Beatrice “Betty” Mae (Brei) Beal, 85, of Baraboo, passed into eternal life with her family by her side on Friday, December 11, 2015, at St. Mary’s Hospital in Madison.
Betty, the daughter of Anton and Thelma (Nelson) Brei, was born on March 2, 1930, in Rozellville, Wisconsin, the second of five children. The family moved to Argyle in southern Wisconsin in the late 1930s, after a fire at the family’s cheese factory. Her father passed away in January 1944, not long after moving the family to Baraboo. Betty often described how enjoyable and convenient it was to walk to Devil’s Lake from the family’s home on Guppy Street at the edge of town, where her widowed mother had room for a large garden and her young brother had room to run.
As a member of the Baraboo High School Class of 1947, Betty was active in Glee Club, Chorus, Thalia, Pep Club and Athletics. She came by her love and aptitude for music partly from her mother, Thelma, who played piano professionally to accompany silent movies.
Upon graduating at age 17, she began working for Dr. John Lobaugh when he established his dental practice above the old Corner Drug at Third and Oak. She met Dr. Lobaugh’s cousin, Warren Virgil Beal, a short time later when he visited the dental office. On June 6, 1953, Betty and Warren were united in marriage at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Baraboo.
Betty and Warren spent 10 years of their early marriage in Mobile, Alabama. During those years Betty enjoyed learning about the local southern cuisine and hospitality and the Gulf Coast seashore. While in Mobile she worked part-time as a secretary for a German professor and sang with a Mobile Bay Area Choral Group. After returning to Baraboo in January of 1965, Betty and Warren renovated a home on the corner of Eighth and Barker streets to suit their growing family. Betty enjoyed the location walking distance to St. Joseph Church and Grade School (where her children attended) and she was a member of the Legion of Mary.
Betty was an accomplished seamstress, enjoyed many crafts, and in particular lent her hand to rosemåling in tribute to her Norwegian heritage. Although Betty never traveled outside of North America, she always had world maps, atlases, and a globe on hand to keep track of where her children, grandchildren, and other relatives traveled to. She was well read and knew about the culture of any area her offspring ventured to before they did.
Betty’s cookbook collection showed an adventurous spirit spanning cultures from Creole to Turkish, Brazilian to Chinese, not to mention her traditional Norwegian and German heritage foods. Her children and grandchildren especially looked forward to her homemade focaccia, braided coffeecakes, Christmas rosettes, and giant heart-shaped shortbreads. Betty and Warren were always planning next year’s vegetable garden, saving seeds from their favorites over the summer and fall to be started indoors during the next year’s early spring. Vegetables and fruits from the garden were constantly being canned, frozen, sun-dried, dehydrated, ratatouilled, and in peak season there were jars of tomatoes, jams and pickles in cupboards where you least expected them.
During their retirement years Betty and Warren appreciated and loved sharing their view of nature at Pine Acres Drive. They made many winter treks south to stay in Gulf Shores, Alabama or Sanibel Island, Florida, where the J.N. Ding Darling Refuge was another favorite for Betty.
Survivors include her children, Ann (Gary) Karch of Glen Ellyn, Illinois, Andrew of Madison, Matthew of Baraboo, Joseph of Chicago, James of Madison, Daniel (Michelle) Beal of Baraboo; grandchildren, David, Aaron, and Samuel Karch, Jacob, Maxwell and Joey Beal, Benjamin and Madelyn Beal; sister Beverly (Bernard) Goman of Plano, Texas, and brother Michael (Rita) Brei of Front Royal, Virginia, as well as nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.
She was preceded in death by her devoted husband, Warren, only four months before; her parents; her daughter, Mary Elizabeth, and son, Thomas Anton; and two sisters, Patricia Shaw and Shirley Harrison.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015, at St. Joseph Catholic Church with Father Jay Poster officiating. Visitation will be held from 10 a.m. until the time of mass at the church. Burial will follow at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the St. Joseph Catholic Church, to The Poor Household of God (233 Orchard Lane, Glen Ellyn, IL) or to a favorite charity. The family would like to thank all who cared for Betty, especially the wonderful staffs at St. Clare Meadows, St. Clare Hospital and St Mary’s Hospital. The Redlin Funeral Home is assisting the family.