Barbara Novak (née Pedtke)

January 1930
February 2024


Barbara Pedtke was born in Chicago during the Great Depression. She loved classical music and especially opera. She was born into a musical family of singers, piano and organ musicians, and a piano tuner and builder. She grew up hearing music everywhere. Barbara married Frank Novak in 1951, days after turning 21, and promptly churned out six children in about a decade! She never cooked much, but had a green thumb for plants, including gardening. She was a canning queen, too, and was sought out during strawberry season! for her jams. She and Frank moved the family all over the country, exposing their children to different environments and lifestyles. They made sure the family enjoyed exotic vacations all over the States, Canada, Mexico, and Europe. Barbara worked as a legal secretary (at one time for the Attorney General of Virginia, and also for a bigwig at General Dynamics in Texas). She never could sit still for long, so she trained to be a nurse after all of her kids grew up and moved out. Barbara marched for women’s rights in the ERA in Illinois, wrote many letters to government officials voicing displeasure when they weren’t enlightened enough for her, and was an active member of Mensa, where she felt at home with her high IQ peers. She was a diehard liberal and usually voted Democrat. She managed to make a sarcastic remark that you know was her humor slicing through the terrible grip of Alzheimer’s, once it grabbed hold of her and wouldn’t let go. She carried herself through the condition with integrity and loads of humor. Barbara always said she would live to be 94 years old. She passed away six weeks after her 94th birthday. Resting in power, as always.

Friends & Family

Babette Novak - husband Dirk Matthews, Celeste Novak - husband Mike Mason, Spacialle Novak - daughter of Babette, Preceded in death by her daughters Ramona and Gretchen. RIP.

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