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Nature Conservancy - Great Lakes Project
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Life Story / Obituary
All who knew Betty Barry would agree that she was an extraordinary woman to know and love. Her strength, courage, and resiliency were so inspiring, and she made it her mission to be a voice for those who often go unheard. Betty was completely devoted to her family, and she treasured each and every moment spent surrounded by the ones she loved. She was never one to let life get the best of her, rather, she faced whatever came her way head on. Life will never be the same without Betty here, but she leaves behind a timeless legacy that her loved ones will proudly carry on in her footsteps.
During the first half of the 1940s, the eyes of our nation were focused overseas as WWII raged on. There was dancing in the streets with the end of the war in August of 1945, and the years that followed were a transitional time in America. As the baby boom got underway, Leonard and Helen (Bladowski) Olbrot celebrated a little one of their own as they welcomed the baby girl they named Elizabeth Jane, later to be called Betty into their hearts and home on June 23, 1947, in Detroit, Michigan. Joining her older sisters, Connie and Phyllis, she was the middle of five children as her siblings, John and Eileen, followed her. Betty’s father worked in production control at Chrysler while her mother was a homemaker. They were a close family, and Betty often enjoyed playing dolls with her sister. Many times, the siblings all played together.
Raised in the family home on the East side of Detroit, Betty was a young girl of her generation. She grew up in a nice neighborhood filled with blue collar workers that was heavy with Polish and Eastern European influences. As a child Betty wasn’t afraid to take risks such as the times she was the first one to jump in the pool when others would wonder how deep it was. She was not afraid of things, which really comes as no surprise. As a family they loved taking trips to the UP, and Betty had a lifelong love for nature and the outdoors. Betty attended grade school at Our Lady Help of Christians and then Pershing High School, graduating in1965 where she was as a member of the National Honor Society. From there Betty went to Wayne State, but she later transferred to MSU. She graduated from MSU with a degree in chemistry.
Not to be forgotten during her years as a young woman was Betty’s introduction to the man who would change the course of her life forever. His name was Mark Barodicz, and they were introduced by a high school friend by the name of Betty Deren. They began dating and were married after college. Together they were blessed with the births of two children, Valerie in 1971 and Dan in 1975. They first settled in Chicago, but when Valerie was a toddler the family moved to Battle Creek, Michigan. Betty was a caring mother who was very involved in the lives of her children. She regularly read to them, was attentive to their needs, and she was there for her children in ways both great and small. She sewed and mended their clothes and made some pretty memorable Halloween costumes for the kids when they were young. Betty firmly believed in letting her children find their own way, but she was always there to pick them up or to be sure that they didn’t fall too hard. In Battle Creek she was a great neighbor and always fit right in with her children and their friends. Although her marriage ended in divorce after nearly 20 years, Betty was always so grateful for the children they shared. One of the proudest moments of her life was when Dan got married, and Betty was able to embrace Michelle as a daughter.
Following her divorce, Betty entered the workforce again. She had a few jobs before eventually landing a job as a chemist doing food testing with the State of Michigan. Betty truly liked her job, and over the years her work required some travel including throughout the state and also across the country. This was fine with her since Betty did enjoy traveling. In 2008, she took a memorable trip to Alaska with her kids. This was an amazing trip when she really splurged, treating herself and her kids to a lavish vacation for two entire weeks. As she got older Betty also branched out and did more things for herself. She took a memorable road trip across the country with her daughter, Valerie. Whenever she traveled, Betty liked supporting the mom and pop hotels and restaurants and also visiting the national parks. In 2012, Betty officially retired.
Always one to be busy, Betty was a woman of many interests. She was an avid gardener for years and also loved cooking for her family using the fresh produce that she grew. Betty took great pride in cooking from scratch including many of the traditional Polish dishes she learned from her mother while growing up. Although she wasn’t much of a music person, Betty did enjoy county music and the outlaw country music station.
As her family and friends can attest, there was no one quite like Betty. She was strong and determined, which is perhaps what helped her beat breast cancer twice, and she was never one to complain or gossip. A staunch union person, Betty was a Democrat who believed in fighting for rights, equality, and justice. She believed in questioning things and doing what was right, and she was a kind person who did things for others, but only behind the scenes. Betty was a member of AA for 34 years, and she fully embraced their principles and was faithful to their Tuesday meetings. Although she wasn’t religious, she did have a spiritual side, and she was so proud of her Polish heritage. Betty wasn’t one to look for the dragons, but she was willing to slay them if they got in the way. She taught so many invaluable lessons like looking forward not backward, to do the work, and that people matter more than anything else.
With a life that spanned times of great change in the world around her, Betty Barry was a blessing in the lives of everyone she met. She was a no glitz or glamour kind of person who had a great sense of humor, even if it was a little off the wall at times. Betty deeply loved her children, and she was supportive, easy to confide in, and deeply devoted to the ones she loved. Deeply loved, she will be forever missed.
Betty Barry , age 69, passed away unexpectedly at her home in Haslett. She was born on June 23, 1947 in Detroit, the daughter of Leonard and Helen (Bladowski) Olbrot and was a graduate of MSU. Betty worked for the state of Michigan as a chemist, retiring in 2012. Learn more about Betty and visit with family and friends on Thursday from 5-8pm at the Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive; Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900. A memorial service will be held Friday at 11am. Members of her family include her two children: Valerie Barry and Dan (Michelle) Barry, her 3 siblings: Connie ( Frank) Geraci, Phyllis (Andy) Lefebvre and John (Teri) Olbrot. She was preceded in death by her parents and her sister Eileen Marie Olbrot. Please visit Betty’s personal web page at www.BetzlerFuneralHome.com, where you can archive a favorite memory or photo and sign her online guestbook before coming to the funeral home.