Barbara Croft Fjeldsted

Barbara Croft Fjeldsted
1930 - 2023

Barbara Croft FjeldstedBarbara Croft Fjeldsted was born on April 6, 1930 in Kaysville, Utah to John (Jack) Croft and Lucile Ballif Croft. As the only daughter amongst three rough and tumble brothers, one older, two younger, Barbara learned quickly to be “one of the boys”. Her dad, Jack, was a great outdoorsman and the family often went camping. Jack and the boys would go off fishing, Lucile, an accomplished artist, would set up her easel and paint. Barbara was left to set up the camp, start the fire and do the cooking. Somehow, the great outdoors lost much of its appeal for Barbara. While the Croft cousins often camped, hiked and fished, the Fjeldsted family never vacationed in a tent.

Keeping up with her brothers lost its interest when Barbara started middle school and she decided it was awfully fun to go on dates. Her father gritted his teeth and welcomed the young men into his home. Before they left on the date, Jack shook each young swain’s hand, looked him straight in the eye and said, “We expect Barbara home at a reasonable hour.” While “a reasonable hour” was never defined, Barbara was astounded that none of her young men showed any desire to continue with her company once the evening’s scheduled events ended. It wasn’t until she was 22 and a senior in college that one young man admitted to her, as he flexed his sore hand, he wouldn’t dare get her home late, because her father had the strongest grip he’d ever felt!

This may explain why when Barbara graduated from Utah State Agriculture College with a degree in English and Journalism, she was still footloose and fancy free. Along with attaining excellent grades, she received an award as the college woman “who showed being able, in greatest measure, to repay the nation the investment made in them.” That potential was fulfilled during her lifetime and fifty years later she was recognized with a USU Women over 65 Achievement Award for her community service.

After graduation, Barbara spent three years as a career woman, culminating in being named the Women’s Editor of the Salt Lake Tribune. While busy at the Trib, Barbara still enjoyed the dating life and was set up on a blind date with Russ Fjeldsted. When she opened her door, he said, “Let’s blast off!”, and her fate was set. She and Russ were sealed in the Logan Temple on May 6, 1955, they remained blissfully devoted to each other for the next 68 years.

Barbara and Russ eventually settled in Logan, Utah and Russ took over the running of The Sportsman from Jack. With six kids to keep track of Barbara kept very busy, but she also was a true partner to Russ, in family, faith and business. When Russ decided they should spend a month in Alaska, it was Barbara who made sure the kids all packed coats, socks, and underwear. When six year old Patrice cried and said she wanted to take her bed, Barbara laid out all her sheets, blankets and bedspread in the back of the suburban, They remained there the entire trip, and made a lovely bed for whichever kids were lacking a seat (five seats, eight people). Barbara kept two year old Mark on her lap nearly the entire trip. As the family safety officer, at one point, she had to tell John to get off the low, stone barricade he was standing on in a one legged lean, inches from a several hundred foot drop. Through it all, somehow she kept her grace, her dignity and her sanity.

While Russ sold skis, clothing and bikes downstairs at The Sportsman, Barbara was upstairs, paying the invoices, keeping track of inventory, and somehow figuring out how to feed a family on a merchant's income. Barb was the boss herself, when she ran The Art Stop for several years. When Russ was mayor, Barbara patiently and politely listened to the complaints of citizens who had an opposing vision of the future of Logan City. When Russ was bishop of a married student ward, Barbara was the ward mom, she welcomed the young mothers to her home and they made cookies together. She taught them how to be gracious and thoughtful, listened to their woes and offered words of wisdom and comfort.

When the kids wanted to play sports or participate in musicals, she made sure they were signed up and made it to all the practices (and sometimes made the costumes). She then made sure the whole family was in attendance cheering them on.

She was the buffer between Russ and the kids. Dad had a big personality, he was like lighting a gas stove - a big woosh then the flame settled right down. Mom made sure she was there when he got upsetting news about something the kids did and she calmed him right down saying , “Now Russ…” To his credit he always listened to her and he forgave completely once he cooled off.

Barbara was also very active in the community. She served on the Board of Commissioners of the Utah Travel Council, was selected for the Utah Tourism Hall of Fame for outstanding tourist development, and was the Chair of the Utah Festival Opera Company. She served in her LDS ward, as a Relief Society President, Young Women’s President, Sunday School teacher, and many other callings. She was a Member of the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, a faithful member of the Alliance for the Varied Arts and served on the USU Women’s Center Board.

Barbara was an exemplary mother. She was determined that all the children would be prepared in case we were ever invited to eat with the President. On Sundays, the table was set with her finest china and sterling silver, we all knew to use utensils from the outside in, and to only butter the bite of bread we were eating. Our Family Home Evenings were often lessons in poetry and art. We memorized the first stanza of several poems (I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree…), studied Rembrandt’s The Night Watch, and Van Gogh’s Starry Night with Cypress. She took the girls to Ballet West’s The Nutcracker every Christmas, and was a faithful attendee of the Old Lyric Repertory Theater. She was thrilled to serve on the Opera Board, and loved attending the Operas every summer. When the grandchildren started arriving, Barbara embraced them and introduced them to her love of Anne of Green Gables. Every summer, we would dress up in our white linen, with hats and gloves and have an Anne of Green Gables tea party. As entertainment, any child who memorized a poem was invited to elocute for the guests. We heard everything from Johnny Johnny in the tub, to The Cremation of Sam McGee, while snacking on heavenly cucumber sandwiches, elegant pastries, and drinking raspberry cordial. Barbara was a surprising crafter. She never went in for the expected crafts. There were no glass grapes in our living room. Instead, she handmade oval boxes and covered them with beautiful wrapping paper and charming pictures, then filled them with treasures to give to friends and family. She sewed heart shaped cushions fashioned out of exotic fabrics on her grandmother’s foot pedal sewing machine, and made Christmas angels out of antique linens, lace and buttons.

Barbara was an avid gardener. She had a rock garden on the east side of the house, a cutting garden on the west and beautiful Japanese Anemones going up the hill to the canal. In the springtime, she had hundreds of daffodils, scilla, and peonies. The summer brought daisies, sunflowers, lavender and hollyhocks. In the nighttime, her night blooming primrose always astonished. She would have loved to have had tulips, but the darn deer kept eating them.

Barbara sorely missed Russ once he passed. He kept telling her to come with him and he finally convinced her to “Blast off” once again on August 10, 2023. She is survived by her loving children, David (Jane), Kristan, John, Paul (Patricia), Patrice (Kirk), and Mark (Holly), 20 grandchildren, and lots of great-grandchildren.

To remember and honor Barbara, donations may be made to the Jack Croft Scholarship Endowment.  The scholarship benefits students who are pursuing a degree in the Jon M. Huntsman College of Business.

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