Friday, January 31, 2020
4:00 PM to 6:00 PM EST
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
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
A quiet woman with an inner strength, Clarissa "Cress" Strand met each day with a ready smile, warm heart, and deep compassion. A woman who never knew a stranger, Clarissa greeted everyone she met as a new friend. Clarissa was firmly rooted in both faith and family. She loved her family and friends immensely and was sure to acknowledge how much they meant to her. A devoted wife, mother, grandmother, and friend, Clarissa will long be remembered in the hearts of those who were blessed to know her.
Growing up in Ridgewood, New Jersey, Clarissa's early years were filled with activity and strong family values. While her father worked as a custodian at Willard Elementary School, her mother cleaned homes and was a seamstress. Along with her brother Jacob and sister Henrietta, Clarissa enjoyed growing up next door to the elementary school where they often played on the playground and baseball field with a group of neighborhood friends. The family attended the Midland Park Christian Reformed Church, where the firm foundation of Clarissa's lifelong faith was lovingly built.
During her years at George Washington Junior High, Clarissa carried her violin uphill both ways to school and took piano lessons from Mr. Amos. She held fond memories of when she graduated Junior High, including when her brother drove her to Washington D.C. for a vacation.
After graduating from Ridgewood High School in 1939, Clarissa continued her education at Ridgewood Secretarial School and later worked as a secretary at Wright Aeronautical Corporation in Patterson, NJ, during WWII in the early 1940s. While there, she had the pleasure of meeting Jimmy Doolittle, a famous American general and aviation pioneer, when he visited the office once.
More importantly, also while working at Wright Aeronautical, she had the good fortune of meeting Edward Strand, an engineer at the company. One of their first dates was going to lunch, and in little time, they were a couple setting their eyes on sharing their futures. On May 22, 1947, the happy couple celebrated their love in an intimate wedding ceremony held at her sister's house, officially beginning their 50-year adventure.
In time, Clarissa and Ed were blessed to welcome four children into their family. Edward, Barbara, David, and Nancy became the center of their lives, and Clarissa proudly stayed home for many years to raise them. In 1971, once her children were grown, Clarissa returned to work at Western Michigan University. There, she served as the Economics Department secretary until she retired in 1982.
Social and adventurous, Clarissa loved to meet new people and travel to new places. While raising her children, she and Ed took them on many wonderful family vacations. They often traveled by station wagon and slept in a tent, camping throughout Michigan and at many national parks including the Great Smokey Mountains. One of her most memorable trips was to Germany and Switzerland in 1985. The magic of the trip was magnified by the fact that Clarissa never thought she would visit these faraway places. After retiring, she and Ed enjoyed wintering in Ft Myers Beach, Florida, where they made many wonderful friends.
Whether traveling near or far, Clarissa easily made friends. For many years, she and Ed would walk Crossroads Mall, where they would "Walk and Talk" with their many mall friends. An active member at Second Reformed Church since 1966, Clarissa participated in many different church functions over the years. These included the Circle group of senior ladies who would visit and share a bible study. She also participated in the "Prime Timers," which was a co-ed seniors' bible study group who enjoyed outings together to places like Shipshewana or Fred Meijer Gardens.
Without a doubt, Clarissa's greatest joy was her family. She relished in gathering her family together and took great pride in creating special holiday events. Doting endlessly on her grandkids and great-grandkids, she enveloped them in love, affection, and confidence. She often took time to share with her family how grateful she was for them and how proud she was of their good health and happiness. Even in her quiet time, when Clarissa enjoyed reading, sewing, knitting, and crocheting, she always kept her family close in mind, often spending this time lovingly creating them many special treasures.
Though the world is surely duller in the absence of Clarissa's bright light and happy disposition, her beautiful legacy will continue to shine brilliantly in the hearts and lives of those she leaves behind.
Clarissa "Cress" Strand, age 98, died peacefully on January 28, 2020. Preceded in death by her husband, Edward, in 2000; her brother, Jacob VanDenBerg; and her sister, Henrietta Borst. Surviving are her children: Edward (Vicki) Strand, Barbara (Dennis) Shouse, David (Laura) Strand, and Nancy (Kevin) Tallio; 8 grandchildren: Tyson (Anna), Mark (Allison), Gregg (Aimee), Nathan (Laura), Jonathan (Meredith), Kyle, Jacob, and Clarissa; and 13 great-grandchildren: Madeline, Adrienne, Isiah, Aubrey, Henry, Julian, Norah, Asa, Ella Grace, Parker, Kelsey, Hunter, Bennett; and many nieces and nephews.
Visit with family and friends on Friday (JAN 31) from 4-6 PM at Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900. Services will be held at 11 AM on Saturday (FEB 1) at Second Reformed Church, 2323 Stadium Drive, with a luncheon in the church hall. Burial at Grand Prairie Cemetery.
Visit Clarissa'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 Second Reformed Church or Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan.