Barbara Blasey (now Barbara Van Akkeren)

Barbara Blasey yearbook photo

Barbara and Tom Van Akkeren photo

Barbara Van Akkeren family photo

What an assignment! How do you summarize the past 50 years of your life without waxing on ad nauseum and using up a significant amount of space on the website? It’s a challenge limiting our annual Christmas letter to one page! So here goes…!

Tom and I (married for 40 years) have lived in 3 states together: Traverse City, Michigan, (10 years) Houston, Texas (34 years) and now Denver, Colorado. We relocated to a northern Denver suburb a year ago to be closer to our two sons and their families who live nearby. We have two grandkids and a 3rd due in September. Our sons also have 4 “fur kids” between them! We have a terrific view of the mountains from our deck and have only an hour’s drive to Rocky Mountain National Park.

I’ve had 3 “careers” over the years. I earned a B.S. and Master’s degree from EMU and taught at Interlochen Elementary in the Traverse City school district for 10 years. When Tom, a petroleum engineer, was transferred to Houston after a “Seven Year Paid Vacation” in T.C., I transitioned into being a Stay-at-Home Mom and community volunteer for 12 years. When a staff opening became available at our church, (eventually growing to 2,000 members) I accepted the offer and filled a variety of administrative roles over the next 20 years. I retired in 2013 and have spent my summers helping our granddaughter get to swim practice and enjoying the cooler, drier weather in Colorado.

For fun I enjoy reading, gardening, cooking, singing in the church choir and traveling. Together we’ve toured most of the U.S. and 3 other continents, with more trips on our “Bucket List”. We enjoy winter sports, swimming and cycling. I competed in 10 sprint triathlons over a span of 8 years, finishing with 2 races when I turned 65. Sally Brooks and I have stayed in touch over the years. In 1974 we went to Vail to ski over spring break. We had a great time and planned a cross-country camping trip that summer, visiting as many National Parks as possible from South Dakota to California…in her Gremlin…in only 3 weeks!! I’ll never forget a retiree in an Air Stream trailer at a Yosemite campground who came over to chat with us. He marveled at our system for storing our camping gear. I told him that we had assigned spots for everything and always stored the fry pan under the driver’s seat. He shook his head in amazement as he returned to his huge trailer!

I look forward to seeing all of you again and hearing about your amazing adventures!