20 Apr Barbara Leidholm
December 31, 1934-April 18, 2020
Barbara Ann (Linnertz) (Hopkins) Leidholm was born in Garrison, North Dakota, on December 31, 1934, to Nick and Lorraine (Robbins) Linnertz. She grew up on a farm near Ryder, North Dakota. She attended elementary school at rural Blue Hill Township School and graduated from Ryder High School in 1952. She was a petite child whose family and friends lovingly called “Pee Wee;” even as an adult, the name stuck.
Barb entered life prematurely but with a bang at a New Year’s Eve party at her cousin Pearl’s house. Among the party-goers was her future husband, Warren, six-years-old at the time; he never forgot the arrival of his favorite party crasher.
New Year’s Eve was always her favorite holiday because it doubled as her birthday. Her last birthday, her 85th, was an occasion rich in loving memories that are a source of comfort during this sad time. All six of Barb’s children, many of her grandchildren, and extended family gathered to help her celebrate her day, made even more special by also celebrating her granddaughter’s wedding.
In Barb’s early life, after graduating from high school, she worked for a Minot photographer until her marriage to Warren Leroy Hopkins on January 15, 1953, in Douglas, North Dakota. Warren and Barb started their family in Garrison where they were blessed with six children. Fond family memories and stories always involve camping trips to Medora and houseboat adventures on Lake Sakakawea at the Boat & Barge Club. Barb worked at several Garrison businesses. She was part of the St. Anne’s Altar Society at St. Nicholas Catholic Church and enjoyed attending sporting events. In addition, the Hopkins family spent many weekends in Ryder helping out at the hopping Ryder Café, owned by Barb’s mom and dad, and famous throughout the region for her dad Nick’s burgers. In 1974, Warren was diagnosed with cancer and passed away within three months leaving Barbara a widow with four kids at home. Circumstances were difficult; Barb met the challenge with determination. She provided for and protected her family as best she could. She was an imperfect hero to whom her children are forever grateful.
Barb met widower, Leo Leidholm, a McLean County farmer. On October 4, 1977, she and Leo jetted to Las Vegas to get married. She and her kids moved to Underwood to combine households with the Leidholm family. Although they lived in town, she was essentially a “farm wife”—supporting the family by cooking and caring for the combined group of 10. She was especially remembered for her homemade buns. In Underwood, she worked at Walther’s Hardware Store, was involved in the Ladies Aid and read scripture at St. Bonaventure Catholic Church and was a member at Underwood’s Golf Club. Leo and Barb were active members of the Republican party and spent legislative sessions in Bismarck for several years. In their retirement years, Barb and Leo enjoyed traveling in their motorhome.
No small part of Barb’s lasting legacy is her recovery from alcoholism. She turned her experiences into opportunities to mentor others struggling with addiction. Her leadership role in Alcoholics Anonymous and Al Anon inspired, influenced, and restored lives. In all aspects of her world, Barb was a survivor including counting twenty-plus-years as breast cancer free.
Leo passed away in 1997 and Barb moved to Minot, North Dakota, to be near her daughter, Tricia, and her family. She took on an integral role in supporting the mission of the Minot Women of the Moose and will be remembered for her exceptional volunteerism. In 2001, she moved to Grand Junction, Colorado, to be closer to her son, Jim, and his family. She again joined the Moose and was twice awarded Volunteer of the Year. Barb was also an active member of the Knights of Columbus Auxiliary at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Grand Junction. In 2010, she moved back to Bismarck to be closer to her children, Nikki, Lola, Larry and their families. Through the years, Barb enjoyed her frequent visits to California to spend time with her daughter, Sandi, and her family.
Barb enjoyed attending grandkids’ activities, walking, reading, playing piano (although she wanted to master the piano, she never quite did), dancing and painting. She considered ice cream an essential element of any celebration. Any day could be improved with a Wendy’s Frosty. After suffering a stroke, Barb moved to St. Vincent’s Care Center. The constants during her transition to a new home were family and Frostys. A visit to Mom meant arriving with a frozen treat or two. Her caregivers valued her sense of humor; her family valued St. Vincent’s staff. They were with her at the end, as was her devoted daughter Nikki, who sat by her bedside until the Lord called his faithful servant home.
The COVID 19 pandemic has altered plans for Barb’s funeral and burial. She had made arrangements to donate her body to the University of North Dakota Medical Sciences Center. It was her longtime desire to make a meaningful contribution to the wellbeing of others even in death. She derived comfort from the thought of helping advance medical research. She also joked it was her ticket to finally get into college. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, her final wish cannot be fulfilled. Nonetheless, the spirit of her intent is honored by current and future physicians, including a granddaughter who is a second year medical student at UND.
A celebration of life service for Barbara Leidholm will be held in the future when gatherings are allowed and family can freely give hugs. At that time, she will be buried next to her first husband, Warren Hopkins, at St. Nicholas Cemetery, Garrison, North Dakota.
Barbara is survived by her daughters, Nikki (Bob) Gilbertson, Bismarck, ND; Sandi (Glenn) Fandrick, California; Tricia (Brian) Zietz, Montana; Lola (Bob) Weichel, Bismarck, ND; sons Jim (Tammy) Hopkins, Colorado; and Larry (Pam) Hopkins, Bismarck, ND; brother, Darrell (Kay) Linnertz, Minot, ND; stepchildren, Dan (Gail) Leidholm, Coleharbor, ND; Tim (Deb) Leidholm, Coleharbor, ND; Vicki Leidholm, Idaho; Dale (Tracy) Leidholm, Colorado; and Mike (Cindy) Leidholm, Wisconsin; fourteen grandchildren; thirteen great grandchildren; numerous nieces, nephews, step grandchildren and step great grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her parents, her two husbands, four brothers and one sister.