Barbara K. Chu

November 8, 1949 - May 17, 2023
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Barbara K. Chu

Barbara K. Chu was the firstborn child of Edward H. Koehler and Louise Anderwald Koehler, born November 8, 1949 in San Antonio, Texas. Her four younger siblings Shirley, Edward, Richard, and Paula joined the family as the Koehlers moved through multiple postings for Edward Sr.’s career in the U.S. Air Force. Barbara was raised in and attended schools at many locations, including San Antonio,TX; South Dakota; Savannah, GA; and the longest duration in Plattsburg, NY where she loved the stability of attending St. John’s Academy between grades 5 – 11. It was there that she met and befriended Sara Kelly and Karen Phifer, who became life-long friends. The family moved back to Texas during Barbara’s Senior year due to Edward Sr. retiring from military service, and she graduated from senior high school in Beeville, TX. Despite the disruptions of moving many times during childhood, she studied ballet throughout her youth and always loved to find quiet spots to read.

Inspired by her desire to work in the space program, Barbara attended Texas A&I University, graduating in just three years with a Bachelors in Mathematics in 1970. Her hard work and diligence earned her a scholarship to Michigan State University, where she earned a Masters in Applied Mathematics in 1972. She had very fond memories of her exciting adventure abroad during the summer break of 1971 with her life-long friend Karen Phifer Mayer, backpacking through Europe.

After graduation, she received multiple job offers from aerospace companies in Southern California, including Lawrence Livermore Labs and TRW Space Systems. Barbara worked for 10 years at TRW in Redondo Beach, CA as a systems engineer, mostly doing computer programming and simulations. She also worked on missile defense, communications satellites, and for the EPA.

At this time, Barbara met John Chu, who also worked at TRW. Their relationship began as professional colleagues, but they soon began dating and eventually fell in love and married several years later in 1978. Their marriage took place at home in Torrance, CA in a little house where John and Barbara began their future together with friends, family, and lots of love.

After the birth of her children, Barbara dedicated her time to family. She returned to occasional engineering work after the family moved north to the San Francisco Bay Area where the children grew up, but she focused her energies on ensuring her kids had good educational opportunities and the chance to explore a variety of hobbies and activities, such as music lessons, sports, museum and aquarium trips, and many visits to libraries.

Barbara’s parents retired to Texas and the family had many happy summer vacations visiting grandparents at the lake house. She remained close with both parents. Her father, Edward, passed away in 2019. She is survived by her mother, Louise.

After John’s retirement, the couple settled in Granite Bay, California, where they were able to spend more time with each other. Barbara spent much of her time reading, and she particularly loved to sit in the garden that she lovingly maintained in order to enjoy the fragrance of the English roses which were her favorite flowers. Following the births of her two granddaughters, she enjoyed visiting with Avery and Lennon and their frequent video chats.

Barbara prioritized family and her three daughters: Ciana Becker lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband, Jeremy Becker, and their two daughters. Stephanie Chu lives in Northern California where she returned after graduating from the University of Arizona. Joanna Chu also lives in Northern California, post graduation from the University of California at Santa Cruz.

Believing in traditional Catholic doctrine, she joined the parish of St. Stephen the First Martyr Church in Sacramento where she was a devoted parishioner until her passing. At her request, a funeral Mass will be held there at 10 a.m. on June 2, 2023, presided over by Father Curtis, whom she knew personally.

Barbara passed away in her sleep on May 17, 2023 at home in Roseville, California.

Burial service will follow at 1 p.m. at the Calvary Cemetery and Funeral Center in Citrus Heights, California. A reception for family and friends will be held at the same location.

Barbara will be remembered as a devoted daughter, a caring sister, a high-achieving student, a consummate professional engineer, a loving wife, a nurturing mother and grandmother, a helpful friend, an advocate of Catholicism, and a faithful Catholic practitioner.

Donations in memory of Barbara may be made at the Food for the Poor organization, and the Sacramento Life Center.