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Betty Jane Neitzel Brake formerly of East Lansing, Michigan and Ithaca, New York; more recently a snowbird living in Edmore, Michigan and Ellenton, Florida passed away peacefully in her Florida home on July 28, 2019 at the age of 86 years.
Betty was born June 16, 1932 on the family farm in Montcalm County, Michigan the daughter of Louis Neitzel and Bessie Crawford Neitzel. She graduated Salutatorian from Stanton High School in 1951 and received a teaching certificate the following year from Central Michigan University. Betty married her high school sweetheart, John Brake, in 1952. She taught school for one year before becoming a mother to four daughters over the next ten years.
When her children were of school age, Betty enrolled at Lansing Community College and received her Registered Nurse degree. She started her career in nursing as a floor nurse then moved into surgery, which became her passion. Only five years into her nursing career she was recognized for her leadership and managerial skills and became Operating Room Supervisor at Lansing General Hospital and later at Cortland Medical Center in upstate New York. Betty was a strong role model for her daughters, who all went on to receive university degrees and become working professionals while raising their own families.
Once Betty retired, she spent time with John visiting children and grandchildren. She was a member of the Lansing (NY) United Methodist Church and helped with their annual fundraising activities. She especially enjoyed attending productions at the Merry-Go-Round Theater in Auburn, NY with her friends from church. Betty also devoted her time to Literacy Volunteers of Tompkins County (NY) and as a Child Advocate for the Court in Manatee County (FL).
Betty was a loving wife to John for 66 years, an amazing mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, friend and caregiver who was a strong, smart, passionate, sweet woman with a sense of humor. She will be terribly missed by those who knew and loved her.
Sadly, John passed away on August 6, 2019 just nine days after Betty. They are survived by their daughters Susan (Ray) Mentzer of Corvallis, Oregon, Catherine (Jeff) Small of Locke, New York, Jan (Tom) Santerre of Batesville, Indiana and Elisa (Mark) Malestein of Kentwood, Michigan. Additionally, nine grandchildren and four great grandchildren. Betty is also survived by her brothers, Lou Neitzel and Jerry (Jo An) Neitzel and was preceded in death by her dear sister and best friend Carolyn Neitzel Raymond.
A Celebration of Life will be held for both Betty and John Brake at the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, Michigan on Sunday September 15, 2019 from 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Our guests may enjoy the gardens and park between the hours of 12:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in tribute to Betty and John Brake at unicefusa.org/tribute. If you would like the Brake family to be notified of your donation, please reference firstname.lastname@example.org
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