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Born in Tacoma, Washington April 30 1921, Barbara Sabovich lived a life not settling for just meeting expectations - she preferred to exceed them on her own scale. Going to college when it was still eye brow raising for women to seek higher education, her tenacity continued throughout her entire life. When she was 9, her family consisting of her parents Fred and Blanche Oberer, and sisters Evelyn and Bettie, moved to Caliente to seek warm, dry weather for her father who had emphysema. They lived in a two room house with no running water, later her father built them a house made out of telephone poles. Although they were poor and her father was sick, he refused to stop working and would have no part of a “hand out”. It was from her father she learned the lessons that would drive her the rest of her life. When her parents divorced when she was 14, she remained with her father in Caliente attending Bakersfield High. They moved to Porterville where she graduated from Porterville High in 1939. When she graduated she had no money, wanted to continue her education but didn’t know how. She had taken typing and shorthand in high school and used those skills to get a job working for former Kern County Superintendent of Education, Leo B Hart. Her charm and intelligence was recognized by Leo B Hart who encouraged her to go to college and become a teacher. He even promised her a job as soon as she returned with a degree. She enrolled in Bakersfield College, started her studies, and was crowned “bond queen” for selling $2450.00 in war bonds and stamps. World War II inadvertently jump started her collegiate career. After the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, the government needed men with construction experience- Fred Oberer, her father had that experience and would send his entire paycheck to his daughter so she could go to school. She enrolled at Fresno State Teachers College, now Fresno State, and breezed through in three years. Hart kept his word, and she started working at Vineland School teaching third grade then taking a bus down the street to “Weedpatch School” - a school developed by Hart for the children of the Dust Bowl living at the Weedpatch campground. Hart assembled the best teachers he could find for Weedpatch School, and she was proud to be among them. Teaching girls practical chemistry, they learned how to make cold cream and sew. She understood the children’s situation and never treated them differently. When she was 25, she would meet her future husband, Robert J. Sabovich, a navy pilot. The couple married two years later in 1948, moving to Arvin where Robert (Bob) owned a vineyard. She stopped working One year later when they had their first child Christine, followed by Karen, Robert, David, and Madeline. She returned to teaching in 1968, and went on to earn her Masters Degree from Cal State Bakersfield at age 50 1976. She stopped teaching in 1980 when Bob bought a vineyard in Mexico. They returned home in 1991 when Bob had developed a brain tumor, dying in 1992. At 71, she wondered what she would now do with her life and having no desire to waste time doing nothing, she was encouraged by their friends in Mexico to take a stab at the ag industry. She was intrigued, but knew nothing about produce brokerage. She sought out help from friends in the ag business, and later in 1992 she formed “Sabo International” trading almonds, pistachios, and maraschino cherries. Her oil paintings kept her busy as well - and remain a prized possession by many. Her passion for work and staying active continued until she was 97 years old. When asked what her secret was to looking and staying young - she’d give you that sly little grin and say “ Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll.”
Mom was preceded in death by the tragic deaths of 3 of her children - Robert (2009) David (2013)and Christy (2017) , but rejoiced in the birth of her great grandchildren Luke, Hank, and Cora. Their love and compassion for her kept her young and feisty.
Survived by daughter Madeline and husband John Hahn, grandchildren Corinne Pettit, husband Justin and great grand children Luke, Hank, and Cora, grandson Meyer Wilson, and daughter Karen Landers, as well as grandchildren Tanner and Bianca Lauderbach, and son-in-law, Terry Boylan.
Nonie, Mom, and friend to so many, she left an impression with everyone she met, and was truly a remarkable woman.
Visitation is scheduled Thursday Jan. 9 from 3:00 - 6:00 p.m. at Doughty-Calhoun-O'Meara. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Friday Jan. 10 at 11:00 a.m. at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church.
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