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Life Story / Obituary
With a life that spanned nearly a century, Mary Couzens lived a life that was full of love, devotion, and selfless sacrifice. Guided by an unwavering faith, Mary treasured her roles as a wife and mother, but she just might have argued that nothing was better than becoming a grandmother and great-grandmother later in life. She was deeply devoted to her community, and through her role as a teacher, she enriched the lives of many others in a special way. Dearly loved, Mary will be forever missed.
In 1919, much of the world was recovering from WWI, and as a result America was recognized as a world leader for the first time. This same year Emory and Minnie (Ockerman) Simpson announced the birth of a baby girl they named Mary on October 16, 1919, in Owosso, Michigan. Raised in Burton Corners, Michigan, she was the youngest of her siblings Bea, Thelma, and Jim. Her next older sister was a full 17 years older than she. Mary’s parents were farmers, and her father was also the township supervisor. Mary helped her parents on the farm while attending local schools. After graduating from Ovid Elsie High School, Mary started college when she was just 17. She lived with her sister, Thelma, while in college at Olivet, for which Mary was forever grateful.
After graduating from college, Mary began her teaching career. She was an elementary school teacher in the West Bloomfield School District. Not only was Mary fully dedicated to her work, but also she deeply loved her students. She later earned her master’s degree and became a reading consultant in the same school district and also tutored kids during the summer.
Not to be forgotten during Mary’s years as a young woman was her introduction to Jack Couzens, and they met at Olivet. Mary thought he was very handsome. After falling in love, Mary and Jack were married in 1940 in Pontiac. Together they were blessed with the births of two children, Jack and Judi. Mary was an amazing mother who loved and cared for her family. She read to her children when they were younger, and continued this tradition with her grandchildren as well. The days her children and grandchildren were born were the proudest days of her life. Mary took great pride in seeing her children graduate from both high school and college, and her grandchildren follow in their footsteps and eventually marry as well. She rarely, if ever, raised her voice, and she was a wonderful listener who was a trusted confidante for many.
There was nothing Mary loved more than spending time with her family. Simple things like popcorn night with the Ed Sullivan Show as well as swimming and trips up north were among her favorite moments. When her grandchildren came for sleepovers Mary made them loose hamburgers with melted cheese and also let them have frosted pop tarts for breakfast, which they never had at home. They loved making forts in her basement and swimming in the lake. For birthdays, Mary made a special chocolate cake, and it was so special to the family that her granddaughter even knew when Mary changed just one ingredient. The family was never without a loving dog at its side including their Boxer, Mitzi, as Judi and Jack were growing up. As their family grew older, they all looked forward to Thanksgiving and other family gatherings at Mary’s home on the lake. There were family trips to the beach on Lake Huron as well as a trip to Italy with Jack, Susan and his daughters. Mary traveled to San Francisco with Shannon before Shannon left for Japan as an exchange student. She, Shannon and Jennifer went to the Golden Lamb in Lebanon, Ohio, which is where the girls' parents had spent their honeymoon. Mary mentioned she didn’t want a surprise party for her 70th birthday, and she was in shock when she was treated to a surprise party later that very night for her 70th birthday! She was so blessed by how many people were there to celebrate her that night.
Someone who kept busy, Mary was a woman of many interests. She was a woman of faith who was very involved in her church, All Saints Episcopal and Crystal River Presbyterian Church in Florida. For years she taught a community Bible study. She read her Bible every day, often more than once a day. The influence of faith that she had on Judi was profound. She never worried, rather, she gave her concerns to God, and it has been said this is much of the reason that Mary lived such a long life. Mary wrote Judi, Shannon and Jennifer letters of encouragement and gave them scriptures to remember. She lived her faith, and it was contagious to all who were near. Also, within her community she volunteered for League of Women Voters. She enjoyed sewing and taught her children to play bridge. As her family can attest, she never went anywhere without her makeup including just to take out the garbage. Ever since she was a young girl she applied a mudpack, and her kids loved trying to make her laugh so that it would crack! After moving into Story Point Assisted Living, Mary often played games or cards with her neighbors, coaching them along the way. She became known as a lovable listener.
All who knew Mary Couzens would agree that she was truly beautiful on the inside and out. She loved to laugh, and everyone just loved her chuckle especially when she laughed at herself. Loving and supportive, Mary was a friend to many, and she was an amazing caregiver who put her faith and trust in God rather than spending any time worrying. A loving mother, she was the best grandmother and great-grandmother, and friend anyone could have. Although she will be deeply missed, Mary’s family finds comfort in knowing that she is enjoying perfect peace in her eternal home.
Mary Couzens died on March 27, 2019 at Rose Arbor Hospice. Mary’s family includes her children: Jack (Susan) Couzens II, Judi (Al) Smith; grandchildren: Shannon (Andy) Frey, Jennifer (Carl) Knutson, Allen (Renea) Smith, Alice (Don) Hurlbert, and Robyn Smith; great-grandchildren: Halle, Maren, Finley, Sam, Amelia, Brendan, Morgan, Dan, Nate, and Alex; and nephews: Rick Simpson and Jack Templeton. Mary was preceded in death by her first husband, Jack Couzens; second husband: Earl Wilson; siblings: Thelma Edwards, Bea Pribble, James Simpson; and her granddaughter: Caryn Cable. A funeral service will be held Saturday (MAY 4) at 11a.m. at Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Dr. Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900 with visitation one hour prior. A luncheon will follow the service in the Life Story Center. Please visit Mary’s personal web page at www.betzlerfuneralhome.com, where you can archive a favorite memory or photo and sign her online guestbook before coming to the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made to Kalamazoo First Assembly of God or Crossroads of Michigan.