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Thomas A Barta

Thomas A Barta

Thomas A Barta died peacefully from complications of Parkinson's Disease the morning of May 16th, 2019 at 83 years old in Ames, Iowa. He was, as always, surrounded by family and friends. He will be remembered for his dry wit, kindness, and slow chuckle.

Born to Agnes and Arnold Barta in Cedar Rapids, on June 29, 1935, Tom's childhood was filled with gardening, fishing, and the odd pet squirrel. High school introduced him to his first love, music, which in turn led him to his beloved wife, Sheryl, who he spotted over the top of his trumpet one day in band practice. They married in 1958 and together, they took on the entire world: Iowa and well-beyond.

Tom's life was defined by education, from completing his PhD while working full time to support his family to the way he connected with his students during his IMSE professorship at Iowa State University, which spanned four decades. Sabbaticals in Juneau, Singapore, and Dallas helped satisfy his curiosity for the world and interest in lifelong learning, although Iowa would always be his home base.

Minnesota, too, was a special place, where he planted 55,000 trees and spent summers teaching nearly every member of his family to fish on Lake Mantrap.

His love for tennis introduced him to many of his wonderful friends and launched numerous experiences. Tom liked to recall a notable moment standing side-by-side with Stefan Edberg in a Wimbledon bathroom.

The last years of his life were brightened by his relationship with Vicki Cordes.

Tom is preceded by his parents, sister Carol Farley, brother-in-law Dick Farley, wife Sheryl, and dog Josie.

He is survived by his daughters, Laura Barta and Chris Barta, niece and nephew Keith Farley and Sue Farley Smith, son-in-law Ted Jastrzebski, grandchildren Andy Fullhart, Julie Fullhart, Anne Jastrzebski and Jacob Jastrzebski, his partner Vicki Cordes, and an incredible network of friends.

Service and reception were held Sunday, May 19 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Ames, 1015 North Hyland Avenue, Ames IA 50014.

In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation in Tom's memory to the Big Mantrap Lake Association, 28538 Junco Dr, Nevis MN 56467; Michael J Fox Foundation; or the Nature Conservancy.