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Life Story / Obituary
Arlene Barrett was a loving mother and grandmother. A lifelong member of the St. Thomas Apostle Church, she faithfully served her church community for many years. She had a real gift for making her home a welcoming place for any family member in need. Arlene was known to cook countless meals and was sure to make each and every guest feel at home. She had an immense love for her family. She was especially thrilled when she was blessed with great-grandchildren. Arlene leaves behind a legacy of being generous and will be deeply missed and lovingly remembered by her many special friends and family.
In the year 1938, Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act, which established the first minimum wage and the forty-hour workweek. Orson Welles's radio adaptation of The War of the Worlds was broadcast causing panic among many listeners who thought it was a live news broadcast. The most anticipated sporting events of the 20th century was held where the underdog Seabiscuit defeated War Admiral at the Pimlico Race Course making history! In Ludington, Michigan, Joseph A. and Virginia R. (Maternowski) Betka welcomed home their newborn daughter, Arlene Mary, born on February 13th. Her birth brought much happiness to the family home.
Growing up, Arlene learned the value of a hard day’s work working alongside her father and mother on their family farm. One of six children, they all pitched in milking cows, hauling hay, churning butter, and picking the fruits and vegetables. Eventually, they all learned to drive the tractor and tended to the cows and chickens as well. They have many fond memories of the times they spent in the fields. As young adults, they specifically remember when their farm was visited by three UFOs in the summer of 1963. They hovered around silently for quite a while and Arlene and her siblings, Maryann and Mikey kept their eyes on them. Later that same afternoon, the UFOs returned and they saw them through the window shades! She attended St. Stanislaus Catholic School and did not go on to finish school, although Arlene later received her GED. Later in life, she became a licensed realtor.
Arlene was a woman of many special hobbies and interests yet treasured her role as a mother the best! She raised four wonderful children; Patricia, Michelle, Maxine, and Ronald. She instilled in her children the foundation of faith and modeled for them treating others with kindness. She cherished each and every holiday they spent together over the years. For countless Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter gatherings, Arlene made the entire dinner for the whole family to enjoy! Nothing brought more joy to her heart than full bellies and laughter! As a family, they also enjoyed many years of camping, boating, and lakeshore adventures together.
A woman who never took life for granted, Arlene enjoyed many of life’s simple pleasures. She was an avid dancer her whole life and enjoyed the music of Neil Diamond, Johnny Cash, Barbara Streisand, Tom Jones, Andy Williams, and Engelbert Humperdink! Her children were very accustomed to her having music on during the holidays and any time she had guests over. She also enjoyed gardening, especially tending to her flower beds. In addition to her fabulous cooking, she was also well known as a terrific baker! She especially enjoyed baking when the family was gathered together. Her kitchen was her happy place. However, whenever she did have a chance to go out to eat for dinner she enjoyed Brann’s Steakhouse for their steak and lobster! Strong in her faith life, it was no surprise that her favorite books were her daily devotions, the Bible, and the diary of Mother Teresa.
There was no doubt that she was a loving grandmother and savored the time she spent with her great-grandchildren; Andrew McConnell, Alyviah Mason, Kayleb and Trey Rood, Christian, Caylee, and Colt Miller, Aspen Adkins, Taylor, Morgan, Kylie, and Carter Barrett, and Ari Mier. She was proud of each and every one of them. Arlene was a wonderful person to know and to love and her memories are sure to endure forever. May her loved ones never doubt the unconditional love she held in her heart for each of them over the years.
Arlene Mary Barrett (Betka) of Grand Rapids, Michigan, age 81, passed away at her home on September 18, 2019. She was born on February 16, 1938, in Ludington, MI to Joseph Sr. and Regina Betka. Arlene retired from Lacks as a dispatcher but also worked as a food service director for several Catholic Schools. In retirement, Arlene kept busy as a volunteer at St. Thomas School, decorating cakes at Walmart Bakery part-time and gardening. She was preceded in death by a daughter, Maxine (Barrett) Rood; sister, Jeanette Belke, and brother, Joseph Betka Jr. Arlene is survived by her children, Patricia (Barrett) Kooy, Michelle Mier and Ronald Barrett; son-in-law, Richard Rood; stepsons, Steve (Linda) Barrett and Doug Barrett; grandchildren, Patrick Ruszkowski, Ryan (Amber) Rood, Erica (Chris) Miller, Ricki (Nigel) Adkins, Rebeckah Mier, Christopher (Kelly) Mier, Benjamin Mier, Hannah Fiorenzo, Emma Fiorenzo, Nathan (Nicole) Barrett, Stephanie Barrett and Joshua (Kaitlyn) Barrett; 12 great-grandchildren; sisters, Mary Ann (Larry) Chaffee and Virginia Bentz; brother, Alvin Betka; Raymond (Mary) Barrett and many nieces, nephews and friends. The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10:30 AM on Wednesday, September 25, 2019, at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church, 1449 Wilcox Park Dr. SE. Family and friends will gather with viewing from 6:30-8:30 PM on Tuesday at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW and on Wednesday at church for one hour prior to Mass. Contributions in her memory may be made to the Family Fund c/o Nathan Barrett. Please visit www.heritagelifestory.com to submit a favorite memory or picture or to sign the guestbook online.