Applebaum, Barbara Bruce

Longtime Teacher And World Traveler

  • Friday, May 26, 2023
Barbara Bruce Applebaum
Barbara Bruce Applebaum

Barbara Bruce Applebaum passed away on Friday, May 12, 2023, at her family home in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

She was born on Jan. 28, 1945, in Columbus, Ms., to Bonny Backstrom Bruce and William Floyd Bruce.

Barbara lived in Columbus, Ms., Boston, Atlanta, Baton Rouge, Clinton, Ms., Vicksburg, Ms., and the last few years in Chattanooga. She attended Mississippi University for Women and graduated with MUW’s first ever issued Masters in Elementary Education.

Barbara’s travels in her younger years took her all over the country and Europe. She backpacked through Europe. She would talk often of her adventures in a Volkswagen Transporter van, which would never do more than 40 mph and she constantly convert miles to kilometers in her head. During the adventure she explored Italy, Greece, Germany, and other countries. Back home in the states she explored all over and was proudest of her accomplishment in ascending the 14,410 feet above sea level to the top of Mount Rainier in Washington. After retirement she frequently traveled with her friends and relatives to Orlando, Branson, Gatlinburg, and other major tourist spots.

Barbara taught for over 40 years in three different states. She started teaching gymnastics in Atlanta, then elementary school in Louisiana, and then spent the later half of her career working for the Vicksburg-Warren School District working in elementary and junior high school. During her time there she was responsible for the initial grant for the Vicksburg-Warren School District Alternative Programs and was the sole teacher for the first few years at Warren Central Junior High School. During these years she took many students who were considered “trouble cases” and turned their lives around. Her passion was changing young hearts and showing her students they were loved dearly, even if it wasn’t found at home. She then transitioned back to elementary education and eventually started a science club focused on recycling in partnership with the Vicksburg chapter of Lions Club International. The club was called Students for Environmental Awareness and their nickname was S.E.A. Lions. During these years she conducted numerous soda can drives to collected hundreds of pounds of cans for the Lions Club to recycle and use the money toward their projects, but mostly their program to aid children in getting free eye exams and glasses. This eventually led into her starting and teaching the Science Lab at South Park Elementary school and she held this position until her retirement in 2005. The S.E.A. Lions mascot “Sammy the Sea Lion” would travel all over with the local crew of engineers from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Waterways Experiment Station during their trips to explore and research the Mississippi River.

Barbara was a member of Vicksburg Chapter of Lions Club International and held many leadership positions throughout her retirement years. She was also a member of the League of Women Voters and the Daughters of the American Revolution. Her passions were watching Hallmark movies, Star Wars and Star Trek, putting together puzzles, collecting coffee mugs from her trips, spending time with her cousins and family in Columbus, Ms., traveling to St. Augustine, Fl. to enjoy a week at the Beach Club each year, and spending time with her son and his family. She got a chance to fulfill her dream of living in the same house as her grandchildren in 2021 and change everything about their daily life. She would put together puzzles, watch cartoons and movies, and joyfully and obliviously watch her grandson play video games. Her happiest moments were having them sneak into her room and wake her up in the morning. She will be deeply missed and our lives will forever miss her unique laugh, love for organization, and her saying joyfully, “another one bites the dust” when she finished a task on her list.

She was preceded in death by her brother, William David Bruce, mother, Bonny Backstrom Bruce, and father, William Floyd Bruce.

She is survived by her son and daughter-in-law, Chad and Angela Applebaum and their son and daughter.

Condolences may be shared with the family at

A private celebration of life will be held at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, memorials in Barbara's name may be made to the Hinds Community College Foundation in the William F."Sonny" Bruce Memorial Scholarship, P.O. Box 1100, Raymond, Ms., 39154-1100.

Arrangements are by the South Crest Chapel of Lane Funeral Home and Crematory, Rossville.

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