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Life Story / Obituary
Fiercely independent and strong-willed, Beatrice Ellis was a remarkable person to know and love. The bold red headed woman that she was, she freely spoke her mind and valued her faith and traditions. A loving wife, mother, and grandmother, she was a true supporter and protector of each and every one of them. Known for her exceptional way with both people and plants, Beatrice adorned her home with fresh cut flowers as well as grew produce and raised cows and chickens to source her family with nothing but the best quality food. Her steadfast commitment to the family she loved will be her greatest legacy.
Born on August 8, 1925, in Kalamazoo, Michigan to loving parents, Carl and Claire (Milliman) Burns, her birth brought great joy to the family home. The Roaring Twenties were a time in history that was filled with feelings of freedom and independence, yet much of her childhood was overshadowed by the effects of the Great Depression. Beatrice learned the value of a hard day’s work from her parents. Her father worked at the Kalamazoo Paper Mill and her mother was a homemaker.
Growing up in Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties, she lived a typical childhood of the times. After graduating from Paw Paw High School, she went to work as a telephone switchboard operator in Kalamazoo. She enjoyed playing softball for a local intramural team and traveling to Florida with her aunt. With her mind set on becoming a nurse, she was accepted into nursing school and later joined the Army Nursing Corps near the end of WWII.
Her life would change forever one evening at the local dance hall known as the Odd Fellow Hall. Thomas Ellis spotted her from across the dance floor and the rest was history! Luckily, as the saying goes, opposites attract because they were smitten for one another right from the start. He was the quiet one and Beatrice was the outgoing one in their relationship. Yet, on the dance floor, as in their life, they were the perfect partners. The happy couple joined in marriage on June 18, 1950. Together they raised six wonderful children.
As a mother, she instilled in her children the value of a strong work ethic. She taught them that everything in life was available to them yet it wouldn’t be handed to them on a platter. Faith was important to both she and Tom and they raised them with a strong foundation. Each Sunday after church they shared a special family dinner together. These times became special traditions that made lasting memories on their children. As parents, they remained very active in their children’s lives supporting them in their 4H programs which meant sharing nearly every weekend throughout the summer at the fairgrounds. On many hot summer days as well as just about any season, popcorn and Vernors were staples at the end of the day.
Beatrice remained involved in every facet of parenting, but also worked outside the home as a clerk for Vandermeulen Trucking in Oshtemo for many years. She also reported the Almena news for the Courier Leader. Beatrice was very proud of the Almena community and enjoyed keeping her family and friends informed of all the happenings in the area right up until the very end of her life. During their years of parenting and providing, she and Tom continued their passion for dancing. They enjoyed square dancing together at local halls and were part of a special group that danced around the community. They also loved to travel to Canada to visit with special friends and relatives.
After Tom retired, their love of traveling continued. They were able to take a trip of a lifetime to England. Beatrice was able to reconnect with her English pen pal from her young adolescence. Remarkably, they remained in touch for over fifty years! Much planning and preparation went into this trip including Beatrice researching much of her family’s genealogy to ensure she would be able to follow the paths they walked and see the places they lived during their lifetime. Of all the trips they had traveled with one another this was by far the most memorable for the two of them! It meant so much to see her long-time pen pal and relish in the days of her ancestors.
As much as she cherished her years as a mother, nothing quite prepared her heart for being a grandmother. Beatrice loved to share her many special interests with her grandchildren. Surely a routine visit included selecting something from her famous collection of freebies from area stores as well as baking homemade biscuits. She would roll out the dough and allow them to make whatever they wanted out of it. Known for her delicious homemade bread, her kids would often stop by every week for a fresh loaf! There was always enough gum to go around as well as gummy bears! She wanted nothing more than for each of them to feel special. Over the years, they were often given something unique that she had knit or crocheted for them. Her special presence, as well as her loving ways, will be fondly remembered. Beatrice leaves behind a wonderful example of living life to the fullest and will surely be missed by her many special loved ones.
Beatrice Ellis, age 94, died peacefully on November 27, 2019. Beatrice was preceded in death by her husband, Thomas; and her brother and sister-in-law: Lewis and Jean Burns. Surviving are her children: Kathleen (Paul) Ellis-Aivars, Patricia (Julien) Howe, Christine Robbins, Bruce (Nina Consolatti) Ellis, Timothy (Gretchen) Ellis, and Michael (Lori) Ellis; 10 grandchildren; 9 great-grandchildren with one on the way; and several nieces and nephews. Visit with family and friends from 5-7 PM on Monday, December 2, 2019, at Betzler & Thompson Life Story Funeral Home, 60900 M-40 Paw Paw (269) 657-3870. A service will be held at 11 AM on Tuesday, December 3, 2019, at Almena United Methodist Church with burial at Almena Cemetery. A luncheon will follow in the church hall. Visit Beatrice’s personal webpage at www.BetzlerLifeStory.com where you may archive a favorite memory or photo and sign her online guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to Almena United Methodist Church or Rose Arbor Hospice.