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Life Story / Obituary
Ona Khot made a significant impact in the lives of everyone she met as a woman of faith who had an insatiable spirit of generosity and a way of making others feel at ease. Ona devoted herself deeply to her family and she treasured her role as a wife and mother. A nature lover with a passion for exploring the world around her, she could find the beauty in even the simplest of things. Life will never be the same without Ona here, and she gifted us a timeless legacy that her loved ones are proud to carry on in her footsteps.
On December 12, 1976 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a time of great joy came about in the lives of Richard and Deborah (Brozek) Wagner as they announced the birth of their precious baby girl, Ona Ruth. She was welcomed by her elder brother Ted, and was later joined by younger siblings Samuel, Joseph, and Esther. Ona loved her family and was particularly close to her father. She was the one to pick out his tie, and each week they went on a daddy-daughter date to the drugstore to get a soda together. Her father made his special chocolate fudge often, and it was one of her favorite treats. Her father worked as an insurance salesman who owned his own business, while her mother was a homemaker. Ona often sat on the front steps of her house with her friends where they just watched the cars go by while enjoying their lollipops.
Ona was raised in a loving Christian home. She and her brother Ted enjoyed making toy carts by cutting the bottoms off of shampoo bottles and adding wheels. Ona loved to make things out of Legos with her brother as well. Ona had an imaginary friend named Charlie and an invisible black cat which she took with her everywhere. Her family had to be careful of her “friends” while getting in the car. She sewed her first skirt when she was just eight years old and continued sewing throughout her life, later sewing all of her daughters’ skirts and quilts. During her childhood she and her family had chickens and she would let them sit on her windowsill. She gave them each special names like Marshmallow and Burnt Hot Dog. She was raised in a Baptist church, and for her entire life, Ona’s faith was a cornerstone. Ona was homeschooled, learned to play the piano, and as an adult she also learned to play the violin. A talented artist, she loved drawing.
There was never anything of greater importance in Ona’s life than her loved ones. She was an amazing mother to Ruth, Rachel, Sarah, Lydia, Natalya, and Julia. Ona met her husband online and was immediately drawn to the rainbow photo in his profile as she cherished rainbows. His name was Manoj, but she called him Matthew. They dated long distance while he was living in India, and they later traveled there together. Ona and Matthew enjoyed an impromptu visit to Sri Lanka. They liked riding a motorcycle together through the streets of Mumbai as well as buying the colorful jewelry from India that she was attracted to. They were married on November 1, 2010.
Ona taught her children so much, being an amazing Mother. Whether it was how to cook, how to sit quietly in church, or eat a healthy diet, she was very intentional in their lives. Baking bread was a necessity, and her children learned to bake bread at a young age. Ona could bake any kind of cake for her children’s birthdays, but angel food cake was her personal favorite, and she enjoyed it on every one of her birthdays.
Throughout her life Ona was one to work hard, and she held a variety of jobs. She first worked as a sandwich artist at Subway. From there she worked as a hotel manager and while there helped greatly increase the hotel’s revenue with her attention to the details and customer friendly attitude. Finally, she found her passion as a truck driver and was so proud of being an over the road trucker.
She loved traveling and exploring with her kids. Finding unique places to stop while driving truck was always something to look forward to. Sometimes they were lucky enough to find a new dress from Love’s Country Stores. On a trip to Georgia she took the kids to swim in the ocean, enjoyed crazy rides on roller coasters at Cedar Point as well as water parks like those at the Wisconsin Dells. Christmas and Thanksgiving were spent at grandma’s house where Ona always won at euchre without even having to pay attention. She taught her kids important lessons like not talking unless they had something nice to say, having good manners, not to interrupt others, and that even if they didn’t agree they were to say, “Yes, Mom.”
Ona was a woman of many interests. She loved nature, trees, and animals. She once caught a seagull, and when she met her son-in-law Todd for the first time, a chipmunk came and sat on her chair and was allowed to stay there as though he was another member of the family. Ona loved gleaning food in the fields, regularly filling baskets to the brim. She enjoyed watching Mission Impossible, Paycheck, Interstellar, Avatar and shows like Dukes of Hazard, Wipeout, and various cooking shows. She also liked classical music and old-fashioned gospel hymns. Ona sang with her father and brothers in church while also accompanying on the piano. She liked taking Matthew to the Mackinac Bridge, a place where she had often picnicked with her family as a child, and she just loved the Fourth of July fireworks there. Ona was involved in Kiwanis and volunteered with her church to make sure homeless shelters had what they needed. She baked for church potlucks and won many awards for her pies, using her mother’s secret recipe. Ona had hopes of buying land and planting a forest one day, but in the meantime, she took great pride in giving each family member a branch from the cottonwood tree her father had planted when she was a young girl. Over the years she planted a branch in each family member’s yard, sprouting their own cottonwoods, and called them “the family tree.”
With unending love for those around her, Ona Khot was truly beautiful on the inside and out. Ona’s love for yellow made her a ray of sunshine and a bright spot in everyone’s life. She used “gleaminyoureye” as her email address, which was fitting, as she was known for exactly that, and her zest for life was contagious to all who were near. Ona told the best stories, and she always had a way of making them funny, she often mentioned that she likes to live in her happy bubble. Her love for her family was easy to see, and she was selfless in her devotion to her husband and children.
Ona joined her Lord and Savior on October 14, 2018 and now awaits her beloved husband Matthew to join her there. Ona’s family includes her mother, Deborah; husband, Manoj; 6 children: Ruth (Mark) McFanin, Rachel (Todd) Palmer, Sarah (Timothy) French, Lydia Kroupa, Natalya Kroupa, Julia Kroupa; 1 grandchild: Ty McFanin; 5 siblings: Ted (Jackie) Wagner, Samuel (Stephanie) Wagner, Joseph (Farzana) Wagner, and Esther Wagner; and many nieces and nephews. Ona was preceded in death by her father, Richard.
Visitation will take place on Sunday from 5-7 p.m. at Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Dr. Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900. Services will be held Monday at 11 a.m. with a 1-hour visitation prior. A reception with food and fellowship will follow the service in the Life Story Center. A burial service will take place Monday afternoon at Hillcrest Cemetery in Pierceton, Indiana. Please visit Ona’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 the Kalamazoo Nature Center.