Where Food, Drinks & Stories Are Shared

Denise E. Franklin

May 8, 1970 - February 4, 2020
Kalamazoo, MI


Celebration of Life

Saturday, February 8, 2020
11:00 AM EST
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
Kalamazoo Location
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
(269) 375-2900

A reception will follow the service from 1pm - 4pm at Burdicks "Wings West", 5076 Sports Drive, Kalamazoo, MI 49009.

Driving Directions


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.

Rose Arbor Hospice
5473 Croyden Avenue
Kalamazoo, MI 49006
(269) 345-8910
Driving Directions
Web Site

West Michigan Cancer Center
200 North Park Street
Kalamazoo, MI 49007
(269) 382-2500
Driving Directions
Web Site

Boy's Education Fund c/o Laura Beegle


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

Life Story / Obituary


Although she was taken from her loved ones too soon, Denise Franklin made an immeasurable impact in the lives of all who were near. She worked hard, but she played hard, too, and her zest for life was contagious to all who were near. Denise had unending devotion to her loved ones, and there was nothing she loved more than being a mother. The heartbeat of wherever she was, she was impossible to miss. Life will never be the same without Denise here, but she leaves behind a timeless legacy that is deeply rooted in selfless love that her loved ones will proudly carry on in her footsteps.

The 1970s were an eventful time in America as we were on the brink of a technological explosion. Civil rights continued to be in the forefront of the day’s news, and women’s rights were also among the threads of the cultural fabric of the time. It was during this time that Denise was born on May 8, 1970 to Carol and Joe Schnurr in San Clemente, California. She was raised alongside her siblings, Scott, Tracey, and Kevin in Portage by Carol and Bob Fisher, who were married in 1981.

From the time she was a young girl Denise was the life of the party. She always had a big personality, and she was a friend to everyone she met. A redhead, it has been said that she wore her red hair well (and big). Denise loved roller skating at Roller World, listening to all types of music, attending her boys’ events, and especially family game nights. She attended local schools where she played softball and excelled in her studies. Denise was particularly good in English and French. After graduating from St. Augustine Elementary and later Hackett High School in 1988, Denise attended Central Michigan University where she focused on journalism and French.

A vibrant young woman, Denise was eager for all that was in store. She spent some time working at First of America Bank, but she stepped away from working outside of the home when she and Bret Franklin, whom she married in 1996, welcomed their son, Matthew, the following year into their hearts and home. Together they were blessed with two additional boys, Alex and Nathan, and Denise focused all her time and attention to raising their boys and caring for their home.

As a mother Denise was second to none. She was so full of love, and she was there to support her sons in all their activities, especially baseball and football games. Denise’s primary focus was to make sure that her kids were safe, and she set her sights on making sure they were well cared for and had what they needed. She was extremely outgoing and made a point of talking to everyone without expecting anything in return. Denise was amazing in the kitchen, and among the family favorites were her biscuits and gravy, sloppy joes, and stuffed peppers and mushrooms. She also taught her boys how to cook. As a family they played all kinds of games including backgammon, euchre, scrabble, dominos, ping pong, and watching her favorite show “Jeopardy”. Denise’s home was the place all her boys and their friends wanted to hang out, and she was always available to talk about anything and everything.

Throughout her life Denise was interested in many things. Although she wasn’t able to travel often, she did take the kids up North as well as to Ireland to attend her good friend wedding and several trips to Florida at school breaks. She equally enjoyed going out with friends, attending concerts, going to events in downtown Kalamazoo -especially volunteering at Ribfest every year!-, and taking road trips. Denise looked forward to hosting on holidays, and she especially loved Halloween and dressing up. She loved being behind the camera and took all kinds of pictures of everything the family did. For a few years beginning in 2006, Denise worked as a teller at Consumers Credit Union. From there she took a position as an office manager for Dr. Oosterhout Chiropractic and then Antoniotti Chiropractic until being forced to retire this past November. Denise loved antique shopping and looking for treasures at Goodwill or the farmer's market, and as someone who took great pride in looking her best Denise was always looking for new costume jewelry and fun outfits. She loved all music from Motown to soundtracks, Van Halen and 80’s music, but especially the hits of the 70’s. Denise had a fondness for and collected any type of stuffed or ornamental owls, Reese’s specialty candies were her favorite, and she was a Green Bay Packers fan. One of her many nicknames was “Night Owl”, given to her by her boyfriend “Smalls”, because she loved staying up late, often gazing at the stars together. They became a great pair as they loved to have fun and shared the gift of laughter often hosting campfire sing-a-longs and parties, attending sporting events and concerts, and diving into friends’ lakes and pools. One of her favorite lakes was “Beegle Beach” where she enjoyed relaxing, playing games, and spending time with the amazing Beegle Family. Sunday mornings were often spent attempting to solve crossword puzzles and challenging her brother Kevin in scrabble. Denise had an amazing group of friends who were all larger than life and became part of her extended family. Sadly, Denise was forced to slow down (some) after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016.

All who knew Denise Franklin would agree that she was so full of love. She gave the most amazing hugs, had an addicting laugh, and treated everyone like the most important person in the room. Her devotion to her family and friends was easy to see, Denise was selfless when it came to those around her, and she gave to others without expecting anything in return. Deeply loved, she will be forever missed.

Denise E. Franklin, died at Rose Arbor Hospice on February 4, 2020. She was preceded in death by her parents, Robert and Carol Fisher. Denise’s family includes her 3 sons: Matthew, Alex and Nathan; 3 siblings: Scott Schnurr, Tracey (Rob) Masterson, Kevin Fisher; many nieces, nephews, cousins; father of the boys, Bret Franklin; boyfriend, Dave “Smalls” Nette; biological dad, Joe and Carol Schnurr; and a lot of very close lifelong friends. Cremation will take place. A celebration will be held Saturday (Feb 8) 11 a.m. at Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900. Please visit Denise’s personal web page at www.BetzlerLifeStory.com, where you can archive a favorite memory or photo and sign her online guestbook before coming to the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made to Rose Arbor Hospice or West Michigan Cancer Center.