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Life Story / Obituary
Edythe Buskirk was an exceptionally loving wife, mother, grandmother, and great grandmother. A faithful woman, she lived her life serving others and was richly blessed with an abundant family. Talented with knitting, she enjoyed many years making special clothing for loved ones and hats for newborns at local hospitals. Known for her fierce love of her family, Edythe hosted countless holiday gatherings over the years. They were everything to her. There is no doubt that Edythe’s loving presence will be deeply missed and lovingly remembered for generations to come.
Between the years of 1918 to 1919, the influenza pandemic, known as the Spanish Flu, infected roughly one-third of the world’s population. At the tail end of the Progressive Era, it was a time of widespread social activism and political reform. During an exciting time in our nation’s history, Clare and Edith (Vandenburg) Crofoot welcomed home their precious baby girl, Edythe Grace on December 12, 1918, in Chicago, Illinois. Sadly, when she was just one week old, her mother’s life was claimed by the influenza pandemic. Edythe was promptly adopted by her Aunt Maud (Vandenberg) and Uncle Robert Gibson who took the very best care of her.
Growing up with a large family of siblings; Robert, Dewitt, Ben, and Leroy, as well as many cousins in her extended family, Edythe learned the importance of family at a young age. There were always plenty of household chores to attend to as well as activities to join as they shared their space with love and laughter. As a result of the effects of the Great Depression, the family relocated to Allegan, Michigan by November 28, 1930. Edythe, who was a few weeks shy of twelve years old, started school at the one-room schoolhouse close to their home. Studious and driven, she graduated with the Class of 1936 from Allegan High School and set off to join the working world. Her first job was at a local dime store and fruit market where she was well-liked by her employers and customers alike. Her polite manners and attention to detail landed her a position with the county probate court working for Judge Irving Tucker in 1938. While working at the front desk one day the Buskirk family came in to register their family car. She commented to Frank and Helen on how cute their son, John was and he quickly piped up to say that she should meet his older brother, Elwin and the rest was history! Elwin was in the United States Coast Guard and typical of the times, Edythe started writing to him. Soon after they became long distance romantic pen pals! Once Elwin returned home from the war, the happy couple were eventually married in the Methodist Church in Allegan, November 4, 1944. Together they raised two wonderful children; Mary and David.
Although their lives were abundant in many ways, she and Elwin endured great sacrifices over the years. By 1945 they made their family home on Lay Blvd. near Washington Elementary School in Kalamazoo. When David was only one year old and Mary was three years old, they both contracted polio. Mary recovered quicker than David and was sent to the farm in isolation. A devoted mother, Edythe worked tirelessly on David’s aching muscles and took excellent care of him during his illness. Her deep passion and perseverance as a young mother contributed to their recovery of such a traumatic illness. When times were tough, Edythe drew on the support of her loving mother in law, Helen, who was in awe of Edythe’s strong will and desire for her young children to heal. Both Edythe and Elwin were wonderful parents that wanted only the best for their family. For many years, their home was a welcoming and happy place for celebrating the holidays and entertaining visiting relatives.
As a family, they enjoyed making wonderful memories. Camping was a favorite pastime as well as taking many excursions around the United States in their station wagons. They remained dedicated to their Christian faith attending Stockbridge Avenue Methodist Church regularly and participating in church events. The years flew by with many activities to keep them busy and before Edythe knew it the children were grown and she returned to work. Edythe enjoyed her years at Bennet, Palmer, Louis, and Laparle Law office of Kalamazoo. She loved people and being active in her community. Elwin continued his steadfast support for the family as a union IBEW electrician for many years until they both were ready for retirement. Retirement afforded them both time for returning to their love of travel. For many years they balanced their time being active in their church community where Edythe sang Soprano in the choir and visiting relatives in New Mexico as well as other areas of interest. Never one to remain idle, Edythe enjoyed many special pastimes.
When her husband, Elwin passed away in 1991, Edythe was heartbroken. Over the years she gained the strength and independence needed to live a long life as a widow. She moved from their home on Lay Blvd. to Lakeway Avenue and began attending Milwood Methodist where she made many lasting friendships. She was also a member of a Canasta club of roughly ten women who were the greatest support to her over the years. They would share so many wonderful memories playing cards and sharing stories as a way of companionship as well as guidance for their ever-changing lives. Her next-door neighbor, Barbara Osmer, remained her very best lifelong friend for many years.
Edythe lived a life rich with wonderful memories and blessings. She never lived a single day with regret and surrounded herself with the people she loved. Her extraordinary compassion for others, her commitment to her faith, and her constant love will be tenderly missed by her many special friends and loved ones. May they enjoy sharing her story and never doubt the immense love she held in her heart for each and every one of them.
Edythe Grace Gibson Buskirk, age 101, of Kalamazoo, Michigan died on Tuesday, December 31, 2019 at Directors Hall in Kalamazoo. Members of her family include her two children; Mary Buskirk (Joseph Charles) Parisi and David Roy (Toni Lynn Garbacik) Buskirk, grandchildren; Karie Buskirk (Jason) Peterson Jennifer Buskirk (Tyrone) Jessup, great-grandchildren; Travor Peterson, Savanna Jessup, Aaron Jessup, Charlotte Jessup, nephews; James Crofoot and Reed Crofoot, and niece, Roberta Lee Gibson. She was preceded in death by her husband, Elwin Francis Buskirk. A private burial has taken place and a memorial service will take place May 2nd, 2020, 1PM with a luncheon to follow at Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Dr. Kalamazoo, MI.