Where Food, Drinks & Stories Are Shared

Cara L. Milks

November 29, 1931 - September 5, 2023
Kalamazoo, MI



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.

Centrica Care Navigators
7100 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
(269) 345-0273
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Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.

1830 S. Westnedge
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
(269) 349-4961
Driving Directions
Web Site

Taylor's Florist and Gifts
215 E. Michigan Ave.
Paw Paw, MI 49079
(269) 657-6256
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Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


Cara Milks was a faithful and loyal woman. She was thrifty and a hard worker, and she always put her family first before herself.

1931 was the midst of the great depression, that also marked the decade that sparked the rise in Hollywood. Cara was born on November 29 into her parent's family farm where she was instilled with an ironclad work ethic. As a young girl, the words "Get your work done first—then play" were heard all the time by Burt and Ruth. Cara enjoyed her time in school and attended Augusta High School where she later graduated.

Cara went to work for Kellogg's in Battle Creek. Later, she took a job at American National Bank as a bank teller. The bank changed its name to Old Kent then 5/3 Bank but she remained dedicated to her co-worker and clients working for 15 years until her retirement.

In 1951 Cara met Burl Stafford. The two married, but Burl died unexpectedly only three years later. Cara was heartbroken but found someone new to love in 1955 when she discovered Donn Milks and the couple married the same year. Together, they raised 5 children, and Cara was a wonderful mom. In 1960, the family moved into a home that Cara would never leave on Vassar Drive in Kalamazoo.

Every holiday in the Milks' home was packed with family and good food. Cara's famous saying every meal was "Clean your plate." Some of her favorite foods were, hot dogs wrapped in bacon, and all Italian food. She loved tuna casserole, mini pizzas, and popcorn for a snack. For dessert, she was having mint chip ice cream. She enjoyed a refreshing Kool-Aid, but her favorite drinks were salty dogs and screwdrivers.

Cara had a passion for shopping, especially if she was getting decorations, because decorating was her other passion. She enjoyed spending her time sewing and gardening, taking photos, and reading a good story. Cara took every available trip to go out west and see her sisters. She connected with jazz and swing music, and she was a fantastic cook. Cara attended every sporting event of her family that she could, and whenever she told a story involving a car it always ended in vulgarity. When she sat down to turn on the TV, her go-to was a classic western.

Cara adored watching her grandchildren and was especially fond of playing all sorts of games with them. In 2013, she welcomed her son, Cameron, back into her home. The two helped care for each other and they formed an amazing bond.

Cara persevered through every obstacle in life. She was a survivor of cancer in her jaw and tongue, so it was difficult for her to talk, and along with the entire family, she grieved the death of her son, Cameron in 2020. Those close to her may embody her resilience, not only as a way to move forward but also to carry her spirit on.

Cara died on September 5, 2023, in her home, the way she wanted. She is preceded in death by her first husband, Beryl Stafford; second husband, Donald Milks; sons: Eric and Cameron Milks; and siblings: William Case, Patricia Stafford, Jean Smurlo, and Mary Chase. Members of her family include her 3 children: Sue (Ed) Zablocki, Cara (Tim) Kelly, and Matt (Jodi) Milks; 6 grandchildren: Sarah, Emily, Jessica, Jenny, Mitchell, and Mason; 3 great-grandchildren: Brennah, Hayden and Jaxon; brother, Thomas (Carol) Case; and many nieces and nephews. Cremation has taken place and a private celebration will be held with burial at Augusta Cemetery. Visit Cara’s webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories, photos and sign her guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to Centrica Care Navigators. Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo, MI 49009 (269) 375-2900