Mom …

Barbara Jean Kobe Munger Tourville, the eldest daughter of John “Jack” Kobe and Eloise “Marie” Barber Kobe, was born on September 21, 1928, in Wadena, Minnesota. Jack, an immigrant from Slovenia, grew up and worked in the iron mines of Aurora where he met Marie¾a teacher¾while giving Marie a tour of the mine where he worked. The couple married, lived in Wadena, Iowa, and Minneapolis before settling in Duluth where Barb’s younger sister, Susanne Kobe Pederson Schuler(“Sukie”), was born.

During the 1940s and early 50s, Barb and Sukie spent late spring, summer, and early fall at the Buena Vista, a family-owned resort on Bear Island Lake near Babbitt. The Kobe girls spent many weekends with their cousins (most notably, Jim and John Sale and Lizette “Bootsie” Barber (nee Grinden)).

Barb met Harry Munger at Duluth Denfeld High School and the couple became part of a close-knit crew of Hunters; a life-long Dinner Club that included the Monsons, Lundeens, Listons, Scotts, Tessiers, and the Nelsons.

Barb completed a four-year degree in medical technology at St. Scholastica. After marrying Harry, the newlyweds moved to St. Paul where Harry attended the St. Paul College of Law and Barb worked at Miller Hospital. The couple’s eldest child, Mark, was born in St. Paul in 1954. Upon Harry’s graduation from law school, the couple returned to Duluth, built a small house on Chambersburg Avenue, and added son David and daughter Anne to the family.

Barb was unique for her time in that she was college educated and worked outside the home at the Duluth Clinic. But after David joined the family, Barb became a stay-at-home mom and pursued an interest in gardening and flower arranging and judging. She also worked on various charitable causes: the Heart Association, Piedmont PTA, March of Dimes, Planned Parenthood, and others. The Munger family joined Holy Apostles Episcopal Church where Barb taught Sunday school and supervised the youth group.

As a member of the Duluth Lawyers’ Wives, Barb traveled extensively, gathering information and touring lockups, work that culminated in the establishment of the Arrowhead Juvenile Center.

            Barb took up tennis in her thirties and played until knee surgery ended her time on the court. She joined other youthful Piedmont moms and took ski lessons at Mont du Lac. Considered an elegant downhill skier, Barb carved graceful turns under magnificent control into her late seventies. After infecting her family with the “skiing bug”, Barb and Harry skied France, Yugoslavia, Wyoming, Idaho, Colorado, Loch Lomond, Lutsen, Giant’s Ridge, Telemark, and Sugar Hills. Barb encouraged her children to join the Duluth Alpine Club and watched her kids race competitively. When Spirit Mountain opened, Barb served on the hill’s first Authority. Over the course of their marriage, Barb and Harry attended two Democratic National Conventions (and numerous local and state conventions) as delegates and alternates. She also became active in, and a proud member of, DAR.

            After thirty years of marriage, Barb and Harry divorced but remained friendly. Barb then met and married the love of her life, Duane “Duke” Tourville, a former ski jumper, avid downhiller, railroad engineer, and jazz drummer. During their marriage, Duke and Barb accompanied Wes and Shirley Neustal (owners of the Ski Hut) and other Duluthians to Montana to ski Bridger Bowl, Showdown, Red Lodge, and Big Sky.

            Duke and Barb also sailed Lake Superior in the Ransom II (Duke’s Bertram), vacationed in Europe and the Caribbean, traveled the US, and built homes in Superior, Wisconsin; on Island Lake; and a townhome on the St. Louis River in West Duluth. The couple remained active in the Episcopal Church, attending Holy Apostles (Duluth), Christ Church (Proctor), Trinity (Hermantown), and St. Paul’s (Duluth).

Barb loved hosting dinner and cocktail parties, “cutting a rug”, and enjoying Saturday afternoon jazz sessions at the Saratoga. Duke and Barb also attended the annual Red Flannels winter dinner/dance at the Kitch in the company of son Mark and daughter-in-law René.

            After Duke passed away in 2017, Barb remained in the townhouse on Bay Hill Trail. There, she met special friend and companion, Chuck Ralph. The couple enjoyed dining out, dancing, playing cribbage, and attending family gatherings. Following Chuck’s death in 2021, Barb continued to live independently until she moved to Scandia Homes in West Duluth in June of 2022. Barb later moved to Diamond Willow Assisted Living in Lester Park, residing there until her death on September 26, 2023: five days after her ninety-fifth birthday.

            Barb was preceded in death by her parents, her sister Sukie, husband Duke, ex-husband Harry, and special friend Charles “Chuck” Ralph. She is survived by her son, Judge Mark (René) Munger, son David (Diane) Munger, daughter Anne (David) Sarvela, ten grandchildren, thirteen great-grandchildren, beloved nieces Julie (Brad) Shafer, and Heidi (Nick) Kipp, numerous Kobe/Barber cousins, and oodles of friends from the Rat Pack, the Ski Hut group, DAR, and the Episcopal church.

            The family thanks the staff at Scandia Homes, St. Luke’s Hospital, the Bendictine, Ecumen, Diamond Willow, and Ecumen Hospice as well as Dr. Zach Lundstrom (and his nurse Patty) at St. Luke’s Internal Medicine for their thoughtful care of Barbara Jean.

A special thanks to Mark and Mary Bolf who watched over Barb after Duke’s passing and to Kathleen Smith and Angie Shambour who drove Barb to St. Paul’s for worship.

Visitation will take place at the Dougherty Funeral Home (600 E 2nd St, Duluth) from 5:00pm-7:00pm on 10/5/2023. A Celebration of Barb’s life will be held at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church (1710 E. Superior St., Duluth) on 10/6/2023 beginning at 11:00am.

In 2018, Barb and Sukie were present as guests of honor when Buena Vista Resort became the Northern Lights YMCA Family Camp. Memorials to the camp (YMCA of the North, P.O. Box 1450 Minneapolis, MN 55485-5901) or to the Greater Denfeld Foundation Memorial Fund (401 44th Ave W, Duluth, MN 55807) are appreciated in lieu of flowers.

About Mark

I'm a reformed lawyer and author.
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