Obituary: Barbara L. Kokemueller, 63

Barbara (Lahm) Kokemueller, formerly Barbara Klump, died peacefully at home in Danbury, CT, on Tuesday, May 22, after a lengthy and courageous bout with breast cancer. She was 63-years-old.

Born Barbara Elaine Lahm on June 29, 1954, in Jamaica, Queens, she was the third of four children of Martin and Helen Lahm. The family lived for a short time in Cambria Heights before settling in Sands Point, NY, where Barbara attended local public schools and took private lessons in music, dancing, and her favorite childhood pastime, horseback riding.

Barbara’s fondness for animals was universal, forged at an early age caring for family pets, nurtured in the paddock, and sustained as a lifelong pet parent to foster and rescue cats. While growing up, she also developed a talent for cooking and gardening from her mother, a longing to travel and explore from her sister, Emilie, and a love of sports from her brother, Martin. Barbara was particularly fond of playing tennis and watching baseball, and remained an avid fan of the New York Mets throughout her life.

Barbara graduated from Paul D. Schreiber High School (Port Washington, NY) in 1972 and earned her associate’s degree from the Katharine Gibbs School (New York, NY) in 1974. She then worked for several years as an executive secretary in the Securities Department of Rockefeller Center.

In 1979 she married her first husband, Jim, and in 1980 moved to Stamford, CT, to become a stay-at-home-mom with her two sons, born in 1981 and 1983, respectively. Barbara and her family relocated in 1984 to Wilton, CT, where, once her sons were old enough to see themselves home from school, she went back to work and became a community fixture at the Wilton Sport Shop, helping customers there for more than two decades.

Just before Thanksgiving in 2005 Barbara was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. Following two surgeries and two years of aggressive treatments, her doctors pronounced her cancer-free; however, the cancer returned, having metastasized to her bones. Undeterred by her condition, Barbara survived with cancer for over 12 years — through two more surgeries and many courses of radiation and chemotherapy — continuing to work, travel, and enjoy life with friends, family, and her second husband, Scott, whom she married in 2008. She also actively participated in the fight to cure cancer, supporting the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and the St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

Barbara is survived by her two sons, Christopher J. Klump of Bethlehem, PA, and Jason M. Klump of Halifax, VT; her sister and brother-in-law, Emilie and Hermann Nesper of Germany; her sister-in-law, Linda Lahm of St. Croix, USVI; her brother, Kenneth Lahm of Tilton, NH; two nephews, two nieces, two grandnephews, five grandnieces, and her beloved cat, Max. She is also survived by two ex-husbands, H. Scott Kokemueller of Bethel, CT, and James W. Klump of Amsterdam, NY. Barbara was predeceased by her mother, Helen (Bauer) Lahm, in 2001; her father, Martin L. Lahm, in 1993; and her brother, Martin L. Lahm Jr., in 1989.

A memorial gathering to celebrate Barbara’s life will be held on Saturday, June 2, at the Bouton Funeral Home in Georgetown (31 West Church Street, Wilton, CT 06897), with quiet reflection from 1-2 p.m. and a service to follow.

In lieu of flowers, it is Barbara's wish that her family and friends carry on her legacy of charitable giving by supporting one of her favorite causes: children’s health and safety, animal rights and wildlife preservation, or veterans’ benefits.