Life Story / Obituary
With a huge heart and passion for life, Sharon “Shari” Lee Svitkovich lived every moment to the fullest. Spontaneous, happy, and always ready to dance, Shari was a spitfire who welcomed every day as a gift and every person as a friend. Whether tending her flowers, singing a favorite tune, traveling, cooking for loved ones, or facing life’s challenges, Shari chose joy at every turn. In doing so, she proved a powerful role model for all who were blessed to know her. A devoted and cherished mother, grandmother, sister, and friend, Shari will long be remembered and so dearly missed.
After years of misery brought on by the Great Depression and World War II, 1949 marked significant postwar prosperity as sales of cars, televisions, and other goods were demanded by a consumer society. The establishment of NATO, the first sale of a VW Beetle in the US, the first successful television sitcom, and the first Polaroid camera marked 1949 as a year of hope, growth, and consumerism. The nation’s focus was on family and building a brighter future. Nowhere was there more hope than in the home of Joseph and Edna (Pape) Becker as they welcomed their daughter Shari on November 20, 1949.
The youngest of the 17 Becker children, Shari grew up in a home centered on German and Catholic traditions. The family’s home was in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, at N. 3027 1st Street. As the family grew, the large house was split into small apartments and still remains that way today. Shari’s father was a floor man in a factory. He often worked double shifts as a manager to support the family, while Shari’s mother was a homemaker. The family was very close. The older children helped tend to the younger ones. Her family attended the same Catholic Church down the street from their house, and Christmas was spent at home around a big silver tree, with one of her brothers playing Santa Claus. Shari would slide down the coal shoot when she was a young child, playing hide and seek with her siblings.
Sharon attended St. Elizabeth’s School through the 9th grade. As her mother was dying of cancer, Shari spent most of her school years caring for her mother. Though she returned to school several times, she never completed high school. Sadly, her mother passed away when Sharon was 16 years old. While in high school, Shari sang in the choir. The choir students would often gather in a large stairwell in the school/church and sing, sounding beautiful and angelic. Shari loved the days that she joined them. While Shari loved to sing, she loved dancing even more! She danced all the time, everywhere she could, and even danced for a local TV show similar to American Band Stand!
While working as a waitress at a local bar, Shari met the bartender Louis Newly, and, in time, they began dating. Over their four-year courtship, Louis was offered a job at a large company called Kearny and Trucker in Milwaukee as a level 5 systems analyst. Setting their hearts on building a future together, the couple married in the summer of 1974 in Milwaukee and honeymooned at Disney.
The newlyweds settled in Milwaukee, and soon after, they moved to Arlington, Texas. Five years later, they moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where they remained. Shari and Louis were blessed to welcome their daughter, Stacy Lyn, to their family on October 10, 1977. Shari devoted herself to being a homemaker, creating a loving and supportive home for her family. Shari loved animals and delighted in the deer, rabbits, groundhogs, turkeys, peacocks, and more who often visited her home’s huge backyard. In addition to her pet dogs, cats, and a dwarf lion-head bunny, Buddy Shari also had dogs she would train and show.
The family loved traveling and camping. They camped in the Rocky, Smokey, and Porcupine Mountains, Leelanau State Park in Michigan, Pictured Rocks, Soo Locks, and Mackinac Island. Unfortunately, Shari and Lou divorced when Stacy was in high school, but Shari and Louis independently kept up the camping and traveling traditions with Stacy. Shari would take Stacy often to Milwaukee to visit family. A loving, protective, and very strict parent, Shari also loved dancing to any music that had a beat to dance to, watching scary movies, and playing video games with Stacy. For no particular reason, she would spontaneously dance with Stacy. She also would get a special thrill out of waiting for the scariest movie scene and scaring others watching with her. Stacy’s peers thought she was so cool for playing video games and listening to their music.
Shari always chose to find the bright spots in everything and found pleasure in many things, including gardening, good meals, friendship, and sharing laughs. She loved to tend her flower garden, watching the hummingbirds and marveling at all the beautiful blooms. Raised as a big meat and potatoes girl, she loved her steaks or anything with beef. She enjoyed pizza, Mexican food, and her all-time favorite stuffed cabbage! Her favorite restaurants were Beltline Bar for Mexican and Olive Garden. She loved cooking pork chops, homemade pizza, and stuffed cabbage.
Along with her childhood dresser, she treasured her mother’s cooking knives and cast iron pots and pans, which helped ensure the success of the Beckers Special” goulash she enjoyed making. Shari belonged to a bible study group with amazing women she became close friends with, and she also enjoyed video games, camping, hiking, and playing with her granddaughter Mila. Every moment shared with her granddaughters, Samantha and Mila, and great-granddaughters, Elaina and Faya, was a cherished gift.
Always laughing with her family and friends, Shari showed all of us how to live wholeheartedly. Though the world feels significantly duller in the absence of Shari’s bright and beautiful presence, may we find peace in our many wonderful memories and in the honor of carrying Shari’s loving legacy forward. In each moment we dance with abandon, lift our voices in song, explore Nature’s wonders, cheer on our loved ones, and choose faith and hope over fear, we celebrate all the ways Shari gifted our lives. In this way, we keep her vibrant spirit alive and inspiring others as she so inspired us.