Mass of Christian Burial
Friday, April 22, 2022
11:00 AM EDT
St. Catherine of Siena Parish
1150 W. Centre Ave.
Portgage, MI 49024
An Ice-Cream Social will follow.
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.
St. Vincent DePaul - St. Catherine of Siena Parish
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
With a sparkle in her eyes and a welcoming smile, Catherine Taylor lived a wholehearted life, rich in family and friends. A true lady, Catherine always looked like a million bucks, especially when donning her favorite color, blue. She lived a faith-centered life, fully embodying the principles of her faith. Catherine loved fully, listened with all of her heart, and never hesitated to give of herself in service of others. A powerful example for all who were blessed to know her, Catherine lived life to the fullest, embracing every moment as a gift and every person as a friend. A devoted mother, grandmother, and friend, Catherine will long be remembered and ever so missed.
With the rearming of US forces, the strains of the Great Depression began to ease in 1940. Americans' incomes grew, and their increased spending further fueled the economy. In the US, the optimism of leaving the depression behind inspired the making of several classic movies, including "Gone With the Wind" and the "Great Dictator," while the invigorating sounds of Benny Goodman and Count Basie's Jazz filled our homes with hope. Newly invented Nylon stockings were all the rage with women, and FDR was elected for an unprecedented third term. Despite the ominous winds of change blowing in from Europe, the foundation of hope and generosity our nation had firmly rooted itself in as a result of the preceding decade's hardships could not be shaken. It was within this overwhelming feeling of fortitude, generosity, and hope that Catherine entered the world on April 12.
The youngest of ten, Catherine grew up in South Bend, Indiana. While her father worked as an engineer for Studebaker in South Bend, her mother stayed home to care for the children and manage the home. The foundation of her faith was firmly established during her early years. She walked to school and began her education at local Catholic schools. Very outgoing, Catherine graduated from Riley High School in 1958.
After high school, Catherine worked as a switchboard operator for a trucking company. While picking up a prescription at the local pharmacy, she had the good fortune of catching the eye of Jerry Taylor, who was working there while working on his degree in pharmacy. Catherine and Jerry's families knew of one another, and she was quickly taken in by his quick wit, which often took the form of sarcasm. Two weeks after they met, Jerry was off to serve in the Navy.
The happy couple married on December 29, 1962, at St. Matthew Cathedral, in South Bend, Indiana. After honeymooning at Niagara Falls, the newlyweds moved to Long Island, New York, where Jerry was stationed with the Navy. In 1963, they welcomed their first child, Peg. They later welcomed Julie, Tori, Kristen, and Anthony.
After Jerry completed his service in the Navy, the family settled in Portage, Michigan, in 1972. Catherine stayed home and dedicated herself to raising the kids and caring for the home. Ahead of her time, Catherine ensured her children were well-rounded, educated, and knew how to throw a football with a perfect spiral. She was incredibly resourceful and an accomplished seamstress. She made all of Jerry's suits and many of the kids' clothing. It was common for the family to be well coordinated in matching attire. She and Jerry took the kids on many camping trips all over the country and often focused their adventures on history.
Once Anthony was in school, she began working outside the home. For a time, she worked at McDonald's as a party hostess. She dressed as Hamburglar and loved making sure all the kids had a wonderful time. Always eager to be of service, Catherine was quick to give of her time and talents. She and Jerry clowned around together, dressing up in their clown costumes and teaching hug therapy as "Rainbow" and "Mr. Jeeves." For nearly twenty years, Catherine volunteered with hospice, offering safe harbor for many local families. She was also very involved with her church community, St. Catherine of Siena.
Catherine possessed a natural curiosity and always welcomed an opportunity to learn, grow, and pass along her wisdom. Jerry taught her all about gardening, and she took it to the next level. She enjoyed bird watching, sunsets, and sharing time with others. As a result of Jerry's skillful investing, they were able to generously share their blessings with others. Catherine listened carefully and found unique ways to give to others. Quiet and humble in her gift-giving, she kept careful notes in a book she instructed her daughter to publish one day after she died in hopes of inspiring others to give of their abundance too. Catherine actively studied the Bible, started a book club with her neighbors and provided a lending library box for her neighborhood.
After Jerry retired, the couple traveled extensively as a couple and sometimes with church groups. Some of their trips included exploring Italy, Australia, Germany, France, and England. Catherine found joy in many things. Whether attending concerts or plays, game and movie nights with her girlfriends, indulging in a sweet treat—especially ice cream, keeping pretzels on hand, or going out to breakfast after attending daily mass, Catherine relished in the gift of each moment. She loved cars. She knew all about them and had a strong preference for those that came in shades of blue. She also loved collecting pretty "little things," like spoons, figurines, pins and art.
Fondly known as "Catherine the Great," nothing pleased her more than spending time with loved ones, especially her grandkids. Always careful to dress her best, she also enjoyed a good-looking man; she often made sure they knew they were attractive. Catherine loved music, dancing the polka with her husband, and spoiling her grandchildren in every possible way. She was well-known for her intentionality in caring for others. She loved words and acknowledging people with carefully written messages of love and support on many, many birthday, anniversary, Christmas, and sympathy cards. Though fascinated by technology, Catherine was never a fan of Facebook; she much preferred being with people face-to-face.
One of the many gifts Catherine gifted her friends and family was her indomitable spirit. Even in the face of profound loss, she remained steadfast in her faith and love. This was best witnessed when her son died on October 5, 2010, and her husband died exactly one year later on October 5, 2011. A date-person, the power of this shared anniversary was never lost on her. Even as she faced persistent trouble with her lungs, Catherine met each day with grace and gratitude.
Clearly, the world feels significantly duller in the absence of Catherine's bright and beautiful presence. May we find comfort in knowing she is breathing with ease, has been reunited with her loved ones, and is dancing a heavenly polka with her beloved. May we also find comfort in the honor of carrying her legacy of unwavering faith and unhesitating generosity forward. In this way, Catherine's spirit will continue to shine and inspire others as she so inspired us. "Period, Paragraph." ~CTG
Catherine Taylor, age 81, died peacefully on Sunday, December 19, 2021 in Kalamazoo. She was preceded in death by her husband, Jerry; son, Anthony, and all 9 of her siblings, Catherine's legacy is proudly carried forward by her deeply cherished family, including her kids: Peg (Terry) Leslie and son, Alex Frye; Julie (Todd) Mobley and children, Christian and Nicholas; Tori (Barry) Root and children, Kalee (John) Hirsch and Morgan Paul; Kristen (Paul) Zyskowski and children, Jackson Zyskowski; and Alexis Taylor (Anthony's daughter).
Cremation has taken place. Mass of Christian Burial held next spring at St. Catherine of Siena Parish, followed by an ice-cream social. Burial will take place at Ft. Custer National Cemetery. Please visit Catherine’s personal webpage at www.betzlerlifestory.com, where you can archive a favorite story or photo, and sign her guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to Kairos Dwelling or St. Vincent de Paul at St. Catherine of Siena Parish.