Life Story Visitation
Life Story / Obituary
Selfless, genuine, and loyally devoted to the family she loved, Carole Ann Kite lived her life to the fullest. Known for her love of humankind, she held a special place in her heart for her two children and four grandchildren, and opened her heart to many who adopted her as their own. She passed along a remarkable collection of memories and life values for her many special friends and family to cherish forever.
Carole’s story began during a time that was marked by WWII. It was 1942 when Elmer and Cecile (Orr) Morris announced the birth of their baby girl on April 13th in Portage, Michigan. She was the youngest of 5 siblings, and her birth brought much joy and promise in an era of great change.
Growing up, her father worked as a sewing machine repairman and salesman. Her mother was a skilled seamstress, and made Carole’s wedding dress which was also worn by her daughter! As a child, Carole was blessed to live next door to her maternal grandmother and across the street from her siblings along with nieces and nephews. Together they enjoyed traveling and camping together. Studious and ambitious, Carole was the secretary of her graduating class from Portage (Central) High School in 1960. She went on to study accounting at both Western Michigan and Kalamazoo Valley College.
After graduation, Carole actively sought employment. Her first job was at Kresge’s Five and Dime Store, working in the candy department. From there she worked as a cashier at Harding's Marketplace. Once her children were born and ready for school, Carole was hired as a fire dispatcher for the City of Kalamazoo. During the memorable 1980 tornado in Kalamazoo, Carole bravely remained on the phone while the firefighters took shelter in the basement. She later worked in the City Clerk’s office, and ultimately held the role of Director of the Accounts Payable Department for the City of Kalamazoo, retiring after twenty-three years of service. Shortly after announcing her retirement, she was invited to work part time in the accounts payable department for McDonald's Towing, and did this for another eight years. Her approachable, dependable, and kind personality traits led her to make many lifelong friends with her co-workers along the way.
Her beloved spouse Terry “rolled right into her life” at J&D Roller Rink. His skating skills caught Carole’s eye, while her eyes and sweet smile caught his attention. Terry knew from that meeting that he wanted to see her again. They continued dating, spending time at the roller rink and movie theaters. The two of them fell in love and were joined in marriage in 1962. Terry promised her their lives would be filled with love, adventure, friends, family, and good food! This set the course for their young love and together, over the course of sixty years, they embraced each one!
Terry and Carole built a memorable life together, while Carole also enjoyed taking ceramics classes (these labors of love will be passed on to generations), and bowling with girlfriends in a women’s league. They were blessed with two wonderful children, Erik in 1965 and Jennifer Jae, “JJae,” in 1970. Among many family pets, Bair and Bruiser were Carole’s lapside companions.
As a young family they enjoyed multi-family dune buggy vacations in northern Michigan, and spent time at the Shingledecker Dairy Farm in Marcellus. No one can forget the Kite’s Annual Punchbowl which closed out another trip around the earth, bringing back together friends from around the country. It was a time to reconnect with friends and continue the lifelong, treasured friendships. Carole and Terry extended gatherings to include summers at Gravel Lake and Huzzy Lake, where they shared their love of water and boating with their growing family. They wisely purchased a 28 foot, 15 passenger pontoon boat in the summer of 1989. The call for a “boat ride” was seldom unanswered! Years of memories were made at the lake, from playing Carole’s favorite card game “Peanuts” and watching Disney videos with her beloved grandkids, to sitting under custom made palapas’ or making breakfast lakeside. Carole and Terry searched for sunshine in the winter months too, organizing travel for groups of friends to Mexico for thirty-five years! They also were able to take five wonderful Windjammer cruises. Carole loved the ceremonial playing of “Amazing Grace” when the ship set sail. Perhaps it was the turquoise of the Caribbean waters, or sea turtles she’d see on vacations, but all who know her recognize these as her “signature color,” and her favorite keepsake.
A common thread throughout Carole’s life was the importance of being available for her family. As her children’s families settled nearby, Carole was able to frequently host her grandkids, even overnight. They knew they would wake to freshly baked cinnamon rolls and a warm hug from grandma. She always kept 2% milk in her refrigerator for the grandkids even though she preferred skim. Other memorable treats include ice cream drumsticks, goldfish crackers, and Sunny D. Whenever they were sick, they knew that grandma would be ready with a can of Sprite and a baggie of goldfish crackers to heal them! Carole embraced the role of Grandma. Her home was their safe haven, and a place where love and laughter, security and support would be found. She cherished being included in their lives, and surrounded herself with photographs of Sydnee, Sam, Emma, and Annabelle. Carole was their greatest fan, attending their school events, sporting events, and awards ceremonies. A uniquely beautiful gift she gave them was the comfort of always knowing they could confide in her about anything without the worry of embarrassment or judgment. She encouraged them through the song, “Jesus Loves Me” and the Serenity Prayer. Grandma Carole was, and is still, their hero.
As a matter of fact, Carole was simply there for anyone in need, and had a gift of making people feel special. A true testament to her genuine kindness was the fact that she kept a special calendar with every family member’s or close friend’s birthday. The first thing she did when she woke up was to check the calendar and call to sing Happy Birthday to her loved ones and special friends! Her beautiful singing voice was often the first sound they heard on their special day. She touched the lives of many through this simple gesture. Each and every day, Carole made sure that her family and friends felt her love. She wanted nothing but the best for each and every one of them. Together with Terry, she hosted Mexico picture parties, family reunion dinners, and holiday celebrations. In 2022, Carole met milestones including: the 50th punchbowl party in January, her 80th birthday in April, and her and Terry’s 60th wedding anniversary in October. We were also blessed to share Thanksgiving and Christmas together. She was surrounded by her loved ones! Although Carole was challenged with health issues, she was determined to push through. Clad in her favorite sweatshirts, embroidered with “grandma” and “grandkids” or the Michigan Wolverines, adorned in a sparkly ball cap, blue and gold scarf, or her favorite turquoise necklace, she continued to be the sunshine in our lives.
When asked “How are you?” Grandma would most recently respond “old!” In our minds however, we would have her respond in this way: “I am your angel on Earth and the sweetest person you know.” Carole will be deeply missed. Her loving, selfless, tender, nurturing ways were her greatest legacy. May her loved ones carry these teachings and lifelong memories with them forever.
Carole Ann Kite, age 80, of Kalamazoo, MI, passed away peacefully on January 4, 2023. Carole was preceded in death by her parents and siblings: Betty Freas, Donna Rynd, Mary Morse, and Eugene Morris; and Bruiser, her favorite dog. Surviving are her husband, Terry; children: Erik (Kristin) Kite and JJae (Mandy) Baker; grandchildren: Sydnee Baker, Samuel Kite, Emma Kite, and Annabelle Kite; and many special nieces and nephews. Please join us at a Life Story Visitation on Friday, January 13th from 4-7 PM at Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo 269-375-2900. Following visitation, friends and guests are invited to the Schoolcraft-Portage Eagles #3531, 11611 Shaver Rd, Schoolcraft. Visit Carole’s webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories and photos and sign her guestbook.