Barbara Jean Griffiths (Thompson) was born October 10, 1932 in Decatur IL, and passed away June 16, 2021 at home in Urbana, IL. She was preceded in death by her parents Lloyd & Willard Thompson, infant son Robert, sister Iva Leonardelli, son-in-law Carl Crusius & most of her family. She is survived by daughter Vickie & son-in-law Robert DeShong, grandchildren Julian Hoban, Melody Hoban & Shawn Costley, great granddaughter Alexis 'Barbara Jean' Costley (her namesake), nephews, nieces and friends whom she all adored. Memorial Service will be at Wesley United Methodist Church (Covid protocol), 1203 W. Green St. Urbana, IL at 1:00 p.m. June 30, 2021. Burial will follow at Mt. Olive Cemetery, Mayview IL.
Barbara received her Bachelor's degree in Education from Illinois State University & her Master's degree from the University of Illinois. She retired from private & public teaching after 35+ years in secondary and higher education, having taught English, Speech, Theatre, World Literature & Art. She wrote, produced, directed and acted in hundreds of plays, musicals and shows throughout her professional career, most notably with a long run as Mary Magdalene & Herodias in 'The American Passion Play', Bloomington, IL, while being their Dramatic Director. She also owned & operated, Playhouse Lane School of Dramatic Arts and taught at Millikin University. She founded W.U.H.S. radio station for students to learn broadcasting, especially football game announcing. Having illuminated so many students along the way, she successfully mentored many to reach their highest goals of becoming a professional in their field. Several achieved world wide fame & notoriety. She was affectionately dubbed 'Mrs. G.' by her students at Urbana High School where she officially retired from her teaching career.
Barbara was an avid fan of The Illini, The Cubs & The Chicago Bears (her father played on the Staley's team when he worked there as a chemist after WWI). Her passion for Broadway plays & live theater led her on many traveling journeys. Time in the mountains was a favorite retreat of hers. Her dogs brought her an abundance of peace, joy & love. Family was her focus. She lived through 16 U.S. Presidents. Barbara lit up a room by her mere presence & with her bubbly personality, & could carry on a conversation no matter what your interests, politics or profession. She topped the charts as highly intelligent with a great sense of humor, was the epitome of unconditional love & truly an amazing soul! Now, through it all and though the footlights have dimmed to a fade, her final curtain call has been made. Her starry memory will forever shine in the spotlight of life as we carry on her legacy, while she proudly directs us from the heavens...Because in Barbara's own words, "The show must go on!" Condolences may be sent at www.renner-wikoffchapel.com