Life Story Visitation
Thursday, January 13, 2022
4:00 PM to 7:00 PM EST
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Food, drinks, and stories will be shared.
Mass of Christian Burial
Friday, January 14, 2022
11:00 AM EST
St. Joseph Catholic Church
936 Lake St
Kalamazoo, MI 49001
Visitation will be held one-hour prior at church.
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.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
A gentle, warm-hearted soul, Jill Barry lived a life rich in faith, family, and friends. Jill embodied the principles she believed in; she loved with all of her heart, generously gave of her gifts, and treated everyone with grace and kindness. Jill possessed a naturally bubbly personality that lit up every room she entered. A deeply compassionate, grateful, and fun person, Jill was the person everyone wanted to be with. Everyone who spent time with her, whether a minute or a lifetime, felt better for being in her good company. Jill embraced every moment as a gift and every person as a friend. In so doing, she proved a powerful role model of how to live a whole-hearted life. A devoted wife, sister, daughter, and friend, Jill will long be remembered and ever so missed.
As the 1970s were drawing to a close, countless new developments provided us with glimpses into how much the cultural fabric would be changing in America during the eighties. Technology was getting smaller as Sony introduced the Walkman and family time was forever changed with the release of the general knowledge game Trivial Pursuit. While Superman and Rocky II dominated the big screen, songs such as the Village People’s “Y.M.C.A.” and Paul McCartney’s “Coming Up” filled the airwaves. During this exciting time, Ron and Phylis (Cooley) Welch welcomed their daughter, Jill, into their family on September 20, 1979.
Growing up as one of the five Welch kids, Jill’s early years were rooted in faith and family. From a young age, Jill had a strong belief and trust in God. Her strong Catholic faith became the cornerstone of her life, inspiring her to practice the golden rule, spread kindness, and be of service to others. Naturally humble, Jill never needed the spotlight. Instead, she was completely content to give her support and help make things happen. As a child, she and her brother would watch the trains go by near where they lived. He always told her, “You count the cars. I’ll count the engines!”
Jill had a quirky sense of humor. She enjoyed listening to Weird Al Yankovic, posting her puns on Facebook, and naming everything, including her car. She even named a goose statue on her front porch, Bruce the Goose, and dressed him up for every holiday. Jill also had a natural way of making people feel special. With her warm smile, charm, and genuine interest, she was a person everyone liked, felt comfortable with, and wanted to talk to.
After playing middle school basketball, which she did not excel at, Jill found a place to shine with her high school drama club. During her time as a student at Hackett High School, Jill acted in plays and was also part of the stage crew. A huge Beatles fan, Jill collected band memorabilia, including vinyl albums and anything to do with Paul McCartney. She also met the love of her life, Michael Barry, during these years, though they didn’t begin dating until later when they reconnected at church.
Jill continued her education at Kalamazoo Valley Community College after graduating from high school. As she earned her associate’s degree, she also worked as the college basketball team’s manager. She loved being around the team, keeping stats on the computer, and helping the coach, her dad, and the assistant coach, her sister.
In time, she and Mike began dating. Mike was quickly attracted by what a good, easy-going, faith-centered person Jill was. He was taken by how Jill took things as they came, and when overwhelmed, how she quieted herself and found a positive way forward. It wasn’t long before the couple was joyfully anticipating spending their lives together, and Mike asked her to marry him at Bronson Park under Candy Cane Lane.
Jill and Mike married and joyfully began making their home with one another. They shared a love of many things, including lighthouses and their cat. Many trips were taken throughout Michigan to see and photograph lighthouses. Jill had a natural eye and was a very good photographer. She took more pictures than one could count and relished posting pictures of her cat on social media and making her own lighthouse calendar. Once, while preparing to travel with Mike to one of her favorite places, Mackinac Island, Jill discovered she’d lost her camera’s memory card. They ended up driving far out of the way just to find a Walmart and purchase a memory card. The next day, to their amusement, they found the memory card on the floor of the car.
Continuing and passing on the traditions she loved was important to Jill. Whether frosting Christmas cookies, celebrating Oberon Day, or gathering for corned beef, cabbage, and Guinness on St. Patrick’s Day, Jill cherished every moment she shared with her family. She documented every special moment on film, becoming quite good at taking selfies for the entire family, always finding a way to fit one more person in the shot.
Without a doubt, Jill’s sudden departure leaves us stunned. As we try to imagine life in her absence, may we find comfort in our many treasured memories of the beautiful woman we were so blessed to know. May we also find comfort in the honor of carrying her legacy of grace, kindness, and love forward. In every moment we cheer on the Detroit Tigers, curl up to watch a movie, explore the wonders to be found at Mackinac Island and St. Ignace, or sing along to a favorite Beatles tune, we celebrate the many ways Jill gifted our lives. In this way, we keep her spirit alive and inspiring others as she so inspired each of us.
Jill Barry of Kalamazoo, age 42, died unexpectedly on January 6, 2022. Jill was preceded in death by her mother. Surviving are her husband, Michael; father, Ron Welch; siblings: Ronald “Kipp” Welch Jr., Joseph (Amie) Welch, Patrick (fiancé Trista Young) Welch, and Maureen (Jesse) Brown; and several nieces and nephews. Cremation has taken place. Please join us at a Life Story Visitation where food, drinks, and stories will be shared on Thursday (JAN 13) 4-7 PM at Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo 269-375-2900. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Friday (JAN 14) 11 AM at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 936 Lake Street, Kalamazoo, with visitation one hour prior. Visit Jill’s webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories, photos, and sign her guestbook. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Cat Nap Lodge Community Center or St. Joseph Catholic Church.