LIFE STORY GATHERING
Friday, December 18, 2020
12:00 PM to 2:00 PM EST
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Private burial will follow at Mount Ever Rest Memorial Park.
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
With an indomitable spirit, unwavering faith, and joyful heart, Beverly Caldwell lived a life rich in family and friends. Beverly embraced every moment as a gift and every person as a friend. She met life’s challenges with grit and determination, finding joy in even the darkest of moments. Beverly embodied the principles of her faith, practicing an uncommon gratitude that powerfully inspired her daughters and grandchildren to navigate life with confidence and care. Cherished by many, Beverly will be forever missed by all who were blessed to share her life journey.
The beginning of 1929 continued to ride the decade’s roaring wave of peace, prosperity, and hope. The nation celebrated the recent inventions of Penicillin, the iron lung, bubble gum, and the Yo-Yo, as well as Charles Lindbergh’s Medal of Honor and Amelia Earhart becoming the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. As the wave of sweeping social and economic growth rapidly increased nowhere was their more hope for the future than in Kalamazoo, Michigan, as Adolph and Ethel (Leland) Bryer welcomed their daughter Beverly into their hearts and home on April 8, just a few months before the stock market crash that caused the Great Depression.
The fifth of the six Bryer children, Beverly grew up in a busy and loving family. Along with her siblings, Lorin, Norm, Carl, Neal, and Pauline, Beverly’s early years centered on family values, resourcefulness, and hard work. While Beverly’s father affectionately joked that her birth was what caused the crash, the family pulled together in the face of the Depression’s challenges. Beverly’s father worked at Sutherland and had his own CO2 business, and the family moved all over Kalamazoo before settling in at her grandpa’s home on Hotop Ave.
Beverly completed 8th grade but left school in the 9th grade. Having been born with cataracts, it was hard for her to see and complete her studies. In spite of the challenges of the times and having cataracts, Beverly started working at a very young age and developed a strong work ethic. This work ethic, coupled with her deep faith, became the firm foundation upon which she built the rest of her life.
In time, a mutual friend introduced Beverly to Raymond Caldwell, the man she would one day marry. Beverly was instantly attracted to Raymond’s quick wit. Though his sassy and often snarky spirit could test her patience, she couldn’t deny the attractiveness of being able to spitfire with him. After dating for a while, it became clear that the couple was destined to share their lives, and they embarked upon having a house built. When it was completed, they celebrated by marrying on September 17, 1950, in the house on Hotop Ave.
After taking a honeymoon trip to Missouri to visit Raymond’s family, the newlyweds returned to their home in Kalamazoo, where they were blessed to welcome their daughters. Sharon and Fran quickly became the centers of Beverly’s world, and she relished staying home to raise them. With signature precision and discipline, she ran a tight ship that included a firm schedule. Monday was laundry day. Tuesday, she ironed. Wednesday was double green stamp day at the grocery store, and Friday was leftovers for dinner. With a penchant for cleanliness, Beverly meticulously tended the home, rearranging the furniture every week. When it was discovered that her daughter Fran had the same genetic cataract ailment, Beverly rooted herself in advocacy for Fran’s good care and education. She knew Fran would face tough challenges living in a world where everyone else could see, and she lovingly guided her to adapt and successfully navigate those challenges.
Though regimented, Beverly also knew the importance of leisure and play. She poured her love into her cooking, and her home was known as the Kool-Aid house by the neighborhood kids who could always count on her snacking them with Kool-Aid and crackers when they came to play. The family enjoyed vacationing at Raymond’s family’s cabin at Higgins Lake or visiting his family in Missouri. They also made a memorable trip to Mackinac Island.
In the late ’60s, Beverly began working as a housekeeper at Nazareth College. She had a great boss, Laura Harris, and quickly made many friends. She enjoyed sewing and also made latch-hook rugs and knitted stocking hats. Beverly cherished her friendships. Once a person was welcomed in her heart, regardless of time or space, they remained there for the rest of her life.
As her children grew older and had families of their own, Beverly’s joy also grew. She welcomed her role as grandmother with signature delight and devotion. She cherished any moment shared with her children and grandchildren and collected as many family memories in photos as she could. Beverly continued to lead her family by example, sharing her strong faith with her voice and in her written daily devotions. She read her bible daily and enjoyed listening to Gospel music. While she showered her grandkids with her delicious fruit salad, fudge, and candy bars, she also shared her love of reading with them. Each night the grandkids perused her library, picking out a favorite book for Grandma to read with them.
After Raymond died in 1981, Beverly, who was blessed with continued good health, had the opportunity to travel with some friends in their camper. Their travels to the east and west coasts ignited a fascination for lighthouses. Her favorite places included Window Rock in Arizona and the lighthouses in Maine. At the age of 85, Beverly fell and broke her hip. After a series of more falls, Fran and her husband moved in with Beverly to provide her with the care she would need to continue to stay in her home.
Like the lighthouses she was so fascinated by, Beverly was a bright beacon during life’s storms. Her heart and home were always open, providing safe harbor, compassion, and support for all. Whether advocating for Fran, supporting Sharon as she widowed at a young age, cheering on her grandchildren, sharing her favorite bible verse, or saving a treasured greeting card, Beverly showed us all how to live a wholehearted life. As we begin to face life in her absence, may we find comfort in the privilege of carrying her beautiful legacy forward. Each moment we choose to live our faith, count our blessings, welcome a stranger as a friend, confidently meet a challenge, enjoy listening to Randy Travis, work a puzzle, or send a note to a loved one, we celebrate the many ways Beverly gifted our lives. In this celebration, we stoke the light of her steadfast spirit and ensure that she continues to inspire others as she so inspired us.
Beverly Caldwell, age 91, died peacefully on December 14, 2020. Beverly was preceded in death by her husband, Raymond; and siblings: Lorin (Mary) Bryer, Carl (Gert) Bryer, Neal (Betty) Bryer, and Velma Pauline (Ted) Osborne. Surviving are her children: Sharon Osterman and Frances (Ronald) Slaughter; grandchildren: Amanda (Kevin) England, Marie (David) Parker, Brandi (Ronald) Fahling, and Missti Slaughter; great-grandchildren: Alexis, Mikayla, Saphira, Hunter, Grace, Imajin, Ronald “Trace”; her brother: Norman Bryer; and many nieces and nephews. Special thanks to Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan, especially Darcy, for her exceptional care.
A Life Story gathering for family and friends will be held from 12-2PM Friday (DEC 18) at Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo 269-375-2900. Private burial at Mt. Ever Rest Memorial Park South. Visit Beverly’s personal webpage at www.BetzlerLifeStory.com, where you may read her Life Story, archive a favorite memory or photo, and sign her online guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan.