LIFE STORY VISITATION
Life Story Celebration
Monday, December 18, 2023
12:00 PM to 2:00 PM EST
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Food, Drinks and Stories will be shared
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.
555 West Crosstown Parkway
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Loving, gracious, and kind, Mary Lee Jones lived a life rich in faith, family, and friends. Mary Lee led with her heart in all things and never hesitated to share her compassion or forgiveness while caring for her family, friends, or patients. Mary Lee saw the goodness in others and gave all she could to ensure their good care and comfort. An inspiration to all who were blessed to know her, Mary Lee will long be remembered and so very missed.
1945 was a year marked by much celebration and hope. With the victorious end of World War II, families tuned into the celebratory tunes of Bing Crosby, Perry Como, and the Andrews Sisters. At the same time, children delighted in the debut of the slinky. Nowhere was there greater promise for the future than in the hearts of Ray and Bernice (Brackenbury) Merrill as they welcomed their daughter Mary Lee to their family on November 27 at their home in Croswell, Michigan.
The third of the four Merrill kids, Mary Lee, grew up in the good company of her sisters, Linda and Gail, and brother Gary. Their father was a welder, and their mother was a homemaker. Starting at a young age Mary Lee was fashion-conscious. As a teen, she and a friend dyed their hair and then tried to dry it in the oven. Her mom did not like the color and made her wash it out. Whenever she went out, she made sure she looked her best.
A natural caregiver, Mary Lee was a terrific mother. Even when life proved challenging, she proved loving and dependable. She was always a hard worker--working a full-time job and sacrificing much to give her three sons a good upbringing. Her focus was always her boys, her family—not career or personal aspirations. Though money at times was scarce she ran a tight ship at home, her boys were always clear about how deeply they were loved and the family never went without. As a mother, Mary Lee was always a source of comfort, consolation, encouragement and hope for her sons. A steadfast presence, she was always there when they needed her most. Faith was the cornerstone of her life, and she encouraged the boys to follow God. By her own example and taking them to church, she provided them with a firm foundation of faith upon which to build the rest of their lives.
After working as a Certified Nursing Assistant at Bronson for more than 15 years, Mary Lee returned to home health care. She showed her kindness to all people and met them where they were on life's journey. Mary Lee dedicated herself to her patients' care and ensured they had everything they needed. She had a knack for making people feel comfortable and accepted and liked to make others laugh, even if it meant making herself the butt of the joke. Her ready kindness, hard work, and compassionate care made a big difference in many, many lives.
While working at Bronson, one of Mary Lee's coworkers introduced her to Dan Jones. Their first meeting was at Milhalm Park, where they just talked and got to know one another. After dating for about two years, they married on September 17, 2001.
Though they'd planned to marry a few days earlier, with the events of the time, their celebration was a little delayed. But as Dan was a romantic who never hesitated to share his affections and would gift Mary Lee roses on every anniversary.
Without a doubt, Mary Lee's greatest joy was her family. As her sons grew into adulthood and had families of their own, she was delighted to welcome her new role as grandmother. She always worried about her boys and their families, and was always there to support them. She always enjoyed going to family events and being a part of her grandchildren's and great-grandchildren's lives. A powerful role model for her loved ones, Mary Lee embodied the principles of her faith. Despite circumstances that could have left her mad or bitter, she chose to do the right thing and shower people with love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness.
Mary Lee was a good cook and considered her cooking an extension of her caring. Her homemade chili, beef stroganoff, sour cream coffee cake, and decorated birthday cakes were unrivaled. Mary Lee also loved to garden. Every spring she enjoyed planting flowers in her garden and caring for them throughout the summer. Mary Lee also had an affinity for home decorating and loved collecting baskets. Mary Lee was also a pet lover. Throughout her life she enjoyed both dogs and cats as pets (Ginger, Poncho, Bo, and Snickers to name a few), and also liked to spoil the pets of her family (especially sneaking food under the table). However, she was not a big fan of horses, due to one comical and hair-raising ride from her childhood. In the evenings, after the work day was done, Mary Lee often enjoyed watching television shows with family, such as The Lone Ranger (early on), Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, Matlock, Magnum P.I., Murder She Wrote, and just about anything on HGTV.
Sadly, for the past four years, Mary Lee struggled with memory issues. For many of those years, Dan lovingly cared for her in the comforts of her home. However, as her needs grew to require more specialized care, she was lovingly placed at Crystal Woods in Kalamazoo, where she became a favorite among other residents, staff and her Hospice support.
Though the world feels significantly duller and empty in the absence of Mary Lee's beauty and kindness, may we find much comfort in our many treasured memories and knowing she is basking in the face of her Savior, Jesus Christ. Through the power of Christ, Mary Lee has prevailed and persevered over the trials and toil of this life and now enjoys true peace and a rest that passes all understanding, the blessed hope.
May we also find comfort in the honor of carrying Mary Lee's legacy of generous, loving care for others forward. In each moment let us choose faith over fear, forgiveness over bitterness, gather for a homecooked meal, cheer on our loved ones' endeavors, and wholeheartedly live each moment to the fullest, we keep Mary Lee's spirit alive and inspiring others as she so inspired each of us.
Mary Lee Jones died peacefully on Monday, December 4, 2023. Members of her family include her husband, Dan; 3 children: Tim, Jeff, and Matt; 3 siblings: Linda Ferrier, Gail Krejci, Gary Brackenbury; 8 grandchildren: Jared, Andrew, Allison, Hannah, Ryan, Dakota, Andrew, and Serena; 6 great-grandchildren: Brynn, William, Asa, Isaiah, Henry, and Lily; and other nieces, nephews, and friends. Please join us at a Life Story Visitation on Sunday, December 17, 2023, from 3-5 pm at Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900. Services will be held on Monday, December 18 at 11 am, at the same location. A reception where food, drinks, and stories will be shared will take place immediately following the service in the Life Story Center. Visit Mary Lee's webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories, photos, and sign her guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to Transitions Care.