Barbara Ruth Crumm-matriarch of an extended family spread across Michigan and other parts of the U.S.-died at age 95 on December 1 after a long struggle with several illnesses. Barbara received such good care that she avoided the trauma of COVID and passed away peacefully in her bed that morning. Burial is private for the immediate family in the Goodrich cemetery. An online memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Eastern Time on Saturday December 12. Before that service time, a link to the service will be posted on the front page of https://www.goodrichumc.org/
Barbara’s razor-sharp memory and lively spirit inspired her to keep sharing favorite family memories until her final days. She loved to share stories about family and long-time friends, some of whom she had known since World War II, when she lived in Texas and worked on the staff of Travis Park Methodist Church in San Antonio. One of the last letters she dictated, shortly before her death, was to a classmate in the 1930s at Lima High School in Howe, Indiana. They had remained part of a circle of loyal pen pals all their lives.
Barbara’s legacy includes this lesson that we all should tend lovingly to the friends God sends our way. Even after she could not physically travel to see friends, she visited with them at length by phone and via letters written in the precise Palmer Method cursive she learned as a little girl. In her final weeks, when she could not hold her pen, she dictated notes, as she was able, to be mailed on her behalf. She never stopped her caring contacts with friends and family far and wide.
Barbara was born February 12, 1925, the youngest among six children of John and Mabel Yunker in Howe, Indiana. She was born at home on their farm. Barbara was proud of the fact that her father arrived on American shores as the child of a poor immigrant family from Switzerland and her mother came from one of the Midwest’s oldest Methodist families. One of her ancestors on her mother’s side was the first female Methodist missionary to India. The church was such an essential part of her life that she met her future husband, Donald Crumm, at a gathering for young adults at Adrian College, a school with Methodist roots. Barbara was the college’s top student two years running and graduated summa cum laude; Donald also was a brilliant student and a World War II Navy veteran.
Together, they accepted a calling to ministry as a family. While Donald went to seminary and became the ordained United Methodist pastor, Barbara was an active partner in ministry with him and always welcomed active roles in the church. They served congregations in New Jersey, while Donald was in seminary, and then in Michigan: Allen Park, Detroit, Bay City, Southfield, Waterford, Goodrich, Sebewaing, Hope and Edenville. In retirement, they moved back to Goodrich, which they had always regarded as home since two of their adult children were married in Goodrich. In retirement, they served Brent Creek and Northwest Venice.
During World War II, before marriage, Barbara helped to run a business with her sister Helen in San Antonio: Brackenridge Stables, which was a popular destination for the thousands of men and women in service passing through the city. Before children, Barbara also worked as an administrative assistant in a number of college, seminary and church-related offices. In later years, she worked at Sears as well as a market and Porter’s Orchard, both in Goodrich. Additionally, she worked as an Election Official for many years.
She also volunteered in a host of church-related projects, including mission trips within the U.S. to help congregations and community nonprofits from the Upper Peninsula to Arizona. She began that work in the 1940s in Texas as one of the coordinators of a mission group called the Caravaners that crisscrossed the state presenting programs for young adults. She continued volunteering on such projects all her life. Because of family ties to Kentucky, she became involved in supporting Red Bird Mission, which was appropriate because the cardinal was her personal avatar. She collected dozens of artful renditions of cardinals through the years and decorated her homes with them.
Barbara also loved music. Trained in cello in high school, a cello was always present somewhere in her home as was a piano. She grew up in the era of Big Bands and always had an affection for them, but she also enjoyed many other genres including hymns, pop and classical music. Despite living on the limited budget of a pastor’s family her entire life, she made sure that all four of her children took piano lessons-and three of them went on to surpass her own skills as musicians. Their accomplishments were a great source of pride and listening pleasure for her.
Among her favorite authors were Bruce Catton, Frederick Buechner, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Robert Frost and biographies of presidents and their families. She read nearly every book written about Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.
Barbara was preceded in death by her husband Donald Crumm and her son Stephen as well as her brothers and sisters: Gwendolyn Emmert, Marjorie Bricker, Helen Gillis, Robert Yunker and J.H. Yunker. She is survived by her sister in law Sharon Balk, sister in law Sarah Jane Pierce and brother in law Daniel Crumm and his wife Jill; children David and Amy Crumm, Joann Crumm, Shauna and Daniel Weil and John Crumm; grandchildren Megan and Joel Walther, Benjamin Crumm and Kathryn Campbell, Ian Crumm, Nicholas and Michele Weil, Drew Weil, Stephanie Weil, Amber Crumm and J.T. Crumm; and great granddaughter Maxine Walther.
Memorial gifts in her name should be written payable to Goodrich United Methodist Church and sent to 8071 South State Road, Goodrich, MI 48438. In the memo line of the check, specify which program you wish to support: Heifer International, or the Goodrich UMC music program, or the Goodrich UMC Care Fund, which is used help people in the community facing emergencies. If you prefer to make an online contribution, go to the church website cited and click on Give Now on the home page. For inquiries, call the church at (810) 636-2444. The Goodrich church staff will handle distribution of the memorial gifts. Tributes may be shared at www.sharpfuneralhomes.com
To send flowers to Barbara's family, please visit our floral store.