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Barbara (McBride) Pitts

August 29, 1931 - January 15, 2014

Barbara McBride Pitts went to be with the Lord January 14, 2014, who has graciously relieved her of the excruciating pain and suffering she endured as a result of crippling arthritis and post-polio problems. She is now resting peacefully with him. She was a blessing to all who knew her and was an example of patience, perseverance, and positive attitude.

Funeral Services will be held at the Mt. Pleasant First United Methodist Church on Saturday, Jan. 18, at 11 a.m. Rev. Diane Gordon and Rev. Connie Bongard officiating. The family will receive friends and relatives at Clark Family Funeral Chapel on Friday, Jan. 17 from 4 to 6 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. There will also be viewing at the church one hour prior to the service Saturday. Interment will be at the Rockford (MI) Cemetery.

Barbara was born to Stanley and Letha (Doty) McBride in Ann Arbor, MI. Her family soon moved to Grand Rapids and lived there until 1941, when they relocated to Rockford, MI. Barbara attended Rockford Public Schools and graduated with the RHS class of 1949. At the age of 13 she contracted polio, which put her in the hospital and recuperation for a year. This should have put her a year behind her classmates, but she was determined not to be separated from her friends so she received permission to take the 8th and 9th grades concurrently. While in high school Barbara lettered in girls' basketball and also played tennis. She took vocal lessons and had a beautiful, clear soprano voice. School choir was a joy to her. She enjoyed swimming and directed a Campfire Girls camp at age 18. At that time it appeared that the polio would have no long-term effect on her system; that would prove wrong later in her life. As a result of her experience in the hospital she decided to become a nurse.

In 1952, Barbara married Army Lieutenant Ralph J. Pitts at Ft. Meyer, Virginia. For the next sixteen years, while Ralph was completing his Army career, they traveled together to various duty assignments. One of the most memorable was a three-year assignment in Heilbronn, Germany. The family enjoyed visiting many of the sites of Europe. While in the service Barbara and Ralph had three children-"Army brats" as they are affectionately called. Upon retirement from the Army in January of 1967 they moved to Mt. Pleasant so Ralph could complete his college education. The enjoyed Mt. Pleasant and were pleased when Ralph was hired into the Mt. Pleasant Public School System. At this time their fourth child was born, their only 'civilian' baby. Barbara resumed her nursing career, working at Central Michigan Community Hospital several years before moving to Central Michigan University Health Service. After 14 years she was forced to retired due to returning complications from her childhood polio.
During these years Barbara was one of a small team that founded Central Michigan Hospice and served as a caseworker and held a post on their board for several years. She served as a member of the Family Selection Committee of Habitat for Humanity of Isabella County and was a Cub Scout Den Leader. She enjoyed years of vacationing and travel with her family. She watched her children grow and attended their soccer and baseball games, as well as their theatrical productions. She was an avid member of the Heart of Michigan Sweet Adelines Chorus. She was a life long member of the United Methodist Church, being active in church choirs and as a soloist. She was a Stephen Minister in the First United Methodist Church, and an active member of the United Methodist Women.

It was during this period that she, sadly, saw the return of her polio problems, or post-polio syndrome, as it was soon named. This increasingly affected her mobility and her signing voice. Barbara would struggle with related issues the rest of her life. She became involved in the Mid-Michigan Post-Polio Group and participated in several studies examining this phenomenon. She and Ralph were members of the Mt. Pleasant Arbor of Gleaner Life Insurance Fraternity and in 1995 Barbara was selected to be the Gleaner National Fraternalist of the Year in recognition of her long years of service to others. Barbara was a member of the Mayflower Descendants descending from Edward Doty through her mother, Letha Doty McBride.

After Ralph retired from teaching in 1990 they continued their passion for travel, ultimately traversing most of the contiguous 48 states before their 30 years of RVing were concluded. They joined RVICS (Roving Volunteers in Christ's Service) where they spent winter months in the South working on church properties wherever needed. They also had worked with Nomads, a similar volunteer ministry of the United Methodist Church.

Her parents, her only brother, Bob, and two grandchildren predeceased Barbara.

Barbara is survived by her husband, Ralph, her four children, Ron, Cindy, Bob, and Jamey, 13 grandchildren, 7 great-grandchildren, and a great great grandchild.

Anyone considering memorial donations please send them to the Mt. Pleasant First United Methodist Church in Barbara's name, or to Woodland Hospice of Isabella County.

You may view Barbara's obituary online and send a condolence to the family, light a memorial candle, or place a memorial donation at www.clarkfuneralchapel.com.
Published in The Morning Sun on Jan. 21, 2014
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