Where Food, Drinks & Stories Are Shared

Barbara Ann Duffield

January 18, 1938 - July 23, 2021
Kalamazoo, MI



Thursday, July 29, 2021
4:00 PM to 7:00 PM EDT
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
Kalamazoo Location
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
(269) 375-2900

The Rosary will be recited beginning at 4 PM.

Driving Directions

Mass of Christian Burial

Friday, July 30, 2021
11:00 AM EDT
St. John Bosco Catholic Church
23830 Front St
Mattawan, MI 49071
(269) 668-3312


At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.

Feeding America West Michigan
864 W River Center Dr NE
Comstock Park, MI 49321
(616) 784-3250
Web Site


Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.

1830 S. Westnedge
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
(269) 349-4961
Driving Directions
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


Larger than life. Over the top. Eccentric and enigmatic. This is the Life Story of Barbara Ann Duffield.

Barbara Ann was born on January 18, 1938, in East Liverpool, Ohio. Her father, Joseph Celinscak, emigrated from Croatia in 1908 at the age of 16, and was a butcher who owned a local market in a small village along the Ohio River (Empire, Ohio). Her mother, Barbara Koss, the oldest of eleven, helped run the store until it was lost in a flood. Barbara Ann had an older sister, Kathleen, and an older brother, Joseph.

Barbara Ann graduated from Catholic Central High School and was the first in her family to go to college. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from Mount Mercy College, now Carlow College, in 1959 and worked for several years as a medical records librarian.

While attending a dance at Mount Mercy, Barbara Ann met Dennis Duffield, a handsome young dental student who reminded her of her heartthrob, Elvis Presley. If that weren’t enough, Dennis promised to show her a cadaver! What more could a girl want? Barbara Ann had a life-long fascination with death and mortuary science. True to her utterly unique, wonderfully creative, and playfully mischievous nature, Barbara Ann told Dennis her name was Kitty Desmond, her fantasy stage name. But Dennis could not be deterred. He learned her real name when he called her dorm, exactly one month and eight days later.

Barbara Ann and Dennis married on June 20, 1959. They had four children, David (born 1962), Jeffrey (1964), and twins Denise and Barbara (1968). Barbara Ann gave her children magical childhoods, complete with delicious meals, colorful outfits, unusual toys and dolls, fun-filled vacations, and holidays. She was very involved in their lives: school, sports, band, dance, and theatre. As a chaperone on school field trips, other kids wanted to be in Mrs. Duffield’s group because she was fun and had good snacks. Later, when her children got into a little trouble as teens, other kids feared Mrs. Duffield because they knew she meant business.

Barbara Ann was a spectacular, doting grandmother, or “Grand Mere” as she was called. Her first grandchild, Andrew, arrived in 1989 and was followed by Cody, Anna, Tyler, Joshua, Cameron, Brody, and great-granddaughter Ella Mae. She delighted them all, as she had her own children, with her joyful and child-like imagination, creating fantastic worlds of make believe, funny nicknames, and goofy games. She bought the grandkids outfits and tap shoes for special Christmas performances, held adventurous Easter Egg hunts, and organized “cookie art” parties for New Year’s Eve. She and Dennis took all their grandchildren on train trips to the West coast, boat rides, and other expeditions, creating precious memories for them all.

Family was everything to Barbara Ann. She was a devoted daughter, sister, niece, aunt, wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother who made great efforts to stay in touch with relatives near and far. Her aunts and the extended Koss family were especially dear to her. Barbara Ann was also a loyal friend, maintaining relationships with neighbors and friends from every stage of her life. She was extraordinarily generous, regularly giving gifts to family and friends, always remembering birthdays and anniversaries, always giving.

Barbara Ann lived her life through food, especially baked goods and desserts. Her stories of her life’s major events were always paired with a memory of the food at the time: the sausage from a wedding, a hot fudge sundae from a vacation, bread from a holiday party. Her own pumpkin pie and cheesecake were legendary. She relished eating out and would often take photos of her meals to share with others.

Barbara Ann loved to travel, especially by train, and she loved hotels, collecting reward points at various hotel chains (“I’m Spire Elite!”). She and Dennis regularly traveled throughout Michigan, and to their home states of Ohio and Pennsylvania, to California and Washington DC to see their daughters, and even to Europe. Even after Dennis passed in 2017, Barbara Ann treated her family to summer vacations caravanning throughout Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.

Barbara Ann was an avid and obsessive shopper, looking for bargains, for items she thought family or friends might like, for anything, really. She loved gadgets and technology and was an early adopter of the computers and cell phones that helped her stay in touch with family and friends under all circumstances. No wifi? “Use my hotspot.” Computer battery running low in the car? “Use the power inverter under the seat.”

Barbara Ann wanted every item she might possibly need to be available at all times, filling a purse so large it required its own seat at restaurants, prompting her son, David, to give the purse a name, “Herman.” Over the years, Herman morphed into a custom-made waist bag; one version was so large that grandchildren could sit on it. Sometimes she wore two of them. Need an aspirin, a flashlight, instant coffee? No worries, Herman has it.

Barbara Ann took photos and videos of EVERYTHING: family gatherings, food, a flower that had recently bloomed in the yard, even her wounds. She was compelled to capture, document, and hold on to every moment from her life, even sad ones like death and funerals where photos are generally eschewed. We think this is also why she filled her home to the brim with items of obvious and not-so-obvious value. Receipts, price tags, boarding passes, newspapers from long ago, hotel key cards, straws, to-do lists, magazines. She despised waste and could repurpose anything. Once an item entered the house, it was not likely to leave. We have wondered if this was related to her family’s loss of their store in the flood, or perhaps just her intense love of life, and unwillingness to let anything go.

Barbara Ann had a unique relationship with death. She loved her Previa minivan so much that she wanted to be buried in it, even going so far as to call the state of Michigan to see if it were possible (it isn’t). She was fascinated by mortuary science, yet also always worried that someone she loved would or could die. She sent her children newspaper clippings of tragic events, highlighting the parts to which we should pay attention to keep us safe. When her mother passed away after Barbara Ann’s years of devoted and loving caretaking, she got permission to drive her mother’s body from Michigan back to Ohio by herself. She wanted every minute she could possibly get.

Barbara Ann loved intensely, fiercely, dearly, and unconditionally. She held on to life and love as long as she possibly could. In 2015, she was diagnosed with a series of diseases that were as rare, complicated, and contradictory as Barbara Ann herself. She endured countless hospitalizations, tests, and procedures, expressing frustration when a course of care was ineffective, worry when a new illness was diagnosed. But Barbara Ann faced it all with courage and valor. She never gave up; she wanted life and love, despite the pain.

In her final days, Barbara Ann was surrounded by her children and their spouses. We were able to kiss her, hold her, and tell her what she means to us. Our grief is a gaping chasm that we can only try to fill with our memories. Though we are heartbroken, we take comfort imagining her surrounded by loved ones at a heavenly hotel, with a divine view.

In lieu of flowers, we are asking friends and family to share their own stories of Barbara Ann – anything of special significance or importance, or that best captures her unique spirit and inimitable personality. The stories can be posted at BetzlerLifeStory.com. For those who wish to contribute to charity in her memory, please direct donations in her name to Feeding America West Michigan.

Barbara Ann Duffield, age 83, departed this Earth on July 23, 2021 after a long and determined struggle against various illnesses. Barbara Ann was preceded in death by her husband, Dennis; siblings: Joseph Celinscak and Kathleen Molchan; and grandson: Cody Duffield. Surviving are her children: David (Kimberly) Duffield, Jeffrey Duffield (betrothed Michone), Denise Duffield (Michael Collins), and Barbara Duffield (Adam Sloane); grandchildren: Anna (betrothed Aj), Andrew, Tyler, Joshua, Cameron, and Brody; great-granddaughter: Ella Mae; and nephew and niece: Michael Molchan and Patricia Strecker.

Please join us at a Life Story Visitation on Thursday (JULY 29) 4-7PM at Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo 269-375-2900. The Rosary will be recited at 4PM. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Friday (JULY 30) 11 AM at St. John Bosco Catholic Church in Mattawan. Burial at St. Mary Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, friends and family are asked to share their own special stories of Barbara Ann on her webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com.

View Barbara's memorial video here.