Life Story / Obituary
With a warm smile and heart, Beverly L. Kersten lived a life rich in family and friends. Bev was a kind and generous woman who freely gave all that she could to lighten others' loads. She embraced the beauty in each day and people she met. A devoted daughter, sister, cousin, wife, mother, aunt, and homemaker, Bev was an avid gardener, accomplished seamstress, and gifted floral designer. Despite life's hardships, Bev's attention to detail, perfectionism, and commitment to celebrating the beauty in the world proved powerful inspiration for all who were fortunate enough to know her. Cherished by many, Bev's lovely spirit will long live in the hearts of those she loved.
Though 1938 held much to celebrate, including President Roosevelt's signing of The Fair Standards Act and Hollywood's film version of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," the continued challenges of the Great Depression coupled with the systematic persecution of Jews in Europe, spread concern and fear across the globe. Despite the obvious gloom of the Great Depression and the growing conflict in Europe, many families found a way to continue to center their lives in love and hope for a brighter future. Nowhere was hope more evident than in the home of Lloyd and Louise (Kemble) Campbell as they welcomed their firstborn child, Beverly, into their hearts and home on August 15.
Born in East Chicago, Indiana, experiencing the blackouts and rationing of products during WWII left a deep impression on Bev. While her mother was a homemaker, her father settled into a career on the management team at Lee Paper Company, later known as Simpson Lee Paper Company, in Vicksburg, Michigan. When her family first moved and settled in Vicksburg, they lived in the village on Park Street, and when she was a teen, the family moved to Sunset Lake. Not only did Bev enjoy the good company of her younger brother, Ron-known as Ronnie as a child born in 1942, she also spent a lot of time with her cousins, Sandy and Joanne Raymond. Many cherished memories were made with the Campbell and Kemble families in West Lafayette, Indiana. Bev enjoyed a close relationship with her maternal grandparents, Raymond and Nellie Kemble, and her love of animals began in her early years with her family's cats and black Cocker Spaniel.
At the age of 13, Bev was gifted with meeting the love of her life, 15-year-old James W. Kersten. The pair first met over the fence that separated the backyards of her parents' home and Jim's sister and brother-in-law's, Phyllis and Del Charles, home in Vicksburg. Instantly smitten, the schoolmates were friends and later began dating and soon became a couple setting their eyes on sharing the future. Bev and Jim enjoyed many dates to the movies in Kalamazoo at the State and Capital Theaters. A hard worker with a gift for detail, Bev began working as a teen at the Soda Fountain in Vicksburg; she later found work at First National Bank in Kalamazoo and the Dress Shop on the top of West Main hill in Kalamazoo.
After graduating from Vicksburg High School in 1957, Bev joined Jim at Michigan State University in East Lansing, where she continued her schooling. On September 12, 1959, the longtime sweethearts celebrated their love and commitment to one another in a wedding ceremony at the Vicksburg United Methodist Church. Surrounded by family and friends, the happy couple officially began their 61-year adventure together.
The newlyweds first settled in Lawton, where they happily started a much-anticipated family the following year, with a total of four children born during the 1960s. In time, they moved to Paw Paw before settling on Kalamazoo's west side on Croyden Avenue and then building Bev's dream home in 1970. Bev dedicated herself to creating a loving and supportive home for her family. With an artist's eye and spirit, she created and tended beautiful flower gardens in her yards. Her training as a floral designer inspired many exquisite creations. She passionately gifted her family and friends with stunning floral arrangements and perfected the art of decorating her home. Christmastime always found her guests enveloped in beautiful decorations. From her exquisite Christmas tree to the perfectly appointed decorations throughout the house, her home reflected her lovely heart in every way.
Many family traditions were enjoyed over the years, including trips to the Elks Club on West Main Street Kalamazoo to swim in the pool and watch the 4th of July firework shows. Beginning in 1996 Jim and Bev enjoyed 26 summers at their summer home near Lake Michigan in South Haven with frequent trips to the local farmer's markets. Skiing together, canning tomatoes, baking green Christmas tree cookies, making Chex mix at Christmas time, sharing the secret Kemble recipe for banana bread and baking together became treasured rituals for all. Bev also poured herself into creating and sewing Halloween costumes for her children and going on their annual trips to Gene the Pumpkin Man in Kalamazoo every October.
A person who naturally recognized the beauty in everything, Bev was easily contented by her everyday gifts. She cherished nothing more than sharing time with her loved ones and tending to her homes' gardens. An accomplished seamstress, Bev's talents and eye for detail were evident in the outfits she made for herself and her children, as well as in her cross-stitch and embroidery work. She relished in Michigan summers and sunshine, spending long hours reading in the backyard and marveling at the sunsets over Lake Michigan. Attending John Denver concerts and cheering on her beloved MSU sports teams with her college friends, Jim's fraternity brothers, and their families always proved a good time. Bev's love for animals continued her entire life. Bev shared a deep love and connection with her family's Miniature Schnauzers, starting in 1975 with Whiskers, then Misty, Daisy, Misty II, and currently, Precious. She also adored her two rescue kitties, Shadow and Sweetie.
While it is hard to imagine life in the absence of Bev's bright and beautiful spirit, may we find comfort in many treasured memories. May we also find comfort in the honor of carrying her legacy forward. With each moment we explore the flowers growing around us, Lake Michigan's wonders from South Beach in South Haven, the delight of sharing holidays with loved ones, and cheering on the Spartans, we celebrate the many ways Bev gifted our lives. In this way, we keep her spirit alive and radiating out to a world that so needs her love and light.
Beverly L. Kersten, of Kalamazoo, age 82, died peacefully at her home on February 28, 2021, after a short & fierce struggle with cancer. She is preceded in death by her children, Ricky L. Kersten (1963) and Tammy L. Kersten (1977); her parents, Lloyd and Louise Campbell; her in-laws, Martin and Lillian Kersten; brother and sister-in-law, John and Crystal Horst; sister-in-law, Phyllis Charles; and nephews, Marty and Joel VanDerVeen. She is survived by her loving husband of 61 years, Jim Kersten; her adult children, Craig J. Kersten, Artist of Chicago, IL and Nic L. Kersten, Animal Rescuer of Los Angeles, CA; brother and sister-in-law, Ron and Kathy Campbell; nieces, Marisa Campbell and Kristie Ward; grand-nieces, Kaylah, Amanda, and Molly Anderson; brother-in-law, Delbert Charles; nieces, Cheryl VanDerVeen, Lynn VanDerVeen Campbell, and Rebecca Charles Delabarre; and nephews, Jim Vanderveen and Bradley Charles. A special thank you to all at Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan, especially Katie, Cindy, and Sharon. Cremation has taken place. A memorial will be planned and announced by the family in the spring/summer of 2021. In lieu of flowers, the Kersten family asks that donations be made in Bev's name to Kalamazoo Animal Rescue (kalamazooanimalrescue.org) 269-226-8570 and/or Susan G. Komen Foundation: Breast Cancer Charity (komen.org) 877-GO KOMEN Option 4. Visit Beverly's personal webpage at www.BetzlerLifeStory.com, where you may read her Life Story, archive a favorite memory or photo, and sign her online guestbook. Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Dr., Kalamazoo, 269-375-2900