Barbara Karlstrom

April 5, 1930 - February 9, 2020


Barbara Foster née Oleachea née Karlstrom


February 9th, 2020, our wonderful mother, Barbara Foster née Oleachea née Karlstrom, left this earth. She was the third child of Milton Glenn Foster and Alice Mae Woodard Foster and the only daughter. Her birth name was Dorothy Lee Foster but immediately became known as Barbara Lee Foster.

She was born April 5, 1930 in Merced, California joining two brothers, Gerald (Jerry) and Marion (Bud) then in quick succession one more brother, Carl. The first ten years of her life were during the Great Depression and while she didn’t talk much about those years I know life was not easy.

When she was young the family moved from California to Washington, barely over the Oregon/Washington border near Vancouver and then after another year or so moved further northwest near Aberdeen, Washington. She always called their home place Up the Wishkaw. (Near the Wishkaw River). After beginning 5th grade in Wishkaw, Washington she had many happy years even though America joined World War ll a few years later.

America entered World War ll when she was eleven years old and her father felt called to enlist. Her mom became a Rosie the Riveter and my mom and her brothers had to really step up to help the family and neighbors as well.

She married young and had us four kids, Jimmie Oleachea, William (Chip) Oleachea,

Shelley Oleachea, and Debbie Oleachea fairly close together. Even though she had many trials during this union she loved each of us kids with all of her heart. In 1960 she divorced our father and continued raising us on her own as she had already been doing for many years.

She was a very talented seamstress. Besides dresses, slacks, blouses for me and my sister she made shirts for my two brothers. She also made coats and pajamas for all of us and so much more as well. Later she started making furniture, and then photography and was as talented in both of those as she was in everything she undertook.

Mom was a bundle of joy in spite of hardships she endured along the way. She was someone who had a way of lightening your heart when in her presence. She was kind, gentle, compassionate and strong. She always had a kind word to say about others. In fact one thing she taught us as young kids was this: “If you don’t have something nice to say about someone then don’t say anything at all”. Her advice has stood me well over the years.

She loved being in Nature and she loved to travel, discovering new things and new places.

As mentioned above, one of her passions was photography. I’ve been a photographer for decades and as often as possible I would plan photo trips with her up and down the Gorge which we both thoroughly enjoyed. She loved taking pictures of the many waterfalls in the Gorge and all the wildflowers that began to blossom in early Spring. Her favorite place for wildflowers was Catherine Creek in Washington at the east end of the Gorge. Three or four times a year during wildflower season Mom and I would pack a picnic lunch and head to

Catherine Creek and spend the day taking pictures and enjoying the scenery. Always a good time.

She got very involved with genealogy research and even traveled to Salt Lake City and with Shelley driving all of the way went to Montana to aid in her search. She managed to find relatives as far back as the 1600’s on two sides of her family. An impressive feat.

In her later years when asked what she would like for her birthday and Christmas she said she would like her children to make a donation to SnowCap an organization in Gresham, Oregon which provided food and clothing to those in need. And we did, which made her very happy.

In her own way she was a powerful, humble woman and I often wondered just how she managed to successfully raise four children under, at times, extremely trying circumstances. When I talked with her about that her answer was always, “It’s just what I had to do”.

She is loved by many and will always be loved.

She is survived by her kids Jimmie Oleachea, Shelley Oleachea-Caufield (Tom Caufield), Debbie Oleachea-Shirley (Tom Shirley), brother Carl Glenn Foster, grandkids Israel Duran, Adam Duran, Jasmin Wright (Chris), Justin Shirley (Stacey), Cherene Hope Adams and Jesse Tyler Oleachea and great-grandkids, Nacole Morrison, Tallie Mclean, Emme Morrison, Maya Duran, Logan Wright, Josie Wright, Skylar Shirley, and Jackson Shirley. Great grandkids Dietrick and Ryder.  Also, many nieces and nephews.

Preceding her in death were parents Milton Glenn Foster and Alice Mae Woodard Foster and brothers Gerald Lewis Foster, Marion Richard “Bud” Foster, son William Jerry “Chip” Oleachea. Also, husband Clyde Edgar Karlstrom who she married June 18, 1964.

In lieu of flowers, if donations are to be made please donate to:

SnowCap Community Charities, P.O. Box 160  Fairview, OR 97024-0160

Years ago Mom prepaid for her own cremation to be done at Omega Funeral & Cremation Service 223 SE 122nd Ave Portland, Or. 97233


Left to right: grandson Israel Duran, Barbara Karlstrom, and grandson  Adam Duran


Left to right: Debbie, Shelley, Chip,Jim