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Pro life pioneer Barbara Willke dead at 90

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Barbara Willke is pictured with her husband Dr. John Willke in September 1995. Barbara Willke died Sunday night at the age of 90. (CT PHOTO)
Barbara Willke, left, is pictured with her husband Dr. John Willke in September 1995. Barbara Willke died Sunday night at the age of 90. (CT PHOTO)

Staff Report

Cincinnati Right to Life reported on its website Monday that Barbara Willke, co-founder along with her husband Dr. John Willke and former chairman of the organization for 28 years, died at the age of 90 Sunday night. The report said Willke died peacefully at Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati, after suffering a head injury as the result of a fall. Funeral arrangements are  pending.

The National Right to Life website also has a posting on Mrs. Willke’s death, calling her instrumental in the founding of Cincinnati Right to Life.

“Mrs. Willke was a woman of courage and intelligence whose lifelong commitment to preserving the sanctity of human life is a moving legacy,” Executive Director of Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati Paula Westwood said. “No one can fill her shoes.”

The Cincinnati Right to Life report notes that Willke was mother to six, and grandmother to 22 in addition to serving as foster mother to several teenagers. She held B.S. and R.N. degrees from the University of Cincinnati, College of Nursing & Health and was awarded an honorary doctorate from St. Mary-of-the-Woods College and Xavier University.

With Dr. Willke, Mrs. Willke co-authored 12 books. The pair would have been married for 65 years this June.

The website Lifenews.com referred to Mrs. Willke as “the godmother of the modern-day pro-life movement.”

The full press release from Cincinnati Right to Life is included below.

With great sadness, Cincinnati Right to Life mourns the loss of Mrs. Barbara Willke, who served as co-founder along with her husband and as chairman of the organization for 28 years. She died peacefully Sunday night at Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati, after suffering a severe head injury due to a fall. Funeral arrangements are pending.

“Mrs. Willke was a woman of courage and intelligence whose lifelong commitment to preserving the sanctity of human life is a moving legacy,” said Paula Westwood, Executive Director Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati. “No one can fill her shoes.”
Barbara Willke was a beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and internationally known author, lecturer, and expert in human sexuality. She held B.S. and R.N. degrees from the University of Cincinnati, College of Nursing & Health, plus graduate studies at University of Dayton.

Mother of six, grandmother of 22, foster mother of several teenagers, Barbara headed the Department at the College of Nursing for five years before her full-time career as wife and mother. She is the wife of Dr. John Willke, past president of National Right to Life, president, Life Issues Institute and president emeritus, International Right to Life Federation. They would have been married for 65 years this June.

With Dr. Willke, Barbara co-authored twelve books on human sexuality and abortion. Together they created audio and visual materials that were proven to be basic teaching tools throughout the world. Their materials have been translated into 30 languages on all five continents. She and Dr. Willlke frequently appeared on radio and TV shows. They have spoken in 64 different countries.

Mrs. Willke was awarded honorary doctorates from St. Mary-of-the-Woods College and, along with Dr. Willke, Cincinnati’s Xavier University.
Congressman Henry Hyde’s words bring to mind Barbara Willke:
“When the time comes, as it surely will, when we face that awesome moment, the final judgment, I’ve often thought, as Fulton Sheen wrote, that it is a terrible moment of loneliness. You have no advocates, you are there alone standing before God — and a terror will rip your soul like nothing you can imagine. But I really think that those in the pro-life movement will not be alone. I think there’ll be a chorus of voices that have never been heard in this world but are heard beautifully and clearly in the next world — and they will plead for everyone who has been in this movement. They will say to God, ‘Spare him, because he loved us!'”

 

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