Elizabeth “Betsy” Pahlke, 72, passed away peacefully at home on January 11, 2022. She was born on August 29, 1949, to John and Bernice (Jenkins) Jopek in Chicago, Illinois. She was the eldest daughter, always responsible for her little sisters, Maggie and Mare. Betsy cherished time with family and especially enjoyed going on deliveries with her dad, who was a milkman.
She married the love of her life, Ken, on October 19, 1968, in St. Mary’s Catholic Church, McHenry. They had four children: Michelle, Michael, Matthew, and Melissa. Her family was her greatest achievement. Betsy was a patient and understanding mom. She was fiercely loyal, blunt when necessary, and occasionally a little sassy. Her empathy and compassion were boundless.
Beyond her own children, Betsy was a mom to many. She opened her home to her children’s numerous friends who had challenging circumstances. She welcomed them to stay as long as they needed, often several years. Betsy donated to a dozen organizations that provided care and support to those in need. She did so quietly and secretly because it was none of your business. She was great at keeping secrets and doing things on the sly. If you tried to give Betsy money she would immediately and covertly return it to you by hiding it in your coat or purse. If you insisted that she take it, she would politely remind you that you are, in fact, not the boss of her.
Betsy was a dedicated employee at Pioneer Center for Human Services for 28 years. She cared deeply for the work Pioneer did for their clients and she was very proud to contribute to their mission. Betsy was incredibly smart and never stopped learning. She was a mentor and trusted confidant to her coworkers and friends.
Betsy is survived by her husband of 53 years, Kent, children; Michelle (Dan) Robaczewski, Michael Pahlke, Matthew (Kristy) Pahlke, Melissa Pahlke (Steve Whittenhall), grandchildren; Taylor, Hannah, Liam Pahlke, her siblings; Marianne (Jay) Scanlan, Margaret McClellan, and Don Belonga, many nieces and nephews, and great nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her parents, John and Bernice (Jenkins) Jopek and half-brother Richard Belonga.
A Celebration of Life will be held privately. Arrangements have been entrusted to the Justen Funeral Home and Crematory, 3700 W. Charles J. Miller Road, McHenry, Illinois. For information, please call the funeral home at 815-385-2400, or visit www.justenfh.com, where friends and loved ones may share memories of Elizabeth on her tribute wall.