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Life Story / Obituary
All who knew Ethel Mack would agree that she was truly beautiful on the inside and out. Guided by an unwavering faith, she exemplified what it means to live a life fully devoted to the Lord she loved. Although she treasured her roles as a wife and mother, Ethel just might have argued that nothing was better than becoming a grandmother later in life. Life wasn’t without times of trial for her, but she faced whatever came her way head on and counted each day as God’s perfect provision for her. Deeply loved, Ethel will be forever missed.
During the first half of the 1940s, the eyes of our nation were focused overseas as WWII called countless young American men and women to defend the freedoms we still enjoy today. With the end of WWII in 1945, there was much to celebrate. This same year was cause for great joy in the lives of Bastian and Johanna (Gruizinga) Beeke as they announced the birth of the baby girl they named Ethel on September 16 in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
In many ways Ethel was a typical young girl of her generation. She was one of six children as she was raised in the family home alongside her siblings, Grace, John, William, Adrian, and Robert. From a young age Ethel was raised in the church, and her faith played a vital role in her life throughout all her years. She became a strong Christian woman whose life was an inspiration to so many. She attended local schools and graduated from Mattawan High School. Many of Ethel’s friends were made from various Bible groups, and for a time she was a youth leader at Calvary Reformed Church in Mattawan. Over the years she was always active in her church, only slowing down when she dealt with the lasting effects of a stroke years later.
It isn’t all that surprising that it was through her church that Ethel met the man with whom she would share the best years of her life. His name was Stanley Mack, and they were set up on a blind date. It didn’t take long for a deep love to take root. Ethel and Stanley shared a love story that most can only dream of, and they were inseparable from the time they met. As their family and friends can attest, you could never find one without the other. With a desire to spend the rest of their lives together, Ethel and Stanley were married, marking the beginning of a new chapter in a love story that would span 53 years. Together they welcomed two children, Amy and Sara, and step-son, Benjamin, into their hearts and home.
Ethel raised her children to have strong Christian morals and values, and she wasn’t afraid to discipline them when needed. In her home, Sundays were the Lord’s day, which meant a day of rest when they weren’t allowed to go out. Every other day of the week though, Ethel was there to support her children in all their events and activities and was a constant presence in their lives. When grandchildren arrived later in life, she couldn’t have been more proud, and it was easy to see that her grandchildren were the apple of her eye. Ethel had a way of making each of her grandchildren feel special, and she created priceless traditions with them.
In addition to caring for her family and home, Ethel applied her strong work ethic in the work force. After high school she began working at Gibson Guitars in Kalamazoo. Later in life, she was always so proud of her grandson who learned to play guitar. Later, Ethel became a caterer for business meetings, luncheons, weddings, and events at Kalamazoo Valley Community College. She loved to cook so this job was a natural fit, which she never really viewed as work. For a short time, she was also a cook for the Kalamazoo jail.
Over the years Ethel was a woman of many interests who was constantly busy. She loved writing and even has a published book that she typed using only one hand due to her stroke. Ethel loved her cats, and she always had one sitting on her while writing. She loved her cats so much that Stanley even joked Ethel would write about her cat before she wrote about him! She was very into genealogy and loved sharing all her discoveries with her brother. Ethel enjoyed Christian music, and she had an extensive collection of bird and owl figurines. Her daughter bought her a new owl figurine every year, and Ethel often picked one up if she saw one while out and about.
Strong, generous, brave, and selfless are just a few of the words that describe Ethel Mack. She was always willing to help, and even after her stroke her strength and resolve were unwavering. Ethel treasured her family above all else on this side of heaven. She was the sort of person who was always willing to help, and she never met a stranger. Although life will never be the same without her here, Ethel leaves behind a timeless legacy that her loved ones will proudly carry on in her footsteps.
Ethel M. Mack of Kalamazoo, age 75, died on August 21, 2021. Ethel was preceded in death by her husband, Stanley; her sister, Grace Thrasher; her brother: John Beeke; and her parents. Surviving are her children: Amy (Rick) Johnson and Sara Mack; step-son, Benjamin Mack; grandchildren: Tyler Johnson, Mykayla Johnson, Gail Mack, and Elizabeth Holfeldt; siblings: William Beeke, Adrian Beeke, and Robert Beeke; and many nieces and nephews whom she loved.
Cremation has taken place. Please join us for a graveside service Wednesday (SEP 1) at 11 AM at Mt. Ever Rest Memorial Park, 3941 S. Westnedge Ave., Kalamazoo. Visit Ethel’s webpage at www.BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories, photos, and sign his guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to Kellogg Bird Sanctuary. Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo 269-375-2900.