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Helen Barbara Wells Gertin of Independence, Virginia passed away unexpectedly in her home the morning of November 11th on her 85th birthday. She was born on November 11th, 1938 in Medford, New Jersey to the late Helen Rose Sabo and Ellsworth Wells. She was also preceded in death by her husband Richard Joseph Gertin, a daughter Debra Ann Gertin Swicegood, a great-grandson Preston Carter Gertin Webber and a special aunt Irene Sabo Cosaboom. She is survived by five children and one son-in-law: Kathy Annette Gertin Murphy/husband Chris, Sparta, North Carolina; Michael Richard Gertin/wife Grace Largin, Independence Virginia; Lynne Michelle Gertin Cornett/husband David, Independence, Virginia; Roy David Gertin, Sumter, South Carolina, Christopher Mark Gertin/wife Leslie Stark, Borden, Indiana, and son-in-law David Carson Swicegood, Galax, Virginia. In addition to her children Barbara is also survived by thirteen grandchildren: William Michael Wade, II/wife Luz Adriana Garcia Valderrama, Port Saint Lucie, Florida; Kristina Dawn Wade Snyder, Galax Virginia, Timothy James Hicks, Independence, Virginia, Christopher Coalbey Murphy/Katrina Hoffman, Ennice, North Carolina; Jason Michael Gertin /wife Lindsey Ayers, Galax, Virginia; Jill Marie Gertin Rivera, Fredericksburg, Virginia; Matthew Gertin/wife Holly Elmore, Spotsylvania, Virginia; Janice Lynne Cornett Sutfin/husband Joseph, Independence, Virginia; Jennifer Lee Cornett, Mount Airy, North Carolina; Davis Scott Gertin/wife Wanda, Shreveport, Louisiana; Tabitha Gertin and Joshua Gertin, Sumter, South Carolina; Kathryn (Kate) Rene Gertin, Borden, Indiana; Sixteen great-grandchildren: Jayden Elizabeth Wade-Kennedy, Skylah Danielle Wade-Taylor, Peyton Jules Camesi, Gavin Aubrey Snyder, Galax, Virginia; Daquan Nathanial Sutfin/wife Zion, Galax, Virginia; Sierra Lynne Camarena/husband Rocket, Temecula, California; Kadden Malik Sutfin/Savannah Starr, Bend, Oregon; Jason Caleb Gertin and Madison Alyce Gertin, Galax, Virginia; Brian Christopher Gertin, Shelby, North Carolina; Christina Marie Gertin, Missouri; Addison Virginia Cornett and Austin David Cornett, Mount Airy, North Carolina; Holly Skye Gertin and Iris Elise Gertin, Spotsylvania, Virginia; Luz Elaine Wade, Port Saint Lucie, Florida and four great-great-grandchildren: Misael Grimm Anthony Camarena and Pandora Lilith Rose Camarena, Temecula, California; Grayson Andrew Gertin Independence, Virginia; Malaki Joseph Sutfin, Bend, Oregon. Barbara is also survived by two sisters Virginia “Ginny” Wells Roesch of Browns Mills, New Jersey and Nancy Wells Bakely of Manahawkin, New Jersey. Many other cousins, nieces and nephews also survive.
Barbara “Bobbi” was a 1956 graduate of Rancocas Valley Regional High School, Mount Holly, New Jersey where she was on the Student Council, participated in the Art Club, Mixed Chorus, Girl’s Basket Club, G.A.A., HOLLY SPIRIT, World affairs Club, French Club, Girls Basketball, captain of the women’s field hockey team and art editor of the Red Oak yearbook. Her Senior Yearbook noted “Seems to be the serious type… artistically inclined… one of Holly’s all-around athletes… dependable”. After high school she took a summer civil service job at Fort Dix, New Jersey where she met her husband Richard “Dick” Gertin. They were married March 2nd 1957 at chapel 2, Fort Dix, New Jersey. As an Army wife for 22 years she raised six children at various assignments up and down the east coast from upstate New York to Florida. She was very involved in Girl Scouting serving as a Cadet Leader and later in various volunteer positions with the Ocean County Council in New Jersey. After being a stay at home mom for many years she went back to work at Cumberland Farms convenient stores and then Builders Emporium in Toms River, New Jersey.
In 1975 the family moved to Baywood, Virginia as Richard took a position as the Army Recruiter in Galax, Virginia. Barbara took a job at the newly built Ray’s Kingburger in Galax, Virginia and moved up through the ranks to manager of the Ray’s in Hillsville, Virginia where she worked until the business burnt down in 1985 and was never reopened. After that she worked sewing in various textile factories in Galax, Virginia and Sparta, North Carolina. After retirement she continued to work part-time at Virginia ABC in Galax and Hillsville, Virginia and later as a hostess and cashier at Country Side Restaurant in Hillsville, Virginia until it closed. After that she began helping her daughter at Kathy’s Kreations Bakery, Ice Cream Parlor and Gift Shoppe in Sparta, North Carolina until 2020.
She loved to meet and talk to new people and was unforgettable to anyone she met. She enjoyed traveling especially to lighthouses, historic sites and state and national parks. She loved the ocean and really enjoyed spending time with her family vacationing on the Jersey shore, Emerald Isle and the Outer Banks of North Carolina. She was an avid reader, gardener and antiquer. You could always find her visiting one of the local libraries, reading a good book, newspaper or magazine; working in her own or someone else’s flower or vegetable garden, taking care of her hundreds of houseplants (which she could tell you the name of every one), out antiquing or on her computer searching for depression glass or a reamer on EBay. She still enjoyed helping her son-in-law David with his booth at the annual Gun Show in Hillsville each year. She liked to sew, knit, crochet and cross-stitch. When her girls were young she would make matching outfits for her, the girls, and sometimes even their dolls. She was also a very good artist which many people did not know. She liked to paint ceramics and in later years gourds and help her son Chris with craft fair items. She loved watching and feeding the birds, taking the bird feeders down each night so the bears wouldn’t tear them up and insisted that someone else do it when she was out of town. She was a dog lover and eventually became a cat lover which was particularly funny because she said she would never have a cat. She was given a stray and after that she wouldn’t live without one having adopted several over the years from local shelters, her excuse for not having a dog and only a cat after that was she said they were easier to have someone take care of when she was away traveling. She had just recently lost her companion Baily who was by her side (in her lap) for many years. In later years she became a big fan of women’s college basketball and liked to go to watch the Louisville team when she went to Indiana for a visit with her son, Chris, wife Leslie and granddaughter Kate. She enjoyed spending time with family, especially the annual Christmas day get together at her house where the whole family gathered. It was mass ciaos with everyone talking at the same time (20 to 30 people). You haven’t lived until you’ve spent a Christmas at “Grandma’s”! She prepared Christmas supper and gifts were always opened one at a time in age order youngest to oldest, which became an all-day affair as the family continued to grow. She kept saying she wasn’t going to do it anymore but we all knew better (little did we know what she had said would be true this year). Rest in peace Mom, you deserve it; we love you and are going to miss you more than words can say! You were the best Mom ever!
Funeral Services to honor the life of Bobbi will be held at 1:00 pm Tuesday, November 21st, 2023 in the chapel of Thomas Family Funeral Service with Reverend James Cowley and Pastor Dale Baugus officiating. A private family graveside will be held at Felts Memorial Cemetery in Galax, Virginia following the service. The family will receive friends one hour prior to the service at the funeral home.
In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to the Grayson County Public Library 147 S. Main Street, Independence, VA 24348 or the Borden Branch – Charlestown Clark County Library 117 West Main Street, Borden IN 47106.
Thomas Family Funeral Service is honored to be serving the Gertin Family. If you wish, online tributes may be extended to the family at www.thomasfamilyfs.com.