Jeanine Birkenmeir Booker

Published 1:51 pm Saturday, October 7, 2023

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Jeanine Birkenmeir Booker, beloved mother, wife, friend, and employer, died peacefully at home on September 30, 2023.

Born in Buffalo, New York, on February 27, 1931, to Richard G. Birkenmeir and Beatrice M. Gay, she lived the first half of her life in Lancaster, New York, where she married her first husband, Hank Barrow, and raised their 4 children. In 1972, the family moved to Bristol, Virginia. One of the first things they did after settling in was open a pizza shop, where she used her experience as a wonderful cook to insist on the best ingredients and recipes for the restaurant, which was named Bella’s Pizza, meaning “beautiful pizza.”

Years later she married William M. Booker and moved to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Together they opened a cat-themed business called Jeanine’s Cat House while she continued to run Bella’s from afar. They were both lovers of travel and art, and through their many travels were able to accumulate many pieces of fine art, and thusly created a showplace in their home.

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Jeanine was a devoted wife and mother. She was also a bridge enthusiast, playing bridge two to three times a week. She loved golf and played at least once a week; the outdoors was her favorite place, and she loved taking her dog walking every day. She was a gifted writer of poetry and journaling, with the dream of writing a book one day.

She spent her last years back in Abingdon to be close to her daughter and son-in-law, Donna and Tom McIntyre, whom she ultimately lived with, and to be near Bella’s, which she continued to run.

She is survived by her daughter, Donna Barrow McIntyre (Thomas); sister Mary Frances Beyer (Jake); stepdaughters Leslie Brooks Booker (Barbara), Lucy Booker Duncan (Gordon), and Susan Booker Woolard (Blake); daughter-in-law Karen Brehm; grandchildren Casey Brehm, Forrest Duncan, Chris Duncan, and Laura Blanton; and several nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by husband William M. Booker, daughter Lynda J. Barrow, sons Robert H. Barrow and James R. Barrow, and grandson Kristen Brehm.

A celebration of life will be held October 11, 2023, 4-7 p.m., at Bella’s, 872 E. Main Street, Abingdon. We invite the community to come and share memories of her.

Funeral services will be held November 11, 2023, 2 p.m., at Kingston Parish Episcopal Church, Mathews, Virginia. All are welcome to attend.