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.
SPCA of Southwest Michigan
6955 West KL Avenue
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Vibrant and vivacious, Carol Beecher lived a life rich in family and friends. A woman who embraced each moment fully, Carol inspired others to do so as well. Gregarious, generous, and fun, Carol possessed a deep love for others and was often a safe place for others to simply be. Whether family, friend, coworker, or patient, all were welcome in Carol’s big heart and her home. A gift to all, Carol’s bright spirit will long warm the lives of those who were blessed to spend time with her.
1948 proved a year of continued celebration of the nation’s recent momentous victory in World War II. America's heroes eagerly returned home to a country filled with renewed spirit and hope ready to claim their share of the American Dream, which they fought so proudly for overseas. As American prosperity grew like no time in our history hope sprang eternally, and the Greatest Generation soon proliferated, creating the age of the Baby Boomers. In Pittsburg, Pennsylvania the cause for celebration grew even greater as Ernest and Rosemary (Tennison) Heinlein welcomed their daughter Carol into their hearts and home on February 18.
Both of Carol’s parents were in the Army at the time of her birth. While her father worked as a coal miner and later as a carpenter, her mother’s Army career was marked by her work on the Manhattan Project. An interesting fact-Carol was almost born in Vienna, Austria! Though Carol’s earliest days were spent in Pittsburgh, her family moved to Fox Lake, IL while she was quite young. Growing up in the Fox Lake area north of Chicago, Carol enjoyed a childhood centered in time outdoors. The Chain O’Lakes area afforded a lot of time at the beach exploring the waters and bathing in the sun long before the days of sunscreen mania.
The oldest of the Heinlein’s three children, Carol always loved the sun and enjoyed the good company of her siblings, Joe and Nancy. Carol was a strong student with an interest in athletics. She played flute in the marching band, sang in the acapella choir, and was an officer in the Girls Athletic Association. During her senior year in high school, Carol married Tom Gardner. Carol then graduated with the Grant High School class of 1966. Carol and Tom were soon blessed with two children, Tammy and David. Carol later met George Beecher; the two fell in love and married. With marriage, Carol gained George’s daughter, Tracey, as her own. The couple moved their family to the Kalamazoo area and in time, Carol and George were blessed to welcome another child into their family, Rosemary. For the better part of their 17-year marriage, Carol was a full-time stay at home mother. Though she loved her children and felt privileged to be home with them, as they grew older, she felt called to do more. So, in the early to mid-80s she enrolled in classes at KVCC and became a Licensed Practical Nurse.
Upon completing her schooling, she began working at the Battle Creek VA Hospital. Carol enjoyed her work tremendously and quickly returned to school to further her education ultimately becoming a Registered Nurse. As an RN, Carol started working at the State Hospital, which is now known as the Kalamazoo Regional Psychiatric Hospital. Carol enjoyed her work as a psychiatric nurse and particularly liked the interesting people and their stories. Her work was rarely boring, and she always had an interesting story or two to tell. She continued to work at the hospital until her retirement.
While Carol enjoyed her kids when they were young, she really loved being a mother to them as adults. As each of the kids moved out and began their own great lives, Carol loved witnessing their growth and sharing in their journeys toward capturing their own dreams. When they blessed her with grandchildren, her heart grew beyond measure. She loved nothing more than spending time with her grandkids. She relished celebrating their births and caring for them when they were little. As they grew older, she loved taking them out to eat, attending their band performances and activities, simply hanging out, playing computer games, and connecting with them via Facebook. She was always up for Zoo Tycoon and earning Webkinz money for her grandchildren.
Carol was a woman of many interests. She enjoyed reading cat mysteries and history books - especially those about WWII and royal families. She would plan annual trips to Greenfield Village to try to pass on her love for history to her children and grandchildren. She liked being outdoors either sunbathing or tending to her garden. Her garden was always a source of creativity and inspired many shopping adventures and catalog orders. Classical music and Steely Dan often played on the turntable and her television was always tuned to a crime show. Car rides were never dull with the grandkids, as Carol jammed out to Opera hour on NPR and Mozart’s most famous marches. There was always a cat (or two, or three) in Carol’s life and her love of cats was evident in her crazy cat lady stories and cat-themed trinkets she acquired and displayed with her spoon and thimble collections. Her home was her sanctuary, and Carol could easily putter around for hours tending to it with loving care.
Naturally social, Carol loved people. Her group of longtime close friends was truly a family of choice. She and her friends could often be found eating out at their favorite local restaurant where she could talk and talk and talk. When she made friends, they were friends for life and she had many friends she had known for decades. She would regularly attend her high school reunions to keep connected with those she shared so many early memories with. Most recently, she attended her 50th class reunion! She also traveled to new countries with her friends. Germany, Austria, and Italy were just a few of the favorite places Carol and her friends explored. Ask anyone who knew her and they will quickly tell you that there was never a quiet or dull moment when Carol was around. With a gift for gab and a knack for expression, even going out to eat at McDonald’s was an event to remember.
Carol’s family had a long history of bad hearts which unfortunately Carol didn’t escape. Eventually, she needed a pacemaker which proved helpful. Despite her health challenges, Carol centered herself in living a wholehearted life. She was generous beyond measure and never hesitated to give of her time, talents, and resources to lighten another’s load. Whether filling the house with her kids and grandkids’ favorite foods, sending each of the grandkids a holiday (no matter how trivial the holiday!) card with a five dollar bill, or sharing a real story from her life to inspire laughter for a person who needed a bit of levity, Carol made a positive difference in the lives of those she loved.
Though life has certainly grown much quieter in Carol’s absence, the memories of her infectious personality, love of people, and passion for life will long be held as a precious treasure for all who knew her. Whether retelling her famous Mike the Monkey Attack Story, how her sister Nan danced in the movie aisles at Cinderella, how her beloved friend Carol Keyes wiped the sweat off her neck during class, enjoying an iced tea, giving of our time to someone in need, or greeting a stranger as a friend, we will continue to share her legacy of love in each of our lives. And, in this way, Carol will continue to inspire others as she so inspired us.
Carol L. Beecher, of Kalamazoo, of Kalamazoo, Age 70, died December 22, 2018, at Pipp Hospital in Plainwell. She was preceded in death by her parents and by a brother, Joe Heinlein. Surviving are 4 children: Tracey (Steven) Mead, Tammy (Farnood) Farmand, David (Carolyn) Beecher and Rosemary Beecher; 7 grandchildren: Sylvia, Cozette, Alexys, Sarah, Michael, Dyllan and Jacob; and by a sister,Nancy Rainey. Please visit Carol’s personal web page at www.betzlerfuneralhome.com, where you can read her story, archive a favorite memory or photo and sign her online guestbook. Cremation will take place, and in lieu of services, memorial contributions may be made SPCA of SW MI, Loaves and Fishes or PBS. Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Dr. Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900.