Barbara Birkeland Hulbert


Barbara Birkeland Hulbert

Barbara Birkeland Hulbert died peacefully at home in La Conner on June 17. She was 96.

"Barb" was born March 25, 1927, in Fort Benton, Mont., to Ingolf and Elizabeth (Flagler) Birkeland. She was one of seven children, which included Francis, Helen, Margaret, Beverly, Phyllis, and Thomas. Barb grew up a self-described "tomboy" on the family ranch, where she drove grain trucks and tractors and ran a combine.

Upon earning her degree in Microbiology from Montana State College, an adventurous Barb relocated to Hawaii to teach at Kamehameha High School. But after two years of living in the U.S. territory, "the island got small." A move back to the mainland settled her for a time in Seattle, where she worked at Boeing as a "computer," running calculations for engineers designing the B-52 bomber.

Barbara soon met La Conner farmer James H. "Jim" Hulbert Jr., through friends and family, and the couple were married in 1954. The newlyweds lived at the Gaches Mansion in La Conner, where they occupied the coveted front apartment on the third floor. A year later, they moved to the farm and welcomed the first of three sons before building the home they would live in for more than six decades.

Throughout the years, Barb partnered with Jim to grow the business, Hulbert Farms, taking on responsibilities that ranged from operating equipment to delivering produce to markets throughout the Valley. She also kept the farm's books and handled payroll for large crews until she retired in 1992, all while raising three boys, maintaining a generous supply of her famous brownies and chocolate chip cookies, and honing her notable bridge-playing skills.

Barbara is survived by sons Jay (Jodi), Tom (Phyllis), and Jack (René); eight grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; and sister, Beverly Carlson of Polson, MT. Her husband, Jim, predeceased her in 2010.

A celebration of life will be planned later this summer, with a date yet to be determined. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Rotary Club of La Conner Jim Hulbert Vocational Scholarship, P.O. Box 2111, La Conner, WA 98257.

Arrangements are under the care of Kern Funeral Home of Mount Vernon.

You may offer your condolences and share your memories of Barb online at


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