In Memory of Barbara Vincenz(1930 - 2016)
- Barbara Vincenz
- Reiner Vincenz
- Leena Vincenz-Gavin
- Birth Date
- June 12, 1930
- Blessing Date
- March 28, 1969
- Ascension Date
- August 28, 2016
Brigitte Barbara Rotraut Koch (Barbara Vincenz) was born on June 12, 1930 in Magdeburg, Germany. She grew up in a nice home with her parents Rudolf and Rotraut, big brother Peter and little sister Christel.
Barbara had a wonderful childhood but life changed as WWII hit. Her father and 16 year-old brother went to fight for their country. She was left with her mom and baby sister and Barbara was only 13 years old when they had to escape to West Germany together. She lost her father during the war and her mom was paralyzed in an accident shortly afterwards.
Eventually, Barbara followed her brother Peter Koch to America. She became a nanny for actress Beatrice Straight in NY and later went on to study interior design in San Francisco, where she joined the Unification Church as the tenth member in America.
Peter Koch, Barbara and a few others soon took the teachings of the Divine Principle to Europe. The first member they witnessed to there was a young German man, Reiner Vincenz. In 1969, True Father matched and blessed Reiner and Barbara in marriage. She always says, “There were so many couples! We couldn’t believe there were eight couples getting married together in Germany!” Barbara prepared the bride’s veils and made True Parents’ crowns for the ceremony out of special white leather.
Barbara was a devoted wife. She and Reiner accomplished a lot together, traveling all over the world. They always led together as a team – Reiner representing Heaven with the next big mission, and Barbara representing Earth saying, “Reiner, but we have to do the laundry first!”
The Vincenzes planted seven churches – five in France, one in Andora and one in Monaco. They then led the IOWC international teams; first, a 31-city and 8-city tour in America and then a 45-city tour in Japan and a 9-city tour in Korea, leading to the famous Yoido Rally. Reiner and Barbara are always referred to as a pioneer couple, “Marching On!” They devoted their life and love to God and True Parents.
Following the IOWC campaigns, Barbara continued to support Reiner in his various leadership roles around America and the world. She served as the National Leader of Germany for some time. She was also able to use her interior design background to design some of the Unification movement’s early properties in England as well as in the New Yorker Hotel. One of her proud moments was her time serving in True Parents’ apartment in the New Yorker Hotel as their personal assistant.
In 1987, at the age of 57, Barbara finally became a mother as Leena Mirelle was offered to them by Hitoshi and Linda Nagai. She devoted the next years staying at home and raising Leena while Reiner continued mission work. After a lot of travelling, they lived in Germany from 1989-1995 and then came to Illinois in 1995 where they lived since.
Barbara was a wonderful mom, not only to her daughter but to the many people who knew her. She had a loving motherly heart to all who met her. She was always so full of joy, appreciation and generosity and always thought of everyone else before herself. She was very happy to finally receive a son when Leena received the Marriage Blessing in 2007 to Jario Gavin, and to become a grandma in 2011 when Mirelle Claire was born, as well as in 2015 when Kyler Fritz was born!
In her later years, Barbara devoted herself to taking care of Reiner who suffered with Parkinson’s disease while she also began to have Parkinsons’ disease and Alzheimer’s. Barbara lived with her children for a year and then moved into a nursing home after her husband passed in 2015. Their children, Jario and Leena, devoted themselves to taking care of Reiner and Barbara for the past five years and were proud to be a part of a three-generation family.
Barbara passed peacefully in a beautiful hospice facility in Barrington, IL on Sunday, August 28 around 5:45 AM after having been without fluids for seventeen days. What a strong woman! Family and friends were able to share many beautiful moments together, showering her with love and memories during the final weeks of her life. We are sincerely grateful for all of the love and prayers given during that time.
Barbara is now free in Heaven reunited with her husband, Reiner, and many others. Let us pray for her victorious life and transition into her eternal home dwelling in God’s love.
Contributed by Leena & Jario Vincenz-Gavin
Visitation for Barbara will be on Friday, September 2, 2016 from 5:00 to 8:00 PM at the Morizzo Funeral Home and Cremation Services, 2550 W. Hassell Rd., Hoffman Estates, IL 60169.
Visitation will be available again on Saturday, September 3, 2016, from 9:00 AM until the 10:30 AM start of the Seonghwa Service. A Wonjeon service will follow at the Evergreen Cemetery in Barrington, Illinois.
To send flowers and share memories, photos and videos, please visit the Barbara Vincenz Seonghwa Website.
Financial gifts can be sent to Jario and Leena Vincenz-Gavin, 151 S. Ashland Ave., Palatine, IL 60074 or offered during the Seonghwa Ceremony.
Another Side of Reiner and Barbara Vincenz, by Bruce & Ilse Sutchar
Neither Ilse nor I ever had the mission of working under Rev Reiner Vincenz. However, through a series of circumstances, we wound up living very close to them when they returned to America about 1995. While this article will fall short in exact specifics and details of their lives, I hope that it will make up for the lack of details by sharing the depth of their hearts.
When I first came back to Chicago in 1984, Mr. Vincenz was the State Leader of Illinois working under Rev Michael Jenkins and Rev. Do Won Kim (72 couple) while Sheri Rueter was the Chicago city leader. Of course I am Jewish and Rev. Vincenz was very very German. Likewise, when Rev Jenkins joined the IOWC and his WWII Veteran Father came to Chicago to find out why his son had dropped out of Dental School to join the Unification Movement, he was greeted by none other than Rev. Vincenz and Rev. Sudo (just imagine his response as he was greeted by his two worst nightmares from WWII). In my case the only prejudice that I ever experienced from my Jewish parents is that they refused to have anything made in Germany in our home—even a woman’s bathing cap.
The next time I remember meeting Mr. Vincenz was after he had returned to East Germany and was then assigned by Father as the IW for all of South America. Because he and Rev Jenkins had developed a deep relation while they were both in Chicago, Rev Vincenz felt to come back not only to America but especially back to Chicago. He later told us that he missed America so much that he used to go to the U.S. Army Base in Geisen, East Germany and hang out in the Burger King, because it reminded him of the America that he missed so much.
At that time Rev Jenkins and I were immersed in SunCorp, a manufacturing plant which produced many different (mostly aluminum) products. We were making parts for McDonalds Ice Cream Machines, Bally Exercise Machines and we were machining casting for Borg Warner Automotive. Although he had little business experience, Mr. Vincenz joined our company and immediately began doing sales work.
Although his knowledge of blueprints and technology was limited, there was no barrier that Rev. Vincenz felt blocked or threatened by. Thus he made contact with such corporate giants as Kohler and many others. Personally, I felt that his expertise was in getting the door opened so that we could take over from there. While we would set goals every day for the number of sales calls made, Mr. Vincenz would never look up at the clock and therefore, surpassed our efforts by working longer hours and making more calls. He knew exactly how long it would take to get to work if he left the house at 7:10, 7:15, or 7:17. I suspected that this preciseness was due to his Germanic nature, but he informed me that it was really do his East German Communist Youth training. Rev. Vincenz had escaped from Communist East Germany while on a youth outing to the West. He had informed his parents that they would probably never see him again, but even though his escape was successful, he was re-united with them some time later.
My wife joined our movement in Austria just before Yankee Stadium. She joined under Peter and Gertrude Koch. Peter was Reiner’s spiritual Father and Barbara’s physical brother. Reiner’s first mission was to pioneer France. Please take a moment to visualize what it must have been like for a German in France just after World War II. But not only did Reiner survive, he brought great success to his mission. Both Dr Thomas Ward and Bill Selle joined under Reiner and he is responsible for the establishment of the Christian Bernard Jewelry Company. Just a few years ago, the French Family invited Rev Vincenz to return as they celebrated the 50th anniversary of our movement in France. Rev. Vincenz wrote his speech yet even he was amazed that he was able to deliver the entire speech in French!
Rev. Vincenz joined our movement in 1963 and Mrs. Vincenz and her brother Peter joined in San Francisco 2 years earlier. Barbara was the 13th member to join in America. Her background was in interior design and she had come to America to be a nanny for a famous actress’ daughter in California.
One of the most precious things for this author was to hear about the Vincenz’s r intimate relationship with True Parents. Father had personally suggested their blessing and they were with Father in Germany when he personally matched them individually.
After their return to Chicago, my wife often dropped off our daughter to stay with Barbara and her beautiful daughter Leena. Because of her intense lifestyle leading the worldwide IOWC alongside her husband, Barbara was never able to have children. But one sister, Linda Nagai, who had been one of their team members, had had a deep spiritual experience and was guided to give her second child to the Vincenzes. As Leena grew up, my wife also became her piano teacher.
I remember one day when I came to pick up my daughter, I was admiring their simple but immaculately clean apartment. Then Barbara told me that she and Reiner had never lived in an apartment before. I guess most of their life was spent in Motor Homes, traveling around to every continent in order to save the world.
One time around the year 2000, I was able to travel to Cheung Pyeong with Mr. Vincenz. What I remember vividly is sitting on a bus next to him and how nearly every member who came onto the bus greeted Rev. Vincenz, because they had been his member at one time or another on IOWC. It seemed like the only person who had never been one of Reiner’s members was probably True Father—and even then I wondered. My sense is that Rev. & Mrs. Vincenz had lived nearly every moment of their lives in direct service and obedience to True Parents—having absolutely no thoughts for their own personal wellbeing. I will always remember one day in the mid 1990’s when True Father was in Chicago. We were all hoping that True Father would come and visit our SunCorp factory. As we prepared for this possibility, Mrs. Vincenz took a broom and went outside to sweep the sidewalk in front of the building. A small act–or the act of devout and devoted daughter?
We have just finished celebrating Mrs. Vincenz’ Seong Hwa ceremony and laid her to rest beside her beloved Reiner. Several years ago Reiner began to develop a form of Parkinson’s Disease. It manifested itself in him so that his throat muscles made it difficult for him to eat and his voice became almost inaudible. But his mind remained strong. Up until the end when Rev Schanker came to visit, he was asking for a Motor Home so he could lead one last IOWC team across the country. Rev. Schanker assured him that there would be a motor home waiting for him in Heaven.
For the past 3 ½ years my Austrian wife has been spending one day a week with Mrs. Vincenz. She would take her shopping, to Panera Bread for her favorite Tomato Soup and she would make her carrot juice. Then they would converse in German. Also her sister-in-law Gertrude Koch would call every night from Seattle.
Eventually Mrs. Vincenz also developed Parkinson’s. It manifested itself in her shaky hands, which I would always hold when I visited her. But like Reiner, her mind remained clear. During these last years they would both experience the birth of their first grand-daughter Mirel Vincenz-Gavin and then Barbara was able to celebrate the birth of her first grandson, Kyler. Barbara’s birthday is June 12th one day before mine and she was in great spirits for her 86th celebration this past summer. Finally it was time to move her to a Hospice. But though the doctor kept telling us that this would be her last day she kept on keeping on. When my wife and I came to say our final good-byes, she would squeeze my hand when I said something, although she never opened her eyes. Finally someone commented that because people were staying with her all night long, it was as if she didn’t want to leave while someone was visiting her. It wouldn’t have been polite. So that night no one stayed with her, and sure enough, she made her own transition. During the Seong Hwa the one comment that was constant among all the speakers was how kind that Barbara always was. How she treated everyone exactly the same regardless of their position in life or in the church.
It was her time to go to join her beloved Reiner. The Vincenz’s leave behind a legacy of one beautiful daughter a faithful loving and loyal son-in-law (son of Jim & Gudrum Gavin), two beautiful grandchildren, members who lovingly served under them on every continent in the world, the gratitude of their True Parents and Reiner’s famous motto—whenever anyone would ask how he was doing, he replied simply, “Marching On.”
Testimony About Barbara Vincenz, Offered by Linda Nagai During the Seonghwa Ceremony
First I would like to thank Leena and Jario for giving me the opportunity to stand here today. I know that there are many persons in this room and around the world who have precious testimonies of Barbara, and for all of you who may not have a chance to share here, I hope that together with the others who have spoken today, we will represent your hearts and love as well as our own. First, I would like to explain that for many years I called Reiner, Rev. Vincenz and Barbara, Mrs. Vincenz, they were revered by me and for me these titles were their endearing names. After Leena was born, the Vincenz’s asked me many times to call them by their first names, but it still took me many years to come to that point, so I may go back & forth here between titles & first names.
If some of you have already read our testimonies in the 1987 Blessing Quarterly, please bare with me as I share some of that same testimony. I joined our Unification Church in April of 1976, just in time to help with the exciting rally at Yankee Stadium. Then in the early part of 1977 I was assigned to work with the Vincenz’s American IOWC team. This was already a long time after Reiner and Barbara successfully pioneered several countries and lead the international IOWC teams in Japan and Korea culminating in the greatest success of the Yoido Rally. I was completely ignorant of who the Vincenz’s were, the great Yoido Rally or any of that. I was a young member less than a year in our movement when I had the great blessing to work under the leadership of Reiner and Barbara Vincenz. I worked under them for less than one year. As in their other missions, they lead our team together, with the heart of parents.
I would like to share just a little from those days. We were 64 members living in a grand old house in the Bronx, of New York City. Every morning, as we left for our respective responsibilities Rev. Vincenz would stand at the door, and by name wish each one of us a good day. Anyone who seemed to be having a difficult time that morning, he would ask to stay behind. From early on we were all convinced he could look right through us and know our spiritual state of affairs. On the mornings when I was invited to stay behind, we would usually gather together on the floor as Rev. and Mrs. Vincenz sat on the couch and told us stories of the early days of our movement, or sometimes they would read us folk stories from Korea or Germany. And sometimes they would invite us to sing a song, and I loved singing to them. Looking back I think I was very lucky to have so many difficult days, because it meant more mornings with Rev. and Mrs. Vincenz, and it was those kinds of experiences that made me fall in love with them. They were parents to all of us. A kind of parents I had never known.
The ones I love the most in our movement even more than the Vincenz’s, are the founders of my faith, Rev. and Mrs. Moon, whom we lovingly refer to as True Parents. They are, without a doubt, the most beautiful, true and good people I have ever met. I am so grateful for the many opportunities I had in my early days to be so close to them, and I owe that to Rev. and Mrs. Vincenz. Every Sunday they made sure we all left the Bronx promptly at 4:00 am, so that we could be the very first ones to arrive in Belvedere where Rev. Moon would give the early Sunday Sermon. We didn’t use chairs in those days and sitting on the floor right up close meant that Rev. Moon would often interact with us more personally.
It was also during those times that Rev. Moon spoke nearly every Sunday about the Family centered on God, he often said, even in English “You must fulfill your own 4 position Foundation”, meaning husband, wife and children all centered on God. Watching the Vincenz’s sit in front of True Parents with absolute love and absolute faith, when they couldn’t have children of their own and then seeing them take such good care of all 60 of us, always touched my heart.
One day I asked a member who was longer in the church than I was, “What happens when a couple can’t have children?”. She mentioned that she had heard that couples who can have children could give them a child, though she didn’t know anyone who had done that. That night when I prayed I told God that I would be willing to give a baby to the Vincenz’s. I wanted to return to them the love we all received. After nearly a year, the Vincenz’s were called to go to Germany for a new mission, and I moved on, too, but somehow I would never forget them, nor my prayer to one day give them a child.
I met my future husband, Hitoshi Nagai, for the first time in 1979. 3 years later we were Blessed in marriage. It was sometime before our Blessing that I mentioned to Hitoshi how one day I wanted to give a child to the Vincenz’s. Naturally he was shocked, we weren’t even married yet, but little by little he realized I was serious and he agreed, so we decided together that when we did begin our family, we would have one child for our lineage and then we would offer a child to Reiner and Barbara. I didn’t want to wait longer than that because I knew they were getting older.
After our first child was born, we got in touch with Rev. and Mrs. Vincenz and shared our heart to give them a child and finally almost 10 years after I spoke it to God, we offered them a baby girl.
During those 10 years before Leena arrived, I was often sick, so much so that sometimes I didn’t know how I could on, and I have often felt, it was that determination to offer a child to the Vincenz’s that kept me going during the toughest of times. I held in my mind an image of their beautiful happy smiling faces as they held their own child, I believe that vision gave me the life energy to live.
There were at least 2 other couples in America, that I learned of, who had offered a child to another couple, before we did. You know, it’s really not up to the offering couple to decide what kind of relationship the 2 families will have in the future. And I do not mean any offense in saying that the first couple had a very different experience than we did, a very surprising, painful relationship with the receiving parents. The second couple had it easier, but everything was kept very quiet, almost secret. And then there was Reiner and Barbara Vincenz. It is my own observation that the first offering was received at the level of the Old Testament, the second offering was received at the level of the New Testament, we were the third offering, and I believe Reiner and Barbara met the standard of the Completed Testament when they received Leena, And I even dare proclaim here today, that they not only met that high standard, they blew it out of the water.
From the beginning, before Leena was even conceived, Barbara knew that she wanted to love Hitoshi and I more than our own parents did, even more than she and Reiner would love the little baby, so that we would never regret giving our baby away. And so she began to invest all of her heart into serving our little family. From the time we offered and they accepted, Reiner and Barbara both gave us so much love and attention. They decided that our families should stay close as Barbara thought it was important for Leena to know clearly where she came from, that she was not ever an unwanted child. So our 2 families grew together through the next years.
The Vincenz’s investment of love and attention continued for the next 10 years. We were not always in the same country but they always stayed in touch with cards, letters, pictures and loads of gratitude, always. If Rev. Vincenz had to travel anywhere in the world, miraculously, he seemed to find a way to stop by our little home in New Jersey for a visit! And when they moved back to America, our family often visited them from Arkansas.
I had not known such love before I met Barbara and Reiner Vincenz, and while I drank in their attention, I honestly thought they were fulfilling some kind of condition, because I kept my promise to give them a child for 10 years, they would serve us unconditionally for 10 years and then I expected them to become more distant. Then, at the same time those 10 years were coming to a close, Rev. Moon began the National Messiah providence with a kick off 40 days Workshop in Korea. The Vincenz’s were in their later 60s by then. They had heard that even the 36 Blessed Couples were completing a 7 days fast and climbing the mountain to pray at the Holy Ground everyday. Of course, the Vincenz’s would accept this challenge.
Then we got a phone call and Reiner and Barbara asked us if we would take care of Leena for 40 days in our home in AR, and they told us they had made a will, naming us as Leena’s legal guardians, just incase anything happened to them. This was how they ended the 10 years that I could only imagine was a condition! My heart was blown away. Please understand, it was not that I thought maybe Leena would be ours one day, I never thought like that, rather the reason it was such a big deal to me is because at the end of those 10 years they took steps to move closer to us, they never intended to fulfill some condition and then back off and focus on their own little family. After that we became even closer than ever.
While Reiner was our teacher, elder brother of truth and wisdom, with a high standard, and at the same time a very fatherly heart, Barbara was my mother, my sister, and my best friend. When Leena was a baby, Barbara asked my advice about how to do everything for Leena, after all I did have a daughter a year older than Leena, surely I had it all figured out by then! In those times we were just like happy sisters.
Then there were other times, when my life was painful and I cried buckets, maybe barrels of tears. More than once I cried on Barbara’s shoulder. Barbara never criticized me for crying, or being weak, or unfaithful, rather she always patiently waited for all of my hurt emotions to come out and then she would say small things, do small things to encourage me, and often in those times Reiner and Barbara would hold hands with me and pray such a beautiful loving prayer.
I don’t want to exaggerate our story by giving you the impression that I thought the Vincenz’s were perfect. Our relationships were familiar and intimate. Sometimes I would argue with their point of view, with utmost respect of course, and sometimes I would even win. Sometimes I criticized their action, and whenever they saw that I was right, they would change their heart and their action immediately, whatever it was. I found this quite remarkable. They never treated us as if we were lower than them, we were family, and one does not think in those terms in the context of a family.
I cannot fully express what it feels like to know that I was able to hold on to a dream of giving a child to another family for 10 years! That Hitoshi and I could accomplish this offering, is already an incredible blessing, but the even greater Blessing was when Reiner and Barbara, chose to love Hitoshi and I and our 5 children so deeply for the rest of their life.
I have often said that Heaven came down to Earth as our 2 couples lived in love and gratitude. Remember all of those circles True Father used to draw on the chalkboard over and over and around and around, trying to show us on that flat surface about the spherical motion of love, the giving and receiving and the triple objective purpose. Well I definitely agreed that it was a very good concept, but I didn’t really have any idea what Rev. Moon was trying to share.
In our relationship with Reiner and Barbara, those drawings became very real in my life. Reiner and Barbara, first gave something to me as a member on their team, I received it and returned gratitude to them, then we changed positions and Hitoshi and I gave them a child, they received from us and returned to us there deepest gratitude, and this spherical give and take of love and gratitude spinning around and around came to life for me. I feel so lucky to know how incredible life can be when we can extend our experience of love beyond our own family, to love others unconditionally, and when we can live in gratitude for the people that come into our life, as we come to know the Heart of God.
I feel I have been largely insignificant within the Unification movement for most of my life, but in the world of love, I know that to God not one of us is ever insignificant. But had the Vincenz’s chosen to take our offering for granted, focusing solely on their gift from God, I think I would be a very different person today.
What I experienced, learned and inherited from Barbara and Reiner is all about true love, how it’s our destiny to love one another as one family under God.
Our True Parents, and in my life, Reiner & Barbara loved us and our children beyond our lack of faith, beyond our lack of ability, or our lack of deeper understanding, and definitely beyond our mistakes. Experiencing this love gave Hitoshi and I a much deeper relationship to God, and we are sure that this Divine love lives somewhere within every person we meet, and with patience and wisdom we can bring it out in each other. And I’m sure that this kind of love can light a fire that spreads far and wide and only by centering on true unconditional love we can bring the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.
What will I do with this precious gift,
shall I embrace it to myself,
Oh no I can’t, I would lose it sure,
it must be given if it’s to endure.
Thank you so very much, my beloved Barbara, may you dance, sing and breathe love, always, for eternity, and may we, one day, join you in that Heavenly dance. Thank you from all of us.
- 10:30 AM
- Saturday, September 3, 2016
- Morizzo Funeral Home and Cremation Services, 2550 W. Hassell Rd., Hoffman Estates, IL 60169