Friday, November 22, 2019
5:00 PM to 8:00 PM EST
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Food and drinks will be served.
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
When reflecting on the life of Catherine Wurtzel, it is easy to see the unconditional love she had for others woven throughout everything she did. Forever devoted to her family she had an amazing way of making each and every family member feel uniquely special. Deeply loved, Catherine will be forever missed.
The 1930’s were a time unlike any other. As the United States struggled through the Great Depression, tough economic times were also being experienced over 3,500 miles away in Scotland. Despite challenging circumstances, John and Catherine (Ellis) Friel were able to shift their focus to an exciting time in their own lives as they were blessed with the birth of the baby girl they named Catherine Ann on May 23, 1935 in Falkirk, Scotland.
Catherine was raised in their family home next to the Nobel Munitions Factory and the neighboring Railway where her father was employed. John (her father) was a proud member of the Gordon Highlander Regiment that fought so bravely in World War I. Catherine’s mother was employed at Alexander’s Department store in Falkirk. 1939 marked the beginning of World War II. Growing up during wartime in Scotland posed many challenges. Catherine’s mother stood in line for many hours to receive food rations for the family. Many nights were spent living in low to no light so that the town, being so close to the munitions factory, could avoid German bomber detection. As the war progressed, Catherine’s father even built a small bunker in the back yard in the event their country was invaded by enemy forces. 1945 marked the end of the War and while Catherine was just 10 years of age, the experiences and sacrifices of WWII were key in forming her character and the positive outlook that she carried with her for the rest of her life.
In 1945, when Catherine was 14, she came to the United States aboard the Queen Mary to visit her relatives that had settled in the Ann Arbor area. During her 3-month visit Catherine would experience many wonderful things with her family and while she was ready to head back to Scotland, she also knew that America would be a part of her future in some way. Over the next 4 years, Catherine would work diligently to complete her studies at Falkirk Technical. From there, she enrolled at college in Edinburgh, Scotland which she completed over the next 2 years while working full-time at Calor Gas Company and then Read Paper Company. In 1957, Catherine’s memories of the Unites States and the promise of better opportunities would lead her back across the Atlantic Ocean once again.
Once in the United States, Catherine’s cousin (Henry Aquinto) from Ann Arbor got her an interview with Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, Michigan. She was hired in as the Secretary to the Vice President of Ford International. Catherine was the ultimate professional and she was proud to work for Ford Motor Company. It was while working at Ford that Catherine’s life was forever changed when she met the man who would hold the key to her heart. His name was Philip Wurtzel. They were introduced by a mutual friend. Phil was struck by her beauty and asked her out while at a bar in Bay Port, Michigan. Catherine loved Phil’s work ethic, sense of humor and as an only child, she immediately loved and was embraced by Phil’s large family from Freeland, Michigan.
They were married on April 23, 1960, at St. Thomas Aquinas in Saginaw, Michigan. The newlyweds then spent a week in Hollywood, Florida for their honeymoon. They initially settled in Detroit and in 1961 the couple moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan as Phil embarked on a new job opportunity. They set about building a house just outside Kalamazoo in Scotts, Michigan. This was the place they would call home for the rest of their lives together.
Catherine and Phil were blessed with the births of five children which included Ann, Kathryn, Philip, Steve, and Ryan. They both felt very blessed to have a large and healthy family and made it their life’s work to ensure that they held all of their children close to their hearts.
There was never anything of greater importance to Catherine than her family. Periodic trips back to Scotland to see Catherine’s Mother and Father were always a priority and they saved every penny to ensure that their children knew their grandparents and their Scottish heritage. Because her parents did not have a phone in their home, she was diligent about writing to them twice per week. The act of letter writing was something that Catherine would embrace during her entire life as she enjoyed reaching out to family, friends and other loved ones through the use handwritten notes or cards.
As a mother she was always present in the moment and was active in the lives of her children. Summer days by the pool, sporting events, family functions and holiday celebrations were always made special and memorable. If Catherine did something, it was almost always for her kids. Later in life, her perpetual acts of kindness and love would expand to her grandchildren that she loved so dearly. Her cooking was unmatched and she could do it all in the kitchen. Catherine knew that food helped bring people together and long hours preparing meals for her family and friends was a labor of love that showed up in every dish.
Catherine was very diverse in her interests and passions. She loved gardening and her love for flowers was evident if you walked around her home. She was an avid reader and would finish 3-4 books per week. As a lifelong citizen of the United Kingdom, Catherine maintained a love for her home Country but she was also a very proud and passionate American. Her interest in U.S. politics and current events was tremendous and she always enjoyed a spirited discussion. Catherine enjoyed American Television but she also loved British crime mysteries. Casino visits with Phil and her kids would also become a welcome event that she greatly enjoyed. Her luck was excellent and her stories of winning always put a smile on everyone’s face.
Throughout her life Catherine was always on the go. She and Phil built a lake Cottage during the 90’s in Sherwood, Michigan and then later in life, the two purchased a small home in New Port Richey, Florida that they would visit during the winter months. They made many wonderful friends in both areas that would bring them both great happiness. Catherine managed all elements of each household and kept things moving while Phil worked on his business. They complimented each other perfectly and would be married for over 55 years until Phil passed away on November 9, 2015. She would miss him dearly and spoke of him often with her children and Phil’s wonderful sister, Dorothy Murin. There was no doubt that he was the love of her life and she was his.
All who knew Catherine Wurtzel would agree that she was truly beautiful inside and out. She was the perfect balance of a person that enjoyed the moment but also set goals and looked forward to what was next. Catherine made sure to show her family that they were loved in every way and she was quick to tell them how very proud she was of them all. Life will never be the same without Catherine here, but she leaves behind a timeless legacy that her family will proudly carry on.
Catherine Wurtzel, age 84, died on November 15, 2019 at home surrounded by her loving family. Catherine’s family includes her children: Ann (Shawn) Gloden, Kathryn (Buck) Rauch, Philip (Darcye) Wurtzel, Steve (Angie) Wurtzel, and Ryan (Heather) Wurtzel; 11 grandchildren: Courtney, Nicole, Rebecca, Heather, Matthew, Jack, Liam, Maximus, Alexander, Madison and Mackenzie; a great-grandson, Jace; Special Friends: Dr. Jim & Lori Stepanski, The Murray Family, Paul & Mary Moscardini, Pete Noteboom and many wonderful nephews, nieces and friends. Catherine was preceded in death by her husband of 55 years, Philip; in-laws: Mary (Sam) Healander, Fred Wurtzel, Alice (Frank) MacRae, Edmund (Sarah) Wurtzel, Arthur (Cile) Wurtzel, Bob (Kay) Kossak, Donald (Julie) Wurtzel, Dorothy (Joe) Murin, Joe (Patty) Wurtzel; and John (Jean) Murray – her Scottish family. Visit with family and friends while sharing food and drinks from 5-8 p.m. on Friday (NOV 22) at Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Dr., Kalamazoo, 269-375-2900. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Saturday (NOV 23) at 11 a.m. at St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church, Vicksburg. Burial will follow at Cook Cemetery, Scotts. Directly following the burial, a reception will be held at the Scotts Community Center, 8450 S. 36th Street, Scotts, Michigan. Food and drinks provided. Visit Catherine’s personal webpage at www.BetzlerLifeStory.com where you may archive a favorite memory or photo, and sign her online guestbook. Special thanks to Walton Medical, McLaren Hospital – 6th Floor Oncology Unit, and Custom Care Hospice for their care and support. Memorial contributions may be made to The Willis Foundation or St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.