Saturday, December 14, 2019
11:00 AM EST
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
A luncheon will follow in the Life Story Center. Burial at Vicksburg Cemetery after the luncheon.
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.
Fulton Christian Church
14108 E W Ave
Fulton, MI 49052
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Loving, patient, and kind, Florence Belden lived a life rich in family and friends. With a servant’s heart, Florence met life’s challenges and joys equally and with unflinching grace and courage. Though life was rarely easy for Florence, she always believed it was good. A devoted wife, mother, grandmother, and friend, she welcomed each day as a gift. In so doing, she proved a powerful role model for all who were blessed to know her. Cherished by many, Florence will long be remembered.
The 1920s were marked by tremendous confidence, prosperity, and previously unknown comforts. The economy boomed, wages rose for most Americans, and prices fell, resulting in a higher standard of living for most. With the inventions of the washing machine, vacuum cleaner, self-winding watch, bulldozer, the instant camera, drive-in restaurants, Band-Aids, and the convertible, the post-war era marked significant advancement and morale flourished throughout the land. This vibrant time grew even more brilliant in Manchester, Tennessee, as Elmer and Mary (Frizzel) Reynolds welcomed their daughter Florence into their family on February 9, 1927.
Growing up in southeastern Tennessee, in the middle of Coffee County, Florence learned the values of hard work, perseverance, and family from a very early age. Florence also learned to ride horses as the family lived out in the country, and they were their means of transportation. The youngest of the Reynolds’ five children, Florence suffered the death of her mother when she was just six years old. While her father worked as a blacksmith and was the constable in town, Florence felt compelled to leave school after the 8th grade to help take care of the family.
Following her father’s death when Florence was just sixteen years old, she moved to Buchanan, Michigan, where her sister lived, and where she knew there would be more opportunity for a young woman. In time, she was blessed to meet her sister’s neighbor, Milford “Red” Belden. Instantly smitten, Red knew without a doubt that Florence was to be his bride. The two began dating and were soon planning a future together.
On January 5, 1951, Florence and Red exchanged their wedding vows and officially began their 60-year marriage. They came to be blessed with seven wonderful children. While Red provided for the family by working as an electrician, Florence ran the home. She ensured that Gary, Duane, Jack, Paul, Carl, Delores, and Denise were well cared for. She was a very protective mom who always made sure they were safe. In 1959, the Belden’s chose to settle in the small town of Vicksburg, Michigan. The little village suited Florence well as she never learned to drive or even ride a bicycle. Instead, she chose to walk to where she needed to go. Living in the village afforded her easy access to groceries, school supplies, and anything else the family might need. It didn’t take long for Florence and Red to become a part of the fabric of the community.
Florence relished in homemaking and was highly skilled in the kitchen. She liked to cook and bake and took great pleasure in making a satisfying meal for her large family. She made an art of lovingly creating big dinners that often centered around the foods she had so carefully canned and frozen. Her children even grew up knowing the warm comforts of coming home from school to a hot home-cooked lunch every day. Many fond memories were made together snapping green beans as a family, and no one will ever forget the famous snow cream she made each winter. Florence never hesitated to volunteer to make things for bake sales or for the kids while they were away at school, like cookies or her famous pies. Her homemade popcorn balls made her a neighborhood legend. Costumed kids would patiently wait in line year after year to get one of her special treats as a reward for their eager “trick or treat.” Ask anyone who was lucky to sit at her table or enjoy her baked goods, and they will be quick to tell you that it was clear Florence infused everything she made with love.
Florence and Red enjoyed spending time together and were rarely apart. Whether listening to the tunes of their youth, tending to their home, watching their children’s families grow, or watching a favorite show, life was best in one another’s good company. Unfortunately, as Red grew older, his health began to diminish. Though he was able to surmount the challenges that came with heart surgery in 1995, in 2009 Alzheimer’s started to take its toll. With signature grace and perseverance, Florence enveloped Red in her love and made sure that his every need was tended to. As a result of her beautiful, selfless care, Red died in the comforts of his beloved in their home in February of 2011. No stranger to deep loss, Florence rose to the challenges set before her. And, leaning into her faith, family, and friends, she began the work of learning to live in the absence of her adoring husband.
A humble woman who found the most joy in tending to those she loved, Florence easily held the day her son Gary returned home safely from Vietnam as the happiest of her life. She was a member of Fulton Christian Church, and over the years, she enjoyed playing Bunco with her lady friends taking turns hosting in each of their homes. She bowled in a local league and rarely passed up an opportunity to play Bingo. She enjoyed going to Firekeepers, where she played Bingo and delighted in the cheap senior breakfasts. Florence grew to enjoy road trips but never liked flying. She took wonderful trips to Mackinac Island and even stayed at the Grand Hotel when her son Gary took her there shortly after Red died. She loved to visit family back home in Tennessee and also enjoyed San Francisco. And though she didn’t want “everyone” to know it, she really enjoyed the casinos in Vegas.
The world is undoubtedly duller without Florence’s steadfast light. Though she will be dearly missed, Florence will be lovingly remembered. Whether it be gathering around a home-cooked feast, choosing to be honest and true, caring for others in their time of need, or enjoying a game of Bingo, Florence’s family will long feel the eternal spark of her legacy in their hearts and lives.
Florence died peacefully at home at the age of 92 on December 10, 2019. She was preceded in death by her husband, Milford; siblings: Nola Thomas, Allene Ferrell, George Reynolds, and Beverly Lloyd. Surviving are her children: Gary (Linda) Belden, Duane (Bonnie) Belden, Jack Belden, Paul (Pat) Belden, Carl Belden, Delores Germain, Denise (George) Esman; 18 grandchildren; several great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews. Services will be held at 11AM Saturday (DEC 14) at Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Dr., Kalamazoo, 269-375-2900 with visitation 1 hour prior. A luncheon will follow in the Life Story Center. Burial at Vicksburg Cemetery. Visit Florence’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. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Fulton Christian Church or Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan.