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January 20, 1952 – December 16, 2023
On December 16th, Barb lost her long-fought battle with Parkinson’s Disease and Lewy Body Dementia. She passed away quietly in her own home surrounded by family.
Barb was born on Staten Island to loving parents Audrey (Moeller) deLeon, who worked for Chase Bank in downtown Manhattan, and her father Richard deLeon, a WWII veteran and manager at GEON on Long Island, New York. In her early years she, her parents, sisters, and grandmothers settled in Huntington, New York. There, Barb attended Elwood School District. During those years Barb enjoyed music, playing piano and clarinet, but concentrating on alto saxophone, playing in the jazz and stage bands. She was awarded honors for her music from NYSSMA and was a member of the academic Honor Society. She also enjoyed earning many Brownie and Girl Scout badges.
Barb met her soulmate, George Zima, when she was 17 and he was 19, while they were both working for her father at GEON, an automobile parts exporter, during the summer of 1969.
Barb received her undergraduate degree in education from SUNY Fredonia, spending a semester studying abroad in Denmark. During her senior year in college true love prevailed, George proposed, and they married on October 5, 1974. Settling in Rochester, New York, they purchased their house in 1977, which remained their home. Barb continued her studies at Nazareth College, earning her masters in reading education.
Barb and George enjoyed traveling to visit friends and family, camping, and an extensive road trip westward to Yellowstone, the Rocky Mountains, and many other stops along the way.
Barb settled into her career as a teacher in the Rush-Henrietta School District. She and George decided to start a family, welcoming their son David in 1979, and daughter Sarah in 1982. Barb focused on taking care of and raising her children, and as they started attending school, she resumed teaching. First at Rush Nursery School, then for the remainder of her career in the Honeoye Falls-Lima Central School District. Retiring from her teaching career in 2008, her devotion to children’s learning and development continued with volunteer work in classrooms and helping other dedicated teachers.
Outside the classroom, Barb spread her passion for literacy playing an active part in the Rush Library’s Children’s reading programs and Story Hour. For many years Barb was the Sunshine Person at her church offering compassion to congregation members at troubled times. She was also a creative Girl Scout leader for six years.
The story of Barb’s life would not be complete without mention of her love of playful silliness. Quick to laugh, and also quick to say “yes!” to dessert. This nature of hers was apparent whenever around children. It did not matter whether it was new students, new friends, or her own grandchildren; Barb’s love and affinity for children shined.
Barb’s legacy to those that knew her will be that of gentle kindness. Empathetic, loving, and humble, Barb touched so many with a purity of spirit that was rare. She saw the potential for good in people. To so many Barb said, “I believe in you”, and then she would help until the time came when she could say “I knew you could”. We will remember and love her always.
Survived by her loving husband of 49 years, George Zima of Rush New York, son David (Ashley) Zima of Webster, New York, daughter Sarah (Tom Perry) Zima of Manhattan, New York; grandchildren Charlotte (6), Emilie (2), and Eleanor (2) Zima, and Winston Perry (4); sisters Janet Giaccio and Carol Tyson of Long Island, New York.
Friends and family may call THURSDAY December 21, 2023 from 4-6 at Miller Funeral and Cremation Services, Inc. (3325 Winton Rd. S, Rochester, NY 14623). Service and Cremation private.
In honor of Barb’s love and dedication to children and reading, in lieu of flowers, you may consider a donation in her memory to:
Read to Them
2201 West Broad Street, Suite 206
Richmond, VA 23220