Barbara Ann Jirsa

Obituary of Barbara Ann Jirsa

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Our dear Barbara Ann Jirsa, 62, passed away peacefully surrounded by friends and family on January 2, from complications of leiomyosarcoma. One of Barbara’s first daring adventures was at 18 years old, traveling on her own by Greyhound bus from suburban Chicago to attend the University of California Santa Cruz in 1979, sight unseen. There she soon met Sean Michael Monaghan, the love of her life, and Santa Cruz became her home. Barbara was the third child of four born to Alfred Raymond Jirsa, a third-generation Union bricklayer, and Susan Joy (Mayer) Jirsa, a homemaker. Her childhood was surrounded by many aunts, uncles, cousins and siblings in her father’s hometown of Lombard and in nearby Glen Ellyn. In 1979 Barbara graduated summa cum laude from Glenbard West High School (her father’s and siblings’ school) and was offered a full scholarship to UCSC. Her future husband noticed her on their first day of classes as her long legs strode across the beautiful Redwood campus, navigating enrollment and registration. They met the next day when Sean spotted her again on the open-air Banana Slug shuttle, climbed aboard and remarked upon her Oxford University t-shirt. They soon became inseparable college sweethearts. A woman of many talents, Barbara excelled in drawing and piano, and in four years took her degree in History with a minor in Music, graduating with College Honors. Upon graduation, Barbara began working part time at Westside health food store the Food Bin, eventually becoming the store’s trusted bookkeeper and part-owner, while also fashion-modeling and playing in an 80’s ‘techno’ band that toured the state. She also supported Sean’s downtown Santa Cruz café Donatello’s, helping him to open twelve locations in Tokyo, Japan in 1986. After nine years together, Barbara and Sean married on March 18th, 1989, in the historic chapel of the First Church of Lombard where her parents had been wed by the same minister 32 years earlier. Barbara looked beautiful in her mother’s original wedding gown. The couple honeymooned by taking a trip ‘around the world in 80 days’, visiting Japan, Thailand, India, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy. They returned just in time for the devastating Loma Prieta Earthquake of 1989 and began to rebuild their lives: Barbara earned a Music degree from UCSC, and Sean opened the Bronze Works Fine Art Foundry. In 1985 one of Barbara’s teachers referred a student to her out of the blue, and thus Barbara began to teach piano. She devoted herself to learning the best teaching practices. She was active in the local branch of the California state Music Teachers Association, alternating between the office of President and Treasurer. They remodeled their home to accommodate a pair of grand pianos and a large audience for recitals, traveling musicians and many wonderful house concerts. Barbara also loved to sing, and in the summer of 1994, Barbara toured Eastern Europe with the Cabrillo College Choir. The choir performed in Karlo Vivary (Carlsbad), Prague, Warsaw, Kracow and Budapest. Older sister Beverly came along to applaud. Barbara continued to teach piano during the pandemic by adapting to Zoom lessons but was glad to get back to her beloved students in person. All her life Barbara loved the outdoors, tent camping with her family at Devil’s Lake and Peninsula Park, Wisconsin, hikes through the redwoods, Sean’s family cabin in Sonoma/Mendocino, and a membership at the UCSC Arboretum. In 2009 she had the time of her life white-water rafting down the Colorado River for two weeks. She loved playing Pinochle, drawing, playing piano, birdwatching, cooking, dogs, horses, reading and rising early to watch the sun rise while walking along the ocean cliffs of Santa Cruz near her home. Barbara is survived by her husband Sean, sisters Beverly and Laura, brother Douglas (Marie), their children Valerie, Nick and Shannon; her in-laws Lois Tousey and Pat Monaghan, sister-in-law Jet Flannery (Terry), her children Taylor (Shicole) and Madeleine. Barbara’s kindness, generosity, wit, wisdom and truly fun spirit will be greatly missed by her extended family and many friends. A memorial service is being planned for the Spring and will be announced.
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We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at Santa Cruz Mission Chapel
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Barbara Ann Jirsa

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Barbara Ann Jirsa

1961 - 2024

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