Barbara Ann Mager, known to many as “Barb”, passed away peacefully in Lincoln, Neb on the morning of Jan. 21, 2019. Barb was born on Sept. 3, 1929, on her parents farm north of Pleasant Hill, Neb. She was the eldest of 3 daughters born to Della (Safranek) Belka and John Belka. She attended Dorchester schools and was Valedictorian of her graduating class at Dorchester High School in 1946.
Barb often loved to reminisce about her early years growing up on the farm, where her mother would sing to her daughters as they all worked together around the house, tending to poultry and livestock, and other farm chores. It was likely this early exposure to her mother's singing that instilled in her a life-long love of music, which eventually became her career. Barb learned to play piano at an early age, and at the age of 14 was playing with a polka band near Dorchester.
In 1947, Barb married Henry J. Mager of Crete. Together, they worked a farm just east of Dorchester and gave birth to four daughters. Following their divorce in 1966, Barb moved to Beatrice with her daughters, supporting her family by continuing her career as a musician. She sang and played the piano, and later her Gulbransen organ, on a regular basis at the former Holiday Inn north of Beatrice, as well as traveling to various other restaurants and lounges around southeast Nebraska. Her repertoire included almost any type of music, from polkas, to country music, ballads, and even some of the current hits of the day. Wherever she played, those in attendance enjoyed listening, dancing, and especially her “sing-along” numbers.
During her years in Beatrice, Barb met Lyle Tiedeman, who began by helping her load and unload the organ into the small cargo trailer she'd bought for it. As they grew to know each other better, Lyle eventually became her loving companion and partner for the remainder of her life.
In 1972, Barb moved to Lincoln, where she continued her musical career by entertaining in the restaurant and lounge at the former Ramada Inn, and later at the former Sheraton Hotel. She also continued traveling to various restaurants and lounges in the area (one of her favorites being Lee's Restaurant in Lincoln), always (with Lyle's help) taking her organ, and later her electronic keyboard, with her. Barb also often played and sang at private parties, wedding receptions and dances, conventions, and holiday parties in the area.
After Barb “retired” from her regular playing career, she often entertained residents at several nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the Lincoln area, where her familiarity with the “oldies songs” was always a hit. She also had more time to enjoy her children and, especially, her grandchildren.
The following is a quote taken from an article appearing in the Lincoln Sun in 1979: “…She is an accomplished musician who has a God-given talent that is most enjoyable to hear. Barb Mager rates a 10 on a 10-point scale of good entertainment.”
Barb is survived by her long-time companion and partner, Lyle Tiedeman of Lincoln; her two sisters: Gladys (late husband Sonny) Stephens of Milford, and Jean (husband Jerry) Peery of Annandale, MN; her four daughters: Linda Mager and Wendy Wunder, both of Lincoln, Dixie Mager (husband Mark McCutcheon) of Vancouver, B.C., and Gail (husband John) Bullock of Tulsa, OK; her three grandchildren: Julie Bullock Earp (husband Jud) of Jay, OK, Natalie Mager-Zikmund of Chicago, IL, and Andrew Bullock (wife Katie) of Tulsa, OK; one great-grandaughter: Jayma Earp of Jay, OK; and six nephews. Barb was preceded in death by her parents, John and Della Belka of Dorchester, and ex-husband Henry Mager.
A memorial service is scheduled for 11 a.m., Feb. 4, at Butherus, Maser & Love Funeral Home in Lincoln. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that those wishing to remember Barb do so by making a donation to their favorite charity in Barb's memory.