Babette ‘Babs’ Pribbeno - November 21, 2013
Babette “Babs” Pribbeno was born in Columbus, Neb., to A.O. “Bud” Stenger and Mary McCoy Stenger on Feb. 2, 1926, and died on Nov. 16, 2013, in Lincoln, Neb.
She was raised in Omaha, Arcadia, Hastings and Imperial on the ranch north of town, the Lone Star Ranch. She spent two years in Russia as a small child while her father taught the Russians how to raise pigs. She later graduated from Chase County High School in 1944.
Babs went on to earn a bachelor of science degree in business from the University of Nebraska. After college, she worked at the Terry Lee Doll Factory in Lincoln as the assistant to the president.
She returned to Chase County to her home, the Lone Star Ranch, to assist in the operations. She became very involved in Red Cross swimming lessons, which she taught for 28 years. Babette was extremely proud of her Water Safety Instructor certification and worked tirelessly pulling children from the bottom of the pool.
She was actively involved in the Pom Poms (promoters of music) in the Imperial schools. That activity included designing and painting sets for various productions and writing the script for her daughter, Sue’s, eighth grade play. Based on “Fractured Fairy Tales,” that play, “Little Red Hooding Ride” was later a knockout hit on Broadway. (Well, they did perform the show at the Imperial Grade School on Broadway, Imperial’s main street.)
Babs was also a Boy and Girl Scout leader, 4-H leader and active in her extension and sewing clubs. She was passionate about the Arboretum Committee which purchased and planted the trees for the new Chase County School.
Babette enjoyed traveling with her husband, family and friends in the later years and toured Europe, Australia, England, Brazil, Mexico and Alaska. Within the U.S., she and her husband, Bill, traveled to many different states following the grandkids horsing around at the AQHA horse shows, She also enjoyed sporting and music events of the younger grandchildren.
In 2009, she fulfilled a lifelong dream to see Yellowstone when she ventured to the national park with her three daughters and chauffeur, Mike Renken, who silently endured frequent and often unsolicited driving tips. Always up for a road trip, Babs enjoyed traveling to theater events, particularly those involving her daughter, Lori, in North Platte.
This year would have marked the 50th anniversary of her marriage to the late Bill Pribbeno. Their four children, Sue, Jeff, Lori and Dolly and the subsequent grandchildren were the center of their lives.
Babs was a consummate mother, being an avid supporter of her children’s varied and sometimes peculiar interests. Jeff’s rock band was set up in the garage and Lori’s grand piano was in their bedroom. She gleefully attended (endured) their frequent performances.
Once while driving a carload of girls to the skating rink, she heard that one of them had a very low voice when singing along with the radio. That prompted her to start up a barbershop quartet that included her youngest, Dolly. The quartet performed at numerous venues including state fairs and other interested groups. Of late, hearing barbershop quartet music made her homesick.
Throughout her children’s teenage years, Rotary exchange students found an interesting and fun place to live in the Pribbeno home. Babs and Bill made sure these students lived the Imperial experience and often visited their exchange students’ countries and families. Babs encouraged the Pribbeno teens to be exchange students as well and welcomed her kids’ foreign “parents” for a visit in Imperial.
Along with her various volunteer activities, she was also employed at First State Bank of Enders in their insurance division.
Babs was able to spend her last years at home with Sue and Mike Renken in Lincoln. She constantly coddled and will be missed by her loyal Chihuahua, Oscar. Her family is sure he will now get down to his fighting weight of 25 pounds.
Babette is survived by daughters, Sue Renken (Mike) of Lincoln, Lori Swanson (David) of North Platte, Dolly Parker (Clay) of Stillwater, Minn., and one son, Jeff Pribbeno (Connie) of Imperial. Grandchildren are Sam Renken (Maggie) of Atlanta, Ga., Mary Uher (Jason) of Columbia, Md., Meghan Wilke (Clint) of Omaha; Logan Pribbeno (Brianna) of Imperial, Max Pribbeno (Emma) of Windsor, Colo.; Alex Swanson (Kirsty) of Denver, Colo., Sophie Markley (Jeff) of North Platte; and Libby, Henry and Sage Parker of Stillwater, Minn. Great grandchildren are Zuri and Ella Renken and Reese Wilke.
“Grandma” was renowned throughout the family for her homemade noodles and Pull-Out-Your-Teeth Chocolate Sauce. Most importantly, Babsie found humor in something every single day. Her hilarity was absolutely infectious, and she will be most missed, surely, for the gut-splitting occasions that brought all around her to their knees.
A private celebration of life will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to the Imperial Community Foundation Fund, PO Box 1281, Imperial, NE 69033.