Barbara Leone Park
Visitation: Saturday, May 22, from 2 - 3 pm at Stroo Funeral Home followed by the service at 3 pm
The service for Barbara will be livestreamed using the following link, https://www.facebook.com/Stroo-Funeral-Home-Inc-2209569385786952/
It is with profound sadness we announce the passing of Barbara Leone Park, our loving and devoted mother, grandmother and friend to all whose lives she touched, on Monday, March 1, 2021. Barbara spent her last day surrounded by the love of her family and caregivers by her side. Barbara passed in her sleep at the age of 93 from complications resulting from a stroke which occurred the year preceding her death.
Barbara lived independently in a cozy condo in Kentwood, MI until the stroke took away her independence in January of 2020. After the stroke, Barbara was relocated to Dimondale Nursing Care Center in Dimondale, MI to be closer to her daughter and grandchildren in the Lansing area. Despite the visitation restrictions associated with the Coronavirus pandemic, Barbara’s friends and family found ways to stay connected by visiting her through the window, video calls, and sending letters and pictures of the family. Barbara was also loved by the staff at Dimondale Nursing Care Center who cared for her and assisted with her activities of daily living. The family is grateful for the excellent care she received by the wonderful staff at Dimondale Nursing Care Center.
Barbara was born and raised during the Great Depression. Her upbringing shaped her fighting and unwavering spirit. Barbara’s fighting spirit got her through the bleak childhood years in the depression, and into her teen years when she had to drop out of high-school to work in a factory making underwear for the soldiers in WWII.
Barbara was married to W.M Rich December, 1944, gave birth to Gerry Rich in 1946 and Vicki Rich in 1948. Barbara and William Rich were divorced in 1947. Several years later, Barbara found her true love when she married Edward. R. Park in 1952. She gave birth to her third child- Nancy (Park) May in 1954. Edward passed away in 1966.
Barbara continued to fight through life after she became a mother, raising her children as a single mother at times throughout the 1940’s, 50’s & 60’s.
Barbara’s spirit was truly tested after the birth of her second child, Vicki Rich, when she discovered during Vicki’s early years that she was developmentally disabled. She remained Vicki’s primary caregiver into her 80’s. Barbara continued the fight to ensure Vicki’s access to the resources and healthcare needed to thrive despite Vicki’s developmental disabilities right up until the stroke made that impossible.
At the age of 50, Barbara returned to high school attending night classes after working her shifts as a seamstress sewing car seats for GM. She earned her high school diploma from Rodgers High School in 1977. Barbara retired from GM after 16 years of service in 1992. She attended the Eastminster Presbyterian church in Grand Rapids, MI for 3 years.
When asked what she would like to be remembered about her childhood, Barbara said “No one had any money to spend on anything. Food was very scarce. Bean soup was a staple [along with] bread and peanut butter or apple butter (I hated both). The Great Depression was everything you heard about and worse! We lost all. But so did everyone I know. My grandparents were the only people that had steady jobs”.
Barbara’s favorite holiday was Christmas, so it was always important to her to make Christmas special for all of her children, grand-children, great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren.
Barbara is survived by her son Gerry Rich, daughter-in-law Janice Rich, daughters Vicki Rich and Nancy May, and son-in-law Wayne May, and her six grandchildren, 17 great grandchildren and five great-great grandchildren and many half siblings.
Barbara will be remembered for her kind heart, giving nature, and fighting spirit as a rebel in her time.
A memorial service honoring Barbara Park’s life will be held at 3:00 pm on May 22, at Stroo Funeral Home, 1095 68th St. SE, Grand Rapids, MI, with Rev. Deborah McCreary officiating. A family visitation will take place before the memorial service from 2:00pm – 3:00pm. The service for Barbara will be live streamed on the Stroo Funeral Home, Inc. Facebook page. In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for donations to help cover Barbara’s long term care expenses.
STROO FUNERAL HOME
1095 68TH ST SE
GRAND RAPIDS, MI 49508