Barbara Faye Kuchenmeister was born (Barbara Faye Belcher) in Dorton, Kentucky on May 10, 1936. Dorton is a small town not so far from Jenkins, deep in the Appalachian mountains of Kentucky. Barbara’s father did not hold the traditional job of a coal miner. Rather, he was a storekeeper.
Her childhood years were good and the family lived as well off as anybody. At the age of thirteen Barbara Faye’s life changed greatly after the sudden loss of her father and the sole income provider for the entire family. Almost instantly Barbara’s older siblings began leaving home to start their own families and to find jobs to support themselves, wherever they could.
Barbara Faye skipped a grade in school, because she could. Barbara graduated Flemming High School just a few weeks after her 17th birthday, in June 1953. Shortly after high school, Barbara Faye moved to Michigan. She, like many in her family, went to Michigan because it was the 1950s and that’s where the jobs were. Barbara would meet her husband (Wayne Frederick Kuchenmeister) in Michigan. They were introduced to each other by Wayne’s close friend and coworker Mac (Clarence McPeek), Barbara’s brother in-law.
Barbara Faye and Wayne were married on February 12, 1955 in Jenkins, Kentucky. The two began a traditional family, raising three children in the suburbs of Detroit. When their third child was born, Wayne founded an electric supply business in his home town of Mount Clemens, where Barbara Faye would begin working part time. Barbara also began to attend college, part time. Ultimately, Barbara Faye would have to put her family first and attending college on hold.
As their children graduated from school, Barbara Faye and Wayne purchased the family cabin located in Indian River, Michigan. Eventually, the couple would spend entire summers at this cabin for the remainder of their years. They shared this second home with just about anyone they could, including annual visits of the entire church youth group, who would join them annually in early August and camp out on the lawn.
Meanwhile, Barbara continued to enroll in college courses, whenever she could. She received her Associates of Arts Degree from Macomb Community College in May 1984, at the age of forty-eight.
Barbara Faye always wanted to be a teacher. She began ministering the church youth group and continued this many years. Her favorite method of teaching included the use of a visual “flannel board”. The youth group fondly named Barbara the “Flannel Board Lady”, a title that she wore proudly. Barbara Faye’s efforts were so inspirational that the local paper picked up on the story and published an article about her. Ironically, the newspaper writer mixed Barbara’s name with the woman who had inspired Barbara in her own youth. Note: The names in the newspaper story versus the caption names below.
By this time Barbara Faye longed for more college education. In 1993, well after her children had taken over Wayne’s business, Barbara Faye rejoined the college campus full-time at age 57. Her bold decision startled Wayne a bit, because he was looking forward to his own retirement. On entry to college full-time, Barbara was promptly inducted into the National Honor Society. Barbara Faye graduated Rochester Christian College on May 6th 1995 with a Bachelor’s Degree It was four days before her 59th birthday.
At that time, Barbara Faye seriously considered some professional teaching opportunities offered to her, but ultimately chose to live out the rest of her time in retirement with Wayne. They both lived a full life well into their 70s.
In March of 2010 Barbara Faye lost her husband Wayne, the love of her life after fifty-five years of marriage. And finally, on July 21, 2015 Barbara Faye passed away, as a result of complications caused by cancer.
Barbara Faye and Wayne were well respected in their community and contributed quietly to many causes.