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Life Story / Obituary
All who knew Elizabeth O’Hara would agree she was uniquely beautiful inside and out. She was kind, compassionate, and generous beyond compare to all who were in her reach. Liz was deeply devoted to her family, and she just might have argued that becoming a grandmother and great-grandmother was life’s richest reward. She always had a listening ear and genuinely cared about everyone she met. Life will never be the same without Liz here, but she leaves behind a timeless legacy that her loved ones will proudly carry on in her footsteps.
The dark days of the Great Depression were certainly a reality in the United States, but the effects were felt throughout the world. It was in 1931 when the effects began hitting Italy hard, although this same year brought tremendous joy and celebration in the lives of Attilio and Regina (Cassini) Martin as they announced the birth of the baby girl they named Elisa on October 18th. Born and raised in Zoppola, Italy, Liz came to the United States with her mother in 1934. Her father had been working for seven years already in this country, following several of his brothers who had come earlier. The family then moved to Windsor Canada, where he worked at Chrysler for several years before becoming a terrazzo tile layer. One of three, Liz was joined in her family by her brothers, Livio and Foster. While in Canada the family moved around a lot to say the least, and Liz attended 13 different schools in the years she lived in Windsor. They then moved to California in 1946 where her father’s brothers lived. Liz fell in love with California while there, before her parents moved the family to Battle Creek, Michigan. Liz made friends quickly, playing on the basketball team among other interests, and soon graduated from St. Phillips High School.
New and exciting changes were in store for Liz when she met the man whom she would marry. His name was Edward O’Hara. They met while Liz was dating his friend. Edward was persistent, patiently asking several times before she agreed to go out with him. Edward was polite and a genuinely nice guy. In time, their love grew. With a desire to spend the rest of their lives together Liz and Edward were married on February 9, 1952. Together they welcomed four children including Michael, Kathy, Mary, and Gina.
Liz and Edward were a great couple who enjoyed doing so many things. They often bowled together and took many bowling trips throughout the Great Lakes area. Of their many travel adventures together, Hawaii, Las Vegas, and cruises were among their favorites. Liz also made several trips to Italy to see her relatives who always looked forward to her visits. They took in many baseball games, often making an overnight trip of the outings in Detroit, Cincinnati, and Milwaukee. The family also ventured to northern Michigan on several occasions. In 1970, they began visiting the shoreline, wineries, and shopping districts around Traverse City. They were drawn to the area so much they planned an annual trip every summer for the past 50 years. Later in life, Liz went back to California for class reunions. She was exceptional at keeping in touch with her many friends even though she had only attended school there for two years.
The love Liz had for others was far-reaching. She was an amazing grandmother who was there to support all her grandchildren in their sporting events and activities. One to keep up with tradition, Liz made certain every birthday was celebrated with flare and love. Liz instilled within her grandchildren the importance of family, engaging in conversation with her grandkids throughout their lives, a constant guide and comfort to each of them. Regular phone calls to them were always special. Everyone knew they could always rely on her to help the family, whether babysitting, cooking, or anything the kids or grandkids needed. Liz had a unique way of making people feel important and valued by listening to what they had to say. A friend of hers was a best friend for life.
In addition to caring for her family, Liz kept busy in many other ways. Prior to having children she worked at Kellogg’s in Battle Creek. As her children grew older she found her way back to the workplace at Clark Equipment and later retiring from Ralston’s. Liz was known amongst her colleagues for her excellent shorthand and other secretarial expertise. She told her kids, “Just learn how to type and you’ll get a job.”
She was in several bridge clubs, and it was obvious Liz didn’t play just for the fun of it. She played to win! As her family and friends can attest, Liz was also a bargain shopper who may have been just a bit to obsessive about it. She loved sharing her bargain haul with family and friends, and she shopped all year for Christmas and birthday gifts, even up to her last days. She also possessed a remarkable talent for sewing just about anything, often without a pattern, including bridesmaid’s dresses, curtains, and the very best Barbie clothes.
Independent, compassionate, and full of Italian spirit, Elizabeth O’Hara proudly shared her heritage, love of tradition, and most importantly her time with all those around her. Her relationships were among her most precious things in life and she made sure people knew it, whether sending a simple card, remembering a special occasion to get people together, or just ringing you on the phone. Eternally optimistic, Liz easily and without fail was able to see the positive in every person and every situation. Liz was the rock of her family, and the way she made everyone feel uniquely loved was perhaps what made her so treasured.
Elizabeth O’Hara, age 89, died on January 10, 2021. Liz was preceded in death by her husband, Edward; their daughter, Gina; and her brother, Livio Martin. Surviving are her children: Michael O’Hara, Kathy (Dave) Vaughn, and Mary (Jimmie) Good; grandchildren: Kelly, Meghan, Kalica, Jonathan, Ryan, Jenny, Jacob, Hannah and Jared; great-grandchildren: Kyran, Kyley, Quincy, Cameron, Beau, Ella, Olivia, Connor, Isaac, and Silas; her brother: Foster (Linda) Martin; and many nieces and nephews. Private services will be held with burial at Memorial Park Cemetery, Battle Creek. Visit Liz’s personal webpage at www.BetzlerLifeStory.com where you may archive a favorite memory or photo, and sign her online guestbook. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to St. Jude Children’s Hospital or Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan. Arrangements by Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900.