Where Food, Drinks & Stories Are Shared

Helen Barrett

May 22, 1918 - October 20, 2022
Kalamazoo, MI


Mass of Christian Burial

Wednesday, November 16, 2022
11:00 AM EST
St. Joseph Catholic Church
936 Lake Street
Kalamazoo, MI 49001

The family will receive friends at the church one hour prior to the Mass.

Web Site


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.

Acension Living Borgess Place
3057 Gull Road
Kalamazoo, MI 49048
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

Taylor's Florist and Gifts
215 E. Michigan Ave.
Paw Paw, MI 49079
(269) 657-6256
Driving Directions
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


As her family and friends can surely attest, Helen Barrett truly understood the secret to a life well lived. She was a constant source of strength for others, even in the most difficult of times, and she always had an encouraging word to share. Nothing brought Helen greater joy than spending time with her loved ones, even in the simplest, everyday moments. She was well known for her solid work ethic and for the faith that formed the unshakeable foundation of her life. Dearly loved, Helen will be forever missed by those who knew her best.

Although America had hoped to remain neutral during WWI, those hopes were dashed after repeated acts of hostility threatened the freedom America had always known. As countless young men answered the call to serve, the flu pandemic created added turmoil around the globe. Despite the trials of the day, there was much to celebrate in the lives of Frank and Gladys (Wrisley) Reddy as they announced the birth of the baby girl they named Helen on May 22, 1918, in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Growing up, Helen was a typical young girl of her generation in many ways. She was the one of the seven Reddy children raised on the family farm, located on land that is now the Kalamazoo Airport. She and her siblings Vincent, Lucille, Mary, Jim, Rita, and Theresa learned the value of hard work at an early age. Her father was a first-generation American who worked very hard to support his family. The strong work ethic from farm life would serve her well for her entire life. While pursuing her education, she attended the nearby school on the corner of Kilgore and Sprinkle and St. Augustine School, later going on to attend Parson’s Business School as well.

New and exciting changes were on the horizon for Helen as she met the man who would quickly become the love of her life. His name was Walter Barrett, and the two originally connected at a dance. Both sensed an instant spark between them, and over time their relationship continued to blossom into something truly special. With a desire to spend the rest of their lives together, Helen and Walter were married at St. Augustine Catholic Church on July 13, 1940. They would go on to spend over fifty wonderful years together.

All who knew Helen can surely agree that, of all the things she loved in life, she treasured her family above all else. She and Walter were overjoyed to welcome their beloved children, Tom, Sheila, Terry, Mary Kay, and Jane, into their hearts and home. Helen thrived in her role as a mother and devoted herself to raising her children. She was a strict parent when she needed to be, but her discipline was always deeply rooted in love. While her husband, Walter, supported them by working tirelessly in the grocery business, Helen stayed home to remain close to her children. She was so proud to watch them grow into kind and hardworking individuals. Later in life, Helen was thrilled to become a grandmother and even a great-grandmother. She truly considered herself blessed to be surrounded by so many loved ones all throughout her life.

Helen learned the value of hard work at an early age, and she always knew just what to do to get the job done. When Walter retired, she went to work at Upjohn, where she would spend more than ten years. Helen was never afraid to work long and hard. Upon her well-deserved retirement, Walter made the day memorable by having her picked up in a limo and surprising her with roses.

Though life was never easy, Helen faced every challenge with resilience, determination, and trust in God. When her husband passed away in 1993, she leaned heavily on her faith and on her loved ones for support while working to overcome her grief. Helen was a longtime member of St. Mary Church and later St. Joseph Catholic Church. She liked to visit the Sisters at Nazareth as her sister-in-law, Sister Augustine, served as a nun there.

Never one to sit still for long, Helen pursued many hobbies to stay busy in her free time. She loved to spend time in the kitchen, cooking and baking for her friends and family. Helen’s Christmas rum balls were a favorite holiday treat, and she also liked to make melting moments cookies and cinnamon rolls from a family recipe. Each year she put a special effort into making Thanksgiving and Christmas meals especially wonderful. There was always a feast of turkey, shrimp, and corned beef after the midnight Mass. Helen could often be found reading the Kalamazoo Gazette. She enjoyed traveling around the country and even took a cruise. Helen liked to visit her family members at every opportunity.

When reflecting on the life of Helen Barrett, it is easy to see both her unwavering strength and her unconditional love for her family. She was a shining example of faith and kindness, and she was always willing to go above and beyond to serve others. A loving wife and mother, Helen was overjoyed to watch her family tree grow to include so many members. She strove to care for those around her in whatever way she could, touching the lives of so many in the process. Though she will be deeply missed, Helen leaves behind a priceless legacy that her loved ones will be proud to carry on in her footsteps.

Helen Barrett, age 104, of Kalamazoo died on Thursday, October 20, 2022. She was born on May 22, 1918 and has lived her entire life in the Kalamazoo area. Members of her family include her children: Tom (Pat) Barrett, Shelia (Al) Sherman, Terry ( Jeannie) Barrett Mary Kay Patterson, Jane (Doug) Brewer; 12 grandchildren; numerous great grandchildren, great great and great great great grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband Walter Barrett in 1993, 6 brothers and sisters and 3 grandchildren Chad Wilson, Shannon Wilson and Laurie Laymon. Cremation has taken place and Mass of Christian Burial will be held on at 11 am on Wednesday, November 16, 2022 at St. Joseph Catholic Church. Burial will be at Mt. Olivet Cemetery. Visit Helens webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories, photos and sign her guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to Ascension Living Borgess Place. Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900