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Obituary of Mary Elizabeth Bailey
Mary Elizabeth “Bette” Bailey (nee Suhr) age 97 years, of Pennsauken, passed away on March 20, 2023.
Beloved wife of the late Edgar Francis "Frank". Devoted mother of Mary Doert (Randy), Patricia Parker (Michael), Dr. John Bailey (Rosemary), Kevin Bailey (Bonnie), Margaret "Meg" Snyder (David), Catherine “Kate” Bailey and the late Eileen Tallman (Dennis). Loving grandmother of 14 (Robert, Bryan, Matthew, Timothy, Tara, Kirsten, Jason, Lauren, Ryan, Jillian, Paul, Lindsay, Joseph and Melissa) and great-grandmother of 20 (Emily, Darren, Jackson, Madison, Allie, Hannah, Martin, Andrew, Ellie, Natalie, Sadie, Amira, Keenan, Mikayla, Juliette, Lorelai, Ava, Grace, Lily and Will. and many nieces and nephews. Dear sister of William Suhr (late Doris) and the late Robert Suhr (late Marilyn). Dear sister-in-law to Joan Bailey (late James) and the late Marie and Roger Dionne.
Bette was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1925. She grew up in Pennsauken, attending Longfellow School, where she said she could ‘walk the quarter mile home for lunch, and then walk back to school every day’. She was a graduate of Merchantville High School where she excelled in the classroom and with the school choir. She loved to play the piano. From there, Bette earned a treasured acceptance to the School of Nursing at The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, from which she graduated and then began her career as a Registered Nurse.
In the meantime, Bette spilled a soda on an innocent, unsuspecting young man named Fran Bailey and they stayed lovingly stuck together for life. She would travel from New Jersey to Texas to marry Fran, who was training for battle in WWII. After Bette finished nursing school, and after the end of WWII, Bette joined Fran to live in “Vetville” on the campus of The University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana while her husband finished his degrees. She also would expand her nursing vocation by working as a nurse in a hospital, and also began the expansion of their family. Her first 2 children were born in South Bend. Years later they would return to Pennsauken to raise seven exceptional children, which, of course, expanded to 14 grandchildren and now includes 20 great grandchildren.
While raising her children, Bette, volunteered as a nurse at St. Peter’s School in Merchantville where she helped start a volunteer nursing program at the school. She organized a children’s health program that included annual examinations by general physicians, dentists and optometrists.
As a loving mother, she stood up for her children when she thought the situation warranted. She also properly disciplined them when needed. A frugal home economist, Bette could work a coupon and find a bargain.
She returned to the hospital nursing workforce in 1970. Recognized as an exceptionally caring, knowledgeable and skilled professional, Bette earned her way to become Head Nurse on a Medical/Surgical Floor at Cooper Hospital in Camden. Eventually, Bette was selected as one of the first Utilization Review Coordinators at Cooper. She retired in 1985. After retirement, she traveled with her husband and also volunteered to assist the nursing department in Pennsauken Public Schools.
In her final weeks of life, Bette was a patient in a rehabilitation facility. She would roll her wheelchair to the bedsides of other patients to comfort them and instill in them a confidence that those patients could and would be able to live with their disabilities and resume their lives with dignity.
Bette was described at her rehabilitation facility as “a gentile and kind person”. She surprised her Physical Therapists with her grit and determination in a frail, pain filled body.
It is difficult to sum up 97+ years. Bette was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, daughter, sister, sister-in-law, aunt, and always a friend.
Bette leaves the world a better place. She will be missed by all those whose lives she touched.
Relatives and friends are invited to the Visitation and Funeral on Friday, March 24, 2023 from 6-8 PM at the Falco/Caruso & Leonard Pennsauken Funeral Home, 6600 N. Browning Road. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Saturday, March 25, 2023 at 10 AM at the Church of St. Peter, 43 W. Maple Ave in Merchantville. Interment will follow at Calvary Cemetery in Cherry Hill. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to NJ Food Bank Southern Branch, 6735 Black Horse Pike, Egg Harbor Twp, NJ 08234 or The Cathedral Kitchen 1514 Federal St, Camden, NJ 08105.
Visitation at Funeral Home
Final Resting Place
6600 N Browning Rd
Pennsauken, New Jersey 08109
3425 River Rd
Camden, New Jersey 08105
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