BALTIMORE, Md. — Our dear mother passed away very suddenly on Nov. 22, 2013, after 85 years on this good earth.
She was born Elizabeth Jane Burt in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. This girl we all know as Betty was raised by her loving mother with the help of her six brothers and her sister because her father died at an early age. The family struggled through the Depression and World War II, which made her appreciate the little things in life, as did so many of her generation. Mom’s schooling and small town life in Bessemer, Mich ., created a happy environment of which she often spoke.
After World War II, Betty fell in love with a discharged sailor from the town next door in the Upper Peninsula, the man you know as Bob, Betty’s husband, Robert Mazurek. After a courtship of two years, they were married and started on a journey that lasted 64 years. Their journey together began in Milwaukee and the small town of Green Bay, Wis. Soon thereafter their first child came, then another, then another, then another, then another, then another, then another, then another and then another.
Eventually, they moved to Baltimore, where they had their last child and the clan had grown to include nine children. The only true Baltimore native and youngest child, Nancy, always said “they saved the best for last.” All nine of Betty’s children are here today, along with her husband, Bob, their spouses, seven grandchildren and a soon-to-be great-grandchild, to celebrate her life.
While taking care of the family in Green Bay, Betty fell whole-heartedly for a football team named the Green Bay Packers, to which she was a devoted fan for the rest of her life. On game days, she proudly wore the team colors, green and yellow, and of course for the really big games, broke out her cheesehead hat.
With very little extra money on hand, Betty, similar to her own mother, created a strict budget and a happy home life for her family. A sense of values based on Christian belief, good home-cooked meals and unending love for her husband and children is what she gave to the family. She accepted and recognized that everyone had their own strengths and weaknesses and ensured they knew they were special to her.
No matter how little money the family had, Betty always provided the family, along with any neighborhood friends brought to the table (and there were many), with three square meals a day. Her cooking skills were extraordinary and appreciated by everyone. She is famous for her meat pasties, pork roast, homemade raspberry jam and ever-present chocolate chip cookies.
Eventually, Bob’s career took them to Atlanta and Kansas City. Never truly feeling at home in either town, Betty decided they should retire to the Baltimore area. They still have good friends there, not to mention a new granddaughter had arrived. They could not have chosen a better place to settle, since they were able to be there for six other grandkids’ births. Betty, now known as Grandma, loved all of her grandkids dearly. She babysat, changed diapers, cooked meals, mentored, nurtured, hugged and cherished them. She was there for baptisms, sporting events, first Holy Communions, plays and graduations. It is easy to say that Betty had a great influence on the next generation of Mazureks.
An unforeseen reward of moving to Baltimore was the ability of the family to gather for holiday and birthday celebrations at Mom and Dad’s home. Betty ensured a grand time was had by all. Just like the early days, a new face was welcomed with open arms and was made to feel like one of the family. This was particularly true at Christmas time, when Mom made sure that everyone received that “special” gift.
Although Mom and Dad lived in and traveled to many places, Mom always enjoyed the simple things in life. She loved a good book, having a cup of coffee and conversation with a friend, a quiet summer night rocking away on the front porch, watching the Cardinals feed outside the kitchen window after a snowfall, being the straight man for Dad’s jokes, and of course, making those wonderful meals for all of us to enjoy. Betty truly enjoyed her neighbors and friends in the Hereford area. But most of all, she loved the time she spent with her long ago discharged sailor-turned-accountant and husband, Bob.
No matter what you called her — Betty, Mom or Grandma — she was a very strong-willed woman who stayed true to her values, convictions and beliefs throughout her life. But above all, she was a very loving person who will never know how many lives she has touched and how much her presence will be missed. For the family, her loving spirit will carry on in all of us.--