Friday, November 15, 2019
5:00 PM to 7:00 PM EST
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Food and refreshments 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
With fierce determination and independence, Charlotte May White lived a life rich in family. An unwavering caregiver, Charlotte passionately ensured the good care of those she loved. Charlotte was constantly on the move, and she never let anyone down. The most reliable and hardworking person anyone could possibly know, Charlotte met life’s joys with gratitude and hardships with steadfast confidence. In so doing, she proved a powerful role model for all who were blessed to know her. Cherished by many, Charlotte’s legacy will long live in the hearts of those she loved.
Despite the obvious gloom of the Great Depression, 1935 gave birth to many celebrated firsts. While reeling in the heartache of Black Sunday, our nation’s 20% unemployment rate, and the gathering war clouds as Germany passed the Nuremberg laws, Americans found much hope in Amelia Earhart’s’ first solo Pacific flight, the inventions of parking meters, fluorescent tubes for light, and the game of Monopoly. Locally, Carl and Maxine (Rushmore) Tarnow held much hope for the future as they celebrated the birth of their daughter on August 16.
From her earliest days, Charlotte learned the values of family and hard work. Her parents ran the very first dairy business in Kalamazoo. Like many kids in her generation, Charlotte’s days were filled with chores. Along with her siblings, Charlotte worked to contribute to the success of the business and care for her family’s well being. At the age of 14, she started delivering milk to local customers. Driving the dairy truck before she had a license, she delivered door-to-door. Despite being frequently pulled over by the local police during her deliveries, as soon as she explained she was working for her dad, the cops would let her off, and she would head straight for home.
As the business grew to include an ice cream shop on Douglas St., and a catering business, so did Charlotte’s responsibilities. Not only did she help serve the area’s best malts, but she also bartended. Though Charlotte pleasantly served the guests their favorite adult beverages at her family’s restaurant and the Moose Lodge, she never drank herself. Balancing family business and school life with signature discipline, Charlotte’s teen years were filled with activity. She played high school softball and was on a bowling league which won the league title one year. Charlotte was a proud graduate of Kalamazoo Central High School.
During her elementary years, while on the playground one day, Charlotte met a young boy, Larry White. They remained friends for many years and started dating in high school. Though smitten with Larry, the dairy business always came first. Regardless of the challenges her responsibilities presented to their relationship, Charlotte always knew Larry was “the one” for her. In 1953 the young couple married and officially began their 31-year adventure.
After honeymooning on Mackinac Island, where Charlotte did not enjoy riding the horses, the newlyweds returned to Kalamazoo, where they settled into their home. Soon, they were blessed to welcome a daughter and three sons into their family. Creating a loving home for her family became Charlotte’s highest calling. With discipline, structure, and endless energy fueled by the 12 pots of coffee she drank every day, Charlotte strove to provide excellent care and strong traditions for her loved ones. She relished in the moments when all of the boys would go out on their dirt bikes, or hit the lakes for a day of fishing, as it afforded her a break! She even tolerated cleaning the days catch for them as they returned home.
Charlotte had firm expectations of her children, and when they didn’t meet them, they knew it. She balanced these expectations with fun traditions like hanging the Christmas tree upside down from the ceiling. Years later, when she saw someone else do the same thing, she claimed she was the first and should have patented the idea. She was a fabulous candy maker and made all kinds of chocolates. To ensure the quality of her work, she would make sure the kids stayed outside and didn’t touch anything. She was well known for making awesome breakfasts. They were always over the top and included an enormous buffet with all the trimmings. No one ever left her table hungry!
When Larry died in 1984, Charlotte had to work even harder to provide for her family. Driven by an innate need to be self-sufficient and fiercely independent, she struggled to allow others to help her. Instead, she stayed busy, doing all that she could to care for her family. This was most evident in how she powerfully met the challenges that came with three of her children battling diabetes.
Without a doubt, family always came first for Charlotte. As her children grew into adulthood and became parents themselves, her resolve grew too. She was a very interactive grandmother who lovingly played with the kids while also instilling her strong work ethic in them by putting them to work in the yard. As with her children, her expectations were firm and clear. When they were out of line, she’d point her finger at them. By this time, her finger was so crooked with arthritis that the kids joked they were never quite sure who she was pointing at. When great-grandkids came along, they always knew her as “Grandma White.” They thought it was because of her white hair rather than her last name.
As she aged and allowed herself more moments of leisure, Charlotte came to enjoy a good day at the casino. It was no surprise to anyone who knew her that even her time at the casino was rooted in solid structures that often began with collecting the casino junk mail that contained deals she might use. One famous casino outing found her playing three machines at once. Charlotte also enjoyed cheering on the Detroit Tigers. She continued to love her coffee throughout her entire life and was never seen without a cup of Joe. She always had her unwashed “seasoned” thermos in tow. Growing up in the era she did, she learned to be very thrifty and was never wasteful. Charlotte was mindful of those habits through her whole life.
A legend in the hearts of many, Charlotte will long be remembered with great fondness. Charlotte lived a heart-centered life, embracing life’s challenges and joys equally. She consciously chose to nurture others selflessly, and in so doing, taught each and every one of us to do the same. Charlotte’s powerful spirit will be deeply missed by many. With each cup of coffee and breakfast feast we enjoy, slot we play, challenge we confidently face, and moment we freely give of our time and talents, may we find both comfort and inspiration in knowing we are celebrating the many ways Charlotte gifted our lives.
Charlotte May White, of Kalamazoo, age 84, died peacefully on November 12, 2019 at Rose Arbor. Charlotte was preceded in death by her husband of 31 years, Larry White; two children: Lynn White and Rodney White; and her sister Irene “Arkie” Tiller. Surviving are her children: Steven (Martha) White and Larry White; grandchildren: Shelly (Harold) Nutter, Steven (Kristen) White, Sarah (Joshua) Miller, Lonnie (Ingrid) Glenn, Tracy (Cameron) Cross, Marcus White, and Sierah White; 12 great-grandchildren; siblings: Carl Tarnow Jr. and Louise (Ed) Smith; and several nieces and nephews. Visit with family and friends while sharing food and refreshments from 5-7 PM on Friday (NOV 15) at Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Dr., Kalamazoo, 269-375-2900 where services will be held at 10 AM on Saturday (NOV 16). Burial will follow at Grand Prairie Cemetery. Visit Charlotte’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. Memorial contributions may be made to Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation or Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan.