As a child in England, Barbara Rimington survived the bombing of her hometown by the German air force in World War II. As an adult in Nebraska, the memories would return with the blare of a civil defense siren.
“When the tornado sirens would go off here, she literally would go berserk because it would remind her of the air raids as a child,” said Doug Rimington, 52, of Omaha, one of her sons.
Rimington, the mother of Nebraska Cornhusker football great Dave Rimington, died Feb. 9. She was 79.
Doug Rimington described his mother as a generous, devout and intelligent person with a pleasant disposition, who loved to travel, take her children camping, and knit and crochet.
“She would go overboard to help people,” he said. “She had her bouts of not being afraid to tell you what she thought, regardless of what it was. She was very strong-willed.”
Barbara Ramsbottom was born in Birkenhead, England, on July 4, 1936. The town is across the River Mersey from the shipping center of Liverpool and was a prime target for Germans bombs.
Her father died from injuries suffered during the war. One of her sisters married an American GI, inspiring another sister to immigrate to the United States. In the early 1950s, Barbara and her mother did the same, following that sister to Bellevue.
She got a job at the Wilson Packing Plant in South Omaha, where she met Emile Rimington.
The couple married in 1955 and had four children. If the Rimington siblings complained about anything, she would draw on her World War II experiences to give her kids a reality check.
“She was like, ‘This is what I persevered (through),’ ” Doug Rimington said. “It kind of made us realize, no matter how bad it got, it could always be worse.”
Dave Rimington redefined the center position at Nebraska, helping NU come within a few plays of national championships in 1981 and 1982, winning two Outland Trophies and a Lombardi Award before a seven-year NFL career.
Emile Rimington died in 1991. The couple’s children — Doug, Dave and Dennis Rimington and Diane Hempel — survive them.
A number of medical issues played a role in Barbara Rimington’s death, Doug Rimington said.
Services will be 10 a.m. Thursday at the funeral home.
Doug Rimington said one of the things he would remember most about his mother was her sense of adventure. In retirement, she would sometimes decide, on a whim, to visit her sister in Seattle. She would drive to and from the West Coast by herself.
“She wasn’t afraid to explore,” he said.