Cover photo for Barbara J. Stemlar's Obituary
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Barbara J. Stemlar

December 16, 1933 — December 4, 2023


Barbara J. Stemlar

Barbara J. Stemlar, 89, a resident of Davenport, IA, died peacefully in Davenport on December 4, 2023. Funeral and burial services will be private. Halligan-McCabe-DeVries Funeral Home assisted the family with arrangements.

Barbara (Barb/Barbie/Babs) Joyce (Cramer) Stemlar, was born December 16, 1933, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the daughter of Paul B. Cramer and Viola (Wahe) Cramer. She graduated from Immaculate Conception (I.C.) High School in 1951. In high school, Barb was known to be an athlete in a time when organized sports for women was not de rigueur. She excelled as a cheerleader for the I.C. boys basketball team, was an expert ping-pong player and was well-known for her love of tap dancing and competitive dance tournaments. After high school, she attended Mount Mercy College in Cedar Rapids. She was a telephone operator for Northwestern Bell Telephone and in 1954 was prominently featured as the cover-girl for an advertising campaign highlighting “career girls” and the emergence of women in the workplace.

In 1955, she married her junior high school sweetheart, John Stemlar. Barbara was a proud wife and instrumental in John’s business success. While simultaneously supporting her husband’s career, Barb served as the CEO, COO and CFO of The Stemlar Family, originating in Cedar Rapids, IA in 1955 before permanently relocating to Davenport, IA, in 1959.  Still in operation today, The Stemlar Family prospered under the governance, rules, regulations and policies established by Barb, at times, communicated by strategically placed notes around the company. For example, “close back door – squirrels” or “clear lint tray after each load - fire” and “never use the trash compactor – smelly”. Barb exhibited strategic and fiscal acumen by always approving the purchase of such things as “books for her kids”, and “keeping confidences”, such as showing up “unannounced” as the chaperone of a high school dance. For company “security”, she religiously monitored the nightly whereabouts of her children and their associates with a police scanner strategically placed by her bed. She made sure The Stemlar Family prioritized “giving back to the community” and was a dedicated volunteer at Cinderella’s Cellar, a resale shop in Davenport, operated by members of the Catholic Service Board, and the Kahl Home. Above all, she relished in the success and the achievements of her five children, seven grandchildren and three great grandchildren – including, being a regular volunteer and spectator at little league and girls’ softball games, high school athletics at Davenport West and Assumption High Schools, Iowa Hawkeye football games, ensuring their Catholic education and matriculating five University of Iowa college graduates. Barb was always a good sport, an occasional partner in crime, generous friend, sister, wife and mother and a success in her ultimate passion – The Stemlar Family.

Those left to cherish her memory, include her children, Mike Stemlar, Davenport; Tom Stemlar, Indianapolis; Kathy (John) Weigand, Glen Ridge, NJ; Sharon Theuerkauf, Bettendorf; and Anne Stemlar, Boston, Mass.; grandchildren, Elizabeth (Alex), Patrick (Brooke), Jack, Sidney, Grace, April and Nick; great-grandchildren, Noah, Parker and Beckham; brothers, Pat Cramer, Louisville, TX and Doug (Theresa) Cramer, Parker, CO;  sister-in-law, Charlene Cramer, Dyer, IN and many nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her husband of 58 years, John, her parents, her sister, Sister Mary Carol, RSM, and her brothers, Bill (Mike) Cramer and Steve Cramer.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St. Anthony’s Care and Share Program, 417 N. Main St., Davenport, IA, 52801

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Barbara J. Stemlar, please visit our flower store.


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