Cover photo for Gertrude "Trudy" Barbee Early's Obituary
Gertrude "Trudy" Barbee Early Profile Photo
1919 Gertrude "Trudy" Barbee Early 2024

Gertrude "Trudy" Barbee Early

December 13, 1919 — January 11, 2024


 Gertrude “Trudy” Barbee Early, 104 of Kalamazoo, passed away peacefully at Heritage Community on January 11, 2024. She was born on December 13, 1919, in Battle Creek, Michigan to Harold and Elnora Wilcox. She graduated from Western Michigan Teachers’ College with an elementary education certificate. On October 11, 1941, she married Robert “Bob” Andrew Early of Kalamazoo. They had a daughter, Carole Dianne.

Trudy taught first grade at Oakwood Elementary School for three years before becoming a full-time homemaker. She was an avid reader, a member of the Garden Club of Kalamazoo, The Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra League, and the Kalamazoo Art League. She was also a member of the Borgess Service League and was often the opening tap dance act for the Club’s Follies. Besides loving to dance at every opportunity, she was a talented painter of still life and enjoyed many years of traveling the world. She was an active member of the First Presbyterian Church of Kalamazoo.

Trudy is survived by her daughter, Carole Dianne Cupps (Samuel), her two beloved grandchildren, Andrew (Dani) Cupps and Dianne (Kevin) Shaffer, her five great-grandchildren: Samantha and Cameron Shaffer; Robert “Bobby”, Catherine, and Christopher Cupps, and several nieces and nephews.

In keeping with Trudy’s wishes, cremation will take place and the family will hold a private service at church at a later date. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in honor of Trudy may be directed to the Worship and Music Committee at Kalamazoo First Presbyterian Church 321 W. South St. Kalamazoo, MI 49007. Please visit Trudy’s personalized webpage to share memories and condolences with her family at

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