Barbara Jean Timmins Hetzel


Just five days after celebrating her 74th birthday in the company of her son and his wife, siblings, and their spouses—grilling her own hotdogs over a fire on the back deck while overlooking a gorgeous sunset on the mountains—Barbara Jean Timmins Hetzel passed away peacefully at her home in Sandy, Utah, October 24, 2023, concluding a courageous seven-year battle with cancer.  

Born in Sioux City, Iowa, on October 19, 1949, to Shirley and Claude Timmins, Barb was the third of their five children and filled her spot as middle child with boundless energy, enthusiasm, and humor. She could talk easily with anyone of any age, anytime, anywhere, about anything! This talent served her well during her high school years in Estherville, Iowa (graduating class of 1967), college at St. Catherine’s in St. Paul, MN, later at the University of Iowa, and throughout her teaching career.

It was during her first teaching job at the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota that Barb met her husband, Jim Hetzel. They later moved to Arizona, where their son, Kortland, was born and where Barb touched the lives of thousands of students during her 39-year teaching career in Phoenix-area schools. She was well-loved by students and faculty alike for her creativity, often zany high spirits, insights, and ability to inspire creativity and intellectual curiosity.

Barb’s departure from this world leaves a void that can never be filled, but her memory will be cherished by all who had the privilege of crossing paths with her. She is survived by her son, Kortland Hetzel, and his wife, Sara, of Chicago; her brother, Tom Timmins, and his wife, Amy, of Greenfield, MA; by her brother, Rick Timmins and his wife, Marcia Merryman, of Freeland, WA; her brother Joe Timmins and his wife, Diane Heubusch, of Sandy, UT; and by her sister Betty Timmins Fettig, and her husband, Rick, of Milford, Iowa. Barb was preceded in death by Betty and Rick’s son, John, by her parents, Claude and Shirley, and by her husband, Jim.

Barbara Timmins Hetzel was a beloved daughter, sister, mother, auntie, and friend whose presence graced our lives and whose memory will continue to inspire us to embrace joy in every moment. We will miss Barb’s phone calls, chatting for hours, and sometimes it was just rambling on about something pointless and funny. She will be profoundly missed but never forgotten.

If you would like to honor Barb’s kindness, generosity, and desire to make the world a better place, please consider making a memorial contribution to the American Association for Cancer Research,