Barbara Lohr. Submitted photo
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Barbara Lohr: 55 years of service and dedication to Jackson community

by Elane Moonier ~ Features Editor

When it comes to years of community service and dedication to the Jackson community, there are few who could hold a candle to Barbara Lohr.

In the 55 years she has lived here, she has given countless volunteer hours to numerous organizations, served as the first female mayor of the town, and worked tirelessly for the growth and betterment of Jackson.

Originally from Sikeston, Barbara came north to attend Southeast Missouri State University where she earned her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree. After graduation, she married Bob Lohr. When he received a medical discharge from the Marine Corp, the couple settled in Jackson, where he accepted a position as a teacher and coach.

Barbara had been active in Girl Scouts in Sikeston and became a troop leader here right away. A year later, she became Neighborhood Chairman, and with the help of other leaders, worked to establish the first Girl Scout Day Camp in Jackson.

Barbara was also busy at Immaculate Conception Church where she helped organize the first Sunday School for four and five year old. When their two boys, Jim and Lane, were old enough for Scouting, she became a troop leader for Cub Scouts. When their daughter, Kathy, was old enough, Barbara started working with Girls Scouts again. She began teaching at Cape Vo-Tech when their children were in school.

She was inspired to attend the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission meetings when a zoning issue came up in the neighborhood, and when an opening came up on the committee, Mayor Sanders appointed Barbara to the board, where she served for the next 12 years, five of them as chairman of that board.

When the alderman for her ward decided not to run, Barbara put her name on the ballot and was elected to City Council and served for five years. When Mayor Sanders decided not to run for that office again, many in the community and on the city staff encouraged Barbara to run. She won the election and served four terms as mayor for a total of eight years.

Barbara said the City made great progress during her time in office. “We completed the Main Street extension and I-55 exit, which led to development in that area. We passed a public safety tax to build the new Fire Station and worked with MoDOT to install turn lanes and traffic signals for safety at South Elementary School. We worked with the county and MoDOT for additional safety and to relieve congestion in Uptown Jackson by installing a round-a-bout in the area that had been listed as the number one traffic problem for over 20 years. We were also successful in recruiting Nordenia (now Mondi) and Liberty Utilities in our North Industrial Park.”

Construction also began on the new Civic Center during her term of office, with the help of a FEMA grant, a donation from Jackson Community Betterment Corp and passage of a quarter-cent sales tax. She additionally appointed a committee to begin research and planning for the new police station which is now under construction.

“While I am proud of these accomplishments, I want to stress that they were a joint effort involving many other entities, the Board of Aldermen, City staff and our citizens. I am also appreciative of all the support I had from all the City Departments as we worked together for the betterment of Jackson,” she noted.

Now that she is no longer holding office and is retired from teaching, Barbara does a great deal of volunteer work. She spends many hours working with the Iron Mountain Railway and the Whistle Stop Depot.

She is a member of Uptown Jackson Revitalization Organization, serves on the board, and is Chairman of the Economic Vitality Committee.

“I am excited about the work they and our Uptown merchants are doing to bring people into the Uptown Jackson district,” she said.

Barbara volunteers at the History Center and for many of their activities. She is a long-time member of the Noon Optimists, having served on the board and as president. She is a P.E.O. member and has served as secretary, vice-president and president. She volunteers at the Food Pantry and in the office at Immaculate Conception Church.

“Jackson is a unique and special place,” Barbara said. “It has been a privilege to live here and to raise my family here. It is the people living here who make it so special. They are such good, caring, friendly, and compassionate people that it is fun to be around them.”
 
 

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