Betty, we will miss you.
Betty Louise Parrish died Jan. 17, 2021, as she wished: In her sleep at home. She was 94.
Betty was the much-adored youngest of Irwin and Myrtle Thompson’s four children, vivacious and curious from the start. She was the first in her family to attend college, a proud member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority and a Daughter of the American Revolution, volunteer for many nonprofits, and a devoted wife and mother of four.
The official family story is that Betty met her darling Jack on a blind date after World War II and Jack, who served on a PT boat in the Pacific, then told his buddies he knew he would marry her. But she loved to share that she first caught Jack’s eye at the community pool when they were teenagers from rival high schools in Indianapolis. They married in July 1950, and when a military recruiter tried to talk him into going to Korea shortly after, he pointed to his pretty wife and said, “Are you crazy? I’m never leaving her.”
Betty and Jack grew a classic 1950s idyllic family on a corner lot in a suburb of Dayton, with sons Kyle, David and Jack II, and daughter Susan. Jack’s career took them to Milwaukee, where they and their children were surrounded by friends.
After Jack died in 1981, Betty joined the workforce. She rose to vice president in an insurance company and was active in groups that supported and promoted women executives. She was a woman before her time, and would have made a great CEO in another era.
After retiring, Betty was devoted to her church and friends. She was grateful for the Wauwatosa Avenue United Methodist Church, her dear close friends and many dear friends at Newport West Condominium. She was the heart of the condo’s social committee into her 80s, decorating for holidays, and volunteering for nonprofits. She lived independently her whole life, continuing to drive, have regular gatherings with her “Lunch Bunch” of widowed friends, and run errands for “the older ladies.”
If Jack was her joy, her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren were her pride and delight. Even when some moved away for their own lives, she found ways to show her love, sending homemade cookies in emptied oatmeal containers and frozen meatloaf in abundant tin foil. She was their biggest cheerleader and supporter, particularly proud of the career success of her granddaughters.
She is survived by children Kyle (Ann), David (Mi-Ai), Jack (Debra) and Susan (Jim) Wilke,; grandchildren Kristin Simonis, Bryan (April) Parrish, Marisa (Ben) Schone, Jennifer Crivello, Michael Wilke and Jacquelyn Demmer; and great-grandchildren Jack and Madelyn Simonis, Sofia Crivello, Owen and Dean Parrish, and Evadelle and Estella Demmer.
She was preceded in death by her husband; her parents; siblings, Dorothy, Bob and George, and her nieces and nephews.
Due to the pandemic, burial will be private and there will be a celebration of her life when it is safe to gather again.