4/26/36 – 11/14/21
Bev had so much spunk and sparkle — she was fun and funny, full of energy, always in motion and also pretty gutsy. She loved to tell how she left college on a whim, hopping a train from Milwaukee to San Francisco in search of independence and adventure. In later years, she became a softer, quieter version of herself, always warm and loving. But the one thing those who knew her well will always think of first is her laughter. So many things struck her as hilarious, and she would giggle until happy tears streamed, bringing everyone along with her. It was infectious and irresistible!
She grew up in Wisconsin, spending long afternoons beside her favorite aunt at the sewing machine. This sparked an interest in home economics and interior design which she pursued at University of Wisconsin Milwaukee and Stout State College Menominee earning her bachelor of science degree. At a Sigma Tau dance she met the man who would become her lifelong love. They were pinned, later married, and just celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary.
Together they designed, built and decorated a small, modern home on a wooded ¼ acre with a bridge over a stream. She began her career as a fabric care consultant under the “stage” name Barbara Lee and later taught home living, clothing and sewing at the Cudahy Adult and Vocational School, Horace Mann Middle School and West Milwaukee High. After a long wait, she welcomed two baby girls. Never forgetting her West coast adventures, they jumped at an opportunity to relocate to Santa Barbara in 1973. Here she began what would become a 30-year stint teaching adult education, first interior design and later sewing, with an emphasis on simplifying and modernizing techniques, eventually introducing students to the commercial serger.
She brought a love of skiing from the Midwest and added tennis, golf and long walks to her list of favorite outdoor activities — even boogie boarded a few times! She participated in gourmet dinner, bridge and mahjong groups. She joined the Assistance League. She travelled, eventually making it to 4 continents, but always insisted that “Santa Barbara is the most beautiful place in the world.”
Family always came first. She and her husband were inseparable and she loved her girls ferociously, making sure they always knew they were the center of her world. She created a beautiful home and was fastidious — friends once threw her a tacky-themed party just to be ironic — though she didn’t shy away getting her hands dirty in the garden or getting on the floor to tickle and tease her grandkids. She painstakingly recreated cherished holiday traditions. Sunday was family day with bike rides around Lake Los Carneros, picnics in the mountains or beachcombing at low tide, always accompanied by donuts cut in half so we could taste more than one. She loved her sweets! She was sweet. We cherish you Mom and miss you dearly.
Bev was preceded in death by her parents, Herbert and Jeanette Retzlaff, and is survived by her husband Chuck, daughters Tracy Freeman (Paul) and Michele Carey (Joe) and four grandchildren: Cole, Parker, Kyle and Diana. Funeral Mass: Monday, December 20th, 11:00am, St. Barbara Parish, Old Mission. In leu of flowers, donations can be made at sbhumane.org for the nine cats who delighted her over the years.
4/26/36 – 11/14/21