Life Story Funeral Homes®
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Life Story Funeral Homes®
The exclusive providers of the Life Story Experience

Barbara J. Alexander

September 28, 2023
Portage, MI




Barbara J. Alexander

Passed away peacefully at home surrounded by family on September 28, 2023. Barb was born June 24, 1951 in Petoskey, MI the daughter of Bennett and C. Elaine (Sparks) Richardson.

Before moving to town, Barb spent her earliest years on the family farm. In addition to a big brother, Barb was the oldest daughter and helped raise and care for 3 younger sisters. In that role, she brought so much love to the family, and had a lasting impact on all of us. Barb attended and graduated from St. Francis in 1969.

On May 26, 1973, Barb was united in marriage to her loving husband, Chuck Alexander, who survives. The two started their love story in a laundry room of their shared apartment complex at Western Michigan University (WMU). During their 50+ years of marriage, the couple raised an amazing family filled with unconditional love and support with countless traditions and cherished memories.

Barb's homes, both in Portage and the condo in Ludington, were extremely important to her. When not focused on home, she also enjoyed traveling. The summers were mostly spent in Ludington, which was a base for exploring the small towns along the western Michigan coast. February was reserved for a Florida vacation. Orlando and Fort Lauderdale were her favorite spots while in Florida, but the trips down and back were also a big part of the experience. There was generally a spring and fall trip which focused on the east and west coast of the US. Her favorite eastern locations were Savannah, Hilton Head, and Cape Cod. Out west, it was Coronado (San Diego), Newport Beach, and San Francisco.

To celebrate her retirement from WMU in 2011, Barb and Chuck took a 38 day, 21 state, cross country trip to explore areas they were unable to see while working. Barb would say later that the biggest accomplishment was that this was done without a divorce.

Barb had an amazing presence and radiated warmth and caring. This is evidenced by her pursuit of a degree in social work from WMU (awarded in 1973) and her professional career that followed. Whether it was early in her career at WMU admissions, followed by the Oakwood Neighborhood Association and Senior Services, or finally when she returned to her alma mater in the Teacher Certification office, her passion for helping others always shone through.

Barb greeted everyone with a warm smile and her trademark sense of humor. She always treated everyone with respect and went out of her way to connect on a personal level. She made an impact on countless lives, including those of her co-workers who became some of her dearest friends. It should be said, though, that Barb always considered being a mom as her most important role and highest priority.

Barb had a keen and effortless sense of style. Her attention to detail permeated the hundreds of events she planned or participated in. Whether she was attending a wedding or donning the brown and gold at a WMU sporting event, she always lit up the room with her grace and presence. She enjoyed shopping, especially during her times in Ludington and could often be found frequenting the local shops searching for unique and personalized home furnishings or gifts for her friends and family. She truly had a generous spirit and brought sophistication and beauty to everything she did.

While everyone knew and loved Barb, there are three special children who affectionately knew her as "Boo". Boo was a tremendous grandma and could not have been more supportive or proud of her grandkids. She embraced this role and spent countless hours playing games, organizing tea parties, reading, crafting, and just generally showering them with love and affection (and "squeaky" kisses). She enjoyed spending quality time with them around Ludington or on vacations to Florida. No matter the location, Boo was always up early in the morning making her famous pancakes for everyone.

In addition to Chuck, also surviving are her children, Jeff Alexander, Kim (Bradley) Ritter; 3 grandchildren, Aiden Alexander, Graham and Eliza Ritter; brother and sisters, Jerry (Ann Kirby) Richardson, Mary Waugh, Nancy (Rob) McLellan, Laurie Richardson; mother-in-law, Irene Alexander; and many nieces and nephews.

A memorial visitation luncheon will be held on Saturday, October 7th from 2-4 pm at the Langeland Family Funeral Homes Burial and Cremation Services, 3926 S 9th Street, Kalamazoo, MI 49009. A funeral mass, with reception following, will be held on Wednesday, October 11th at 11 am at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, 513 Howard St, Petoskey, MI 49770. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the Glioblastoma Research Organization. To view Barb's personalized webpage please visit