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Life Story / Obituary
When reflecting on the life of Barbara Kirkpatrick, it is easy to see both her unwavering strength and unconditional love for her family. She was always willing to go above and beyond to serve others in ways both great and small. A friend to all, Barbara was known for her selfless heart and her insatiable zest for life that was contagious to all who were near. Nothing brought her greater joy than spending time with her loved ones, even in the simplest of moments. Forever loved, Barbara will be deeply missed by those who knew her best.
It was great to be an American during the year 1919. As America and our allies were victorious with the end of WWI, we were recognized as a world power for the first time. With the harsh realities of the flu pandemic behind us, we were poised for the exciting decade that became known as the Roaring Twenties. Newspapers everywhere began printing crossword puzzles, pop-up toasters were invented, and Charlie Chaplin entertained us with his silent movies. This year also brought great joy to Charles and Christine (Jensen) Dagen for a much more personal reason as they announced the birth of the baby girl they named Barbara on March 16, 1919, in Muskegon, Michigan.
In many ways, Barbra was a typical young girl of her generation. She was raised on the family farm as one of six children. Growing up in the Great Depression was not easy for Barbara, but the Dagen family worked tirelessly to make ends meet. While pursuing her education, she graduated from local Muskegon schools before moving to Grand Rapids, Michigan, in order to attend Grand Rapids Jr. College. Barbara then went to Blodgett Memorial Hospital Nursing School.
New and exciting changes were on the horizon for Barbara as she met the man who would soon become the love of her life. His name was Richard Kirkpatrick, and the two first met while he was a patient in the hospital she worked at after suffering an accident. He was there for over a year, and Barbara was just finishing her nursing training while Richard was attending his ongoing doctor’s visits. Their relationship quickly blossomed into something truly special, and with a desire to spend the rest of their lives together Barbara and Richard were married on September 22, 1945, at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Grand Rapids.
All who knew Barbara can surely agree that, of all the things she loved in life, she treasured her loved ones above all else. She and Richard were overjoyed to welcome their daughters, Kristin and Karen, into their hearts and home. Barbara thrived in her role as a mother and always worked hard to provide for her daughters. Later in life, she was thrilled to become a grandmother and even a great-grandmother. Barbara always considered herself blessed to be surrounded by so many.
Barbara worked as a registered nurse for many years. Throughout her career she was employed in various locations around Michigan, including Grand Rapids, Lansing, Grand Haven, and Kalamazoo. Barbara enjoyed seeing the advances in medicine over the decades, and she loved interacting with her fellow nurses and coworkers even after her retirement. As a serving member of her community, she liked being able to help others through her career.
Never one to sit still for long, Barbara pursued many hobbies to stay busy in her free time. She loved knitting and made hundreds of mittens for her children and church bazaars. Barbara was also an avid seamstress, making special dresses for her daughters, granddaughters, and her great-granddaughter. She liked spending time in the kitchen and was known for her lasagna and her homemade vegetable beef soup, recipes which will be handed down for generations. Barbara was a big fan of the Chicago Cubs, and went on several bus trips to Wrigley Field to happily cheer them on from the crowded stadium seats. She and Richard also had season tickets to Michigan State University football games as he was a Spartan graduate. Travelling the world was often on her list of things to do, with Italy being a favorite destination. She was so thrilled to make it to Italy multiple times including with Kalamazoo College on the Ark Tour and also with both of her grandchildren - under the condition that they took Latin in school. For 49 years, Barbara was a devoted member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Kalamazoo. She was active in the Altar Guild for much of that time, helping to set up the altar for services or stage the church for weddings and special events.
As her family and friends can surely attest, Barbara Kirkpatrick truly understood the secret to a life well lived. She was a constant source of strength, even in the most difficult of times, and she always had an encouraging word to say. A devoted wife and mother, Barbara was so proud to watch her family tree grow to include so many members. She was known for her determination and her kindness. Though she will be dearly missed, Barbara leaves behind a priceless legacy that her loved ones will be proud to carry on in her footsteps.
Barbara Kirkpatrick, of Kalamazoo, age 103, died on February 6, 2023. She is preceded in death by her husband. Surviving are her children: Kristin Kirkpatrick and Karen (George) Reck; grand-children: Kelly Reck and Michael Reck; and great-granddaughter, Sarah (Brandon) Thomas. Funeral services will be held Thursday, March 2, 2023 at 11 AM at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 247 W. Lovell St., Kalamazoo. Visit Barbara’s webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories, photos, and sign her guestbook. As it is the Lenten season, instead of flowers please make a donation in her memory to St. Luke’s Episcopal Church Altar Guild, Park Village Pines Assisted Living, or Centrica Care Navigators. Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo 269-375-2900.