Emilie M. Barnett (nee Matyas), born in Cleveland on March 20, 1934, to parents Malvin and Rose Matyas, passed away peacefully in Cleburne, Texas, on July 26, 2020.
Predeceased by her husband, Irwin Barnett, and sister, Annette Mathias, Emilie is survived by her children, Daniel Barnett of Alaska, William Barnett (Nancy Barnett) and Laura Webb (Jim Bob Webb) of Texas and Barbra Barnett (Morgan Hankin) of Louisiana; her grandchildren, Robert Barnett, Joshua Barnett and Sara Mihalek (Peter Mihalek); her great-grandchildren, Henry Mihalek and Hayes Mihalek; and brother, Marty Matyas (Sherrie Matyas).
Emilie was raised in Cleveland Heights and lived most of her life in Shaker Heights and Cleveland. She was a person who did not know the meaning of the word “impossible.”
Emilie will be remembered as a fierce advocate for racial integration and fair housing. She was a founder of the Ludlow Community Association and served as executive director of Cleveland Interfaith Housing and Interfaith Community Housing of Delaware. Emilie also served as director of community relations with the Jewish Federation of Cleveland.
A lifelong learner, Emilie earned her B.A., M.S.M. and J.D. degrees from Case Western Reserve University. Emilie was also a fearless adventurer and joined the Peace Corps at age 66. When she returned to the United States after her service in Jeddah, Jordan, Emilie was determined to fight anti-Muslim sentiment. She then earned a master’s degree in religious studies at U.C. Santa Barbara and studied Islamic civilizations at The Aga Khan University (London) in order to develop Communities in Conversation (bringing Muslim, Christian and Jewish neighbors together in a forum to cultivate peace and understanding). Emilie volunteered for the American Jewish World Service in Harare, Zimbabwe, and in her free time researched the life of her favorite historical figure, Beatriz Nasi Mendes.
Emilie most loved being surrounded by family. She will be missed by the many people who knew and loved her.
Donations in memory of the life of Emilie Barnett can be made online to: The Shaker Schools Foundation (shakerschoolsfoundation.org) or Community Healthcare of Texas (communityhealthcareoftexas.org).