30-year run, including several of Barbara’s own grandchildren. For her four decades of work in gifted education, Dr. LeRose was named to the Southeastern Wisconsin Educators Hall of Fame in 1999. Additionally, she shares the distinction of being the only mother-son pair in the St. Catherine’s Hall of Fame, alongside her eldest son, the distance runner, Charles LeRose.
Barbara leaves behind many loving family members, including her son, John LeRose Jr. (Joan) of Milwaukee, daughter, Grace LeRose of Richmond, Va., son, Paul LeRose (Deanna) of Cary, Ill., son, James (Sue) LeRose of Racine, daughter, Catherine (Vince) LeRose of Addison, Wis., daughter-in-law, Christine LeRose, and her brother, Jerry Cain of Waupaca, Wis. In addition, she leaves behind her grandchildren, Stephen LeRose, Aaron LeRose, Anthony LeRose, John LeRose III, Brianna LeRose, Bessie LeRose, Ashley Meyers, and Justin Meyers; as well as many beloved nieces and nephews, great-grandchildren, and sisters-in-law.
She is preceded in death by her husband, John LeRose Sr., her son, Chuck LeRose, and her sister-in-law, Carol Cain. For the last fifteen years, Barbara lived a very comfortable life with her daughter, Cathy and her partner, Vince in Allenton, Wis., where she never had to cook for herself, thank God.
Visitation will be from 10-11 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 7, at St. Lucy Catholic Church, 3101 Drexel Ave., in Racine. A Catholic Mass will take place at 11 a.m. In lieu of flowers, memorials in Barbara’s name to the Milwaukee Rescue Mission are greatly appreciated. Finally, we imagine Barbara would like for us to end this obituary with a plea for all people everywhere to fight for the right to quality public education. Now go have a piece of pie for breakfast, Barb. You earned it.
Obituary and photo of Dr. Barbara Helen LeRose courtesy of Maresh-Meredith & Acklam Funeral Home.