Barbara Jean Tyrer followed the light in the early hours of Friday June 16, 2023. Born in Madison, WI on March 18, 1950 she was raised on Madison’s northside by parents Lee Patterson Tyrer and Maxine Marie (Martin) Tyrer. Barbara attended Central High School where she met James Justiliano. They married and became proud parents to daughter Shelley and son Vito. Her unconditional love provided the backdrop for them to believe in themselves and pursue their dreams.
Barbara was a brave woman who embraced change. She moved to Eugene, Oregon in a somewhat reliable car that bore the handmade sign “Oregon or Bust”. There she delighted in taking Vito and Shelley to the Pacific Ocean to write in the sand and feed the seagulls or camping deep in the forests searching for natural hot springs. As a now single mother she earned a social work degree, eventually working for the Wisconsin Department of Corrections for many years. After retirement she moved to Isla Mujeres, Mexico and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico where she admired the culture with a photographer’s eye. But Wisconsin remained her true home. Its rolling hills always drew her back to her family and her history.
Barbara was committed to the welfare of injured or stray animals. She cared about Veterans and the elderly. She spoke out when witnessing something unjust. Barbara sailed to Cuba before Americans were allowed to travel there. She rode a motorcycle. She designed and built a log cabin. Barbara broke the mold in many aspects of her life and we suspect she rather enjoyed that! A stunningly beautiful woman, Barbara got up early for sunrises, she was an exceptional salsa dancer, she enjoyed doting on her granddaughter Marlo, watching hummingbirds, genealogy, gardening, photography, and relentlessly researching anything that sparked her curiosity. She could make any space feel cozy and inviting. But, above all else, she loved her family, regularly calling to make sure that everyone was doing well and giving generously of her time if someone was not.
In her life she was both a rolling stone and a rock.
She is now reunited with her parents, niece Tanya Tyrer and brother Tom Crabtree. She is survived by her son Vito Justiliano and her beloved granddaughter Marlo Justiliano; her daughter Shelley Justiliano; brothers Greg (Shari) Tyrer, Jim (Judy) Tyrer, and Tom (Kathy) Tyrer; nephews Austin Tyrer and Matthew (Rachel) Dawley; nieces Tammy Tyrer, Terasa Howell, Emily (Travis) Hamann, and Megan (Brandon) Scullion; sister-in-law Karen Crabtree and the Crabtree family; and many great nieces and nephews.
Let Barbara’s life inspire us to be brave, to be generous, to create a life that works for each of us, to help an animal, to take naps when we are tired, to tell people that they are loved, to live simply.
Paths that cross will cross again, Sonrisa. We love you now and forever.
6021 University Ave. Madison