Mother, Grandmother, Great Grandmother, Sister, Aunt, Cousin & friend, Mary Francis (Barr) Babel passed away peacefully Thursday night, May 27, 2021. She spent her last days surrounded by family and friends, enjoying stories and sharing her love until the end. Mary was ready to transition into the next life and communicated such to her family, making it easier to let her go.
Born October 7, 1926 to Dwight Sr. and Ella Mae Francis (Bush) Barr and raised outside of Chicago in the Christian Science faith, the Daughter of a high school teacher, she was the only girl in a house with three brothers where education for all was valued. Mary graduated from high school and attended Northwestern University where she was involved in College Theater.
She met the love of her life, Charlie Babel, while babysitting for his sister when he was on leave from the US Coast Guard during WWII. They married in June 29th, 1946 and in 1948 moved to Wood River, Nebraska where they owned and operated Babel Agency; selling insurance, real estate and doing tax work for many in the area.
The community of Wood River became her home and Mary was proud of her involvement in many activities over the years. When her children were young she arranged for the school gym to be used as a skating rink; she participated in the town skits at the Wood River fair; and volunteered to sit for the dunk tank. Mary always supported her children and the Wood River Eagles during sporting events. If the team bus went...so did Mary - with whom ever could fit in the car.
Mary valued hard work throughout her life, spending nights and weekends at the “office” especially during tax season. She was named the 1st woman Nebraska Insurance Agent of the year in the 70’s. Later she spent many years working at Babel’s Barn, running events and making sure everything ran smoothly and everything was stored ‘right’. Both Charlie and Mary enjoyed many years at Babel’s Island, spending quiet time on the Platte River or hosting family events. Always ready for an adventure, “Grandma Mary” once broke her collar bone falling out of a tree while attempting to zip line into the river and she celebrated her 90th birthday by sky diving from a plane at 10,000 feet. Mary loved her family, her community, chocolate covered raisins (CCR’s) and the Nebraska Cornhuskers (both Volleyball and Football were closely followed).
After Charlie’s death in 1992, Mary remained a constant in Wood River. In 2012 when she needed more assistance she moved to Grand Island, living with her oldest daughter. In 2017 she moved into the Riverside Retirement Community where she made many friends and enjoyed remaining active. She appreciated reconnecting with old friends and making new ones while making Riverside her home. Mary was a member of the Trinity United Methodist Church in Grand Island and accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior.
She is survived by her children: Catherine (Dan) Denman of Grand Island; Patricia (Tom) Wilkinson of Broken Arrow, Ok.; Valerie (Michael) Fait of Grantsville, Ut.; and Thomas (Koanne) Babel of Wood River. Survivors also include her Sister-in-law Mary J. Barr of Georgia, Brother-in-law Calvin (Colette) Delano of Israel and special cousin Bill (Edna Mae) Devore of Illinois. Also left to cherish her memory are Grandchildren Paige (Veronica) Denman; Jenny (Scot) Abels; David (Beth) Denman; Connie (John) Pavey; Scott (Carrie) Wilkinson; Cody (Maile) Cowley; Jenelle (Brandon) Geipel; Amy Bate; Scott (Gina) Fait; Danny (Allison) Fait; Mandie (Adam) Roy; Ashley (Jeremy) Gewecke and Krystal (Matt) Sibley along with many Great-Grandchildren.
She was proceeded in death by her husband, Charles Ronald Babel; brothers and sisters in law Dwight Jr. and Rosemary Barr; James and Janet Barr; and David Barr; an infant ‘Baby Denman’ Grandson; Granddaughter Rachel Fait and by Great-Grandson, Jacob Abels.
The Celebration of Life will include a visitation on Sunday, June 6th from 4-6 at Apfel Funeral Home in Grand Island, NE. The funeral services will be Monday, June 7th at 11:00 am at Babel’s Barn in Wood River, NE. Memorials may be made to the family to designate at a later date.
Grand Island Cemetery