Life Story Visitation
Monday, January 22, 2024
5:00 PM to 7:00 PM EST
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Food, Drinks and Stories will be shared.
Life Story Service
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.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Caring, compassionate, and kind, Shirley Cronk lived a life rich in faith, family, and friends. A woman who embodied the principles of her faith, Shirley was a living example of enduring love and hope. She had a strong drive, determination, and genuine love for people. Shirley led with her heart in all things, welcoming each day with gratitude and rooting herself in honesty and integrity. She loved her Lord and her family, and even in the most challenging times, she never waivered in her devotion to both. A cherished wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, and friend, Shirley will long be remembered and so very missed.
1944 marked a time when all American lives were directly impacted by the war effort in Europe. While countless young people actively served in the trenches of WWII, those who remained stateside poured their energies into supporting the war effort in any way they could. As Americans welcomed the end of meat rationing and began planting Victory Gardens, Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the G.I. Bill and soon became the only U.S. president to be elected to a fourth term. As the nation looked toward peace, Barney and Beverly (Livengood) Mintle celebrated their own hopes for the future as they welcomed their daughter Shirley into their hearts and home on July 31 in San Francisco, California.
Having started kindergarten at the age of four in California, Shirley had to repeat kindergarten in Michigan, a story she enjoyed telling over her lifetime.
During her eighth grade year, Shirley first met Howard Cronk in typing class, where Shirley put a typewriter cover over Howard's head to get his attention. They began dating the following year and remained soul mates for the rest of their lives. They were married on April 10, 1961, in Battle Creek.
In time, Shirley and Howard were blessed to welcome their own children into their family. The children were the center of Shirley's world, and she delighted in creating a loving and supportive home for them. An encouraging and uplifting mom, she would do anything for her kids. However, when they would get out of line, she would tell them, "There is trouble in River City!" Always willing to use her talents in service of others, Shirley enjoyed making doll clothes and then would give them away to those in need.
Faith was the firm foundation of family life for the Cronk's, and the church was a central part of daily life. They participated in weekly church activities and church camps for the family in the summer. Shirley loved to read her Bible, study scripture, and use her gifts to support others' faith walks. Shirley graduated from Rhema Correspondence Bible School in 1995 and studied for one year at SMTI. A living example of how to live a faith-centered life, Shirley's beliefs were evident in her actions. Over the years, she taught Sunday School, and the book of Revelation, teaching kids from kindergarten to college age. She also worked at the church as a wedding coordinator, greeter, served Holy Communion, and participated on the pre-service prayer team.
Heart-centered, hopeful, and persevering, Shirley enjoyed many things. For many years, she worked as an executive secretary in the research department at Post Cereal. Shirley earned an Associate Degree in Applied Science while working full time. Hardworking and pleasant, Shirley was well-liked by her co-workers. At home, she loved to tend her 7 flower gardens, creating a beautiful oasis filled with her favorite flowers, including day lilies, irises, and some rare flowers. She especially enjoyed watching the hummingbirds who frequented her yard. A true animal lover, Shirley enjoyed the good company of several pets. In addition to her parrots, Cassie and Cody, she especially enjoyed her dogs. Her current dog, Lydia Grace, a Bolognese, was a beloved friend and companion. Shirley and Howard loved traveling in their fifth-wheel trailer, her favorite place to camp was at Aune-Osborn in Sault Ste. Marie where she loved to watch the Great Lakes freighters pass the campground. She also camped seasonally at Tri-Lakes Campground in Marshall. She enjoyed traveling through the campgrounds in their golf cart and getting to know the other campers.
Without a doubt, Shirley's greatest joy was her family. She relished sharing her children's lives and the special gifts of being a mother, grandmother, and great grandmother. Her grandchildren were her heart's delight; she cherished having another generation to dote on. Helping raise Jaymie and Erin for seven years was especially wonderful.
Sadly, Shirley was diagnosed with breast cancer nine years ago. Though the treatment at the time proved successful, the disease reoccurred two years ago. As her care required more support, Shirley spent her final days at Rose Arbor Hospice.
As we gather to celebrate Shirley's beautiful life, may we find much comfort in our many treasured memories. May we also find comfort in the honor of carrying her wonderful legacy forward. Whenever we choose faith over fear, confidently face life's challenges, serve others, gather around the campfire, travel with our beloved, or curl up with our favorite canine companion, we keep Shirley's indomitable spirit alive and inspiring others as she so inspired us.
Shirley Cronk died on Sunday, January 14, 2024, at Rose Arbor Hospice in Kalamazoo. Members of her family include her husband, Howard; children: Keith (Karen) Cronk, and Brian (Shela) Cronk; grandchildren: Jaymie, Erin, Chelsea, Amanda, Chase, Danielle, and Stephanie; great-grandchildren: Lucas and Paige; sisters: Joan Kellay and Robyn (Rich) Marazzi; and her brother, Miles (Debbie) Mintle. She was preceded in death by her granddaughter, Chelsea Cronk.
Please join us at a Life Story Visitation where food, drinks, and stories will be shared on Monday, January 22, from 5-7 pm at Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900. Life Story Services will be held at the same location on Tuesday, January 23 at 11 AM. Shirley will be buried at the Portage South Cemetery next to her dear granddaughter, Chelsea Cronk, who died in 2015. Visit Shirley's webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories, photos, and sign her guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to Rose Arbor Hospice.