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Life Story / Obituary
Devoted to the family she loved, Mary Asma lived her life to the fullest. Nothing brought her more joy than to know that her children were blessed with many successes. She wanted nothing more than the very best for each and every one of them. Mary modeled a generous loving spirit and leaves behind a wonderful collection of memories for her family to cherish forever.
1942 was a period of time marked by WWII; where families in the United States were experiencing a gas rationing of only three gallons a week and a new breed of movies with war themes were hatching. During the years of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Gerritt and Esther Waterlander were pleased to announce the birth of their baby girl, Mary, at their home on a very cold winter’s night on January 5th, in Decatur, Michigan. Born the second of four children, her birth brought much joy and promise in an era of great change.
Growing up on a farm, Mary pitched in to help out at a young age. Her father was a farmer, as well as a machinist at Eaton Corporation and her mother was an Italian homemaker instilling in her the value of a hard day’s work. Mary grew accustomed to driving the tractor and picking pickles as well as learning her way around the kitchen. The family always had family pets including both dogs and cats. Her father always put out a beautiful display of lights at Christmastime which led to many special traditions in Mary’s life. During her high school years in Decatur, she enjoyed band, playing the clarinet and was a “Letter Girl”, carrying the letter “A” spelling DECATUR. After graduation, Mary went to work for the Decatur Republican newspaper. She enjoyed working there and maintained her life-long subscription so that she could keep up on the news of her hometown she loved dearly.
Not to be forgotten was the momentous night she met Albert Asma, who would become the love of her life! He was going on a date with a group of friends but his date couldn’t make it. And as fate would have it, Mary just happened to come by at just the right moment! The two of them hit it off from the start! Soon after their chance meeting, he enlisted with the United States Airforce. During his three years of service, the happy couple wrote to each other every day. He kept her high school picture near his bunk while he was stationed in England. With a strong desire to reunite with Mary, he bought her an engagement ring and took leave in order to propose. She said, “yes!”, and they began to make plans for their October 21, 1961 wedding ceremony in Decatur. Soon after their marriage, Albert accepted a job offer at United Parcel Service in St. Joseph Michigan. It was here they welcomed their first son, Jeff before later completing the rest of their family once they relocated to Kalamazoo.
There was never a dull moment with Mary around! She was always on the go and packed every ounce of energy into making the most of her day! As a mother, she cherished joining her children on rollercoaster rides during their annual trips to Cedar Point. Her favorite rides were the Raptor, Blue Streak and Iron Dragon. As a family, they enjoyed many years of camping. They started out in a tent and worked their way up to an A-liner camper. Some of her favorite camping destinations were in Maine, Tennessee, South Dakota, Niagara Falls, Branson Missouri, and Mackinac Island. Canoeing, bike riding, and tubing was always part of the fun! Every summer, they planned a family trip to see a Detroit Tigers ballgame. Win or lose, it was always a good time! A phenomenal cook, she loved to serve up special meals after church on Sundays, and a warm breakfast EVERY morning and a warm supper EVERY night. She enjoyed visiting the popular Essen Haus every year to celebrate their anniversary dinner and always treated the entire family. When it came to family get-togethers, the family always requested her homemade potato salad, macaroni salad, jello salad and the famous meatballs! A faithful woman, Mary never skipped her daily devotions and when dad worked late, she read the Bible at evening meals with the kids. Her personal time in prayer was so important to her. Strong in her commitment to the Lord, she and Albert also prayed together every evening. She also listened to Haven Ministries on the radio daily and was a loyal supporter of this ministry for over 50 years.
Although Mary loved to decorate for each and every holiday over the years, Christmas was her favorite time of year. She always allowed the kids to pick out what they wanted from the Sears catalog. Mary would spend months decorating her home, planning the menu, polishing the silver, as well as wrapping each and every present perfectly. Sometimes she would use funny names from whom the present was from like getting a gift from Robert Redford himself! Just as when she was younger, she loved to sing Silent Night before opening gifts on Christmas Eve. Each year she paid special attention to serve her traditional dishes on fine China as well as decorating the kids’ table just as fancy! In addition to her flair for entertaining, she enjoyed shopping for the latest trends and always enjoyed looking her Sunday best everyday! Mary loved concerts and live performances. A FEW of her favorites included Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Elvis, Huey Lewis. Dancing with the Stars Live, synchronized ice skating, bluegrass festivals, and symphony concerts in the park. It was a real treat to see Barry Manilow with Rhonda and Julie.
As much as she savored her years as a mother, Mary was blessed beyond measure when her grandchildren arrived! She enjoyed attending many of their special events over the years as well as taking them to the orchards to pick every seasonal fruit. Mary always enjoyed learning new things and credits her grandchildren with teaching her how to swim. In the little time she would take to finally relax, she enjoyed sudoku, reading, and watching westerns and Little House on the Prairie. A memorable time indeed was celebrating her and Albert’s 50th wedding anniversary by treating their kids and grandkids on a Carnival cruise to the western Caribbean! It was a treasured memory for the entire family. It is certain that her warm and loving affection will be dearly missed by her special family and friends. Her loved ones will never doubt the immense love she had for each and every one of them and her countless memories will be eternal. As family photographer, Mary took her camera everywhere and wanted to capture the beautiful life moments that were so special and dear to her. She has countless photo albums that reflect these memories for her family now and always.
Our beloved Mary Asma, went to be with her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Sunday, May 24, 2020, at home surrounded by her husband and children. She enjoyed flower gardening and collecting porcelain birds, bells, depression glass and delft blue. She was a wonderful cook and kept her house immaculate; always a hostess when anyone would visit. Mary is preceded in death by her brother, Jacob Waterlander and her sister, Veronica Thompson. She is survived by her husband of fifty-eight years Albert, her children: Jeff (Marisol) Asma, Rhonda (Rick) Rakowski, Julie (Scott) Quibell and Ron (Patty) Asma; grandchildren: Joseph, Rachel (Matthew), Ryan (Emma), Zachary, Cameron, Evan, Erika, Ethan, Zachary and Xavier; and her sister, Margie Johnson. Mary was full of love and loved by her family and everyone that met her. She will be forever missed. Private services will take place. The family will have a service and luncheon when Covid restrictions are eased. Please visit Mary’s personal web page at www.BetzlerLifeStory.com, where you can archive a favorite memory or photo and sign her online guestbook. Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900. Memorial contributions may be made to First Baptist Church of Paw Paw and Haven Ministries.