A lunch will be served in the Life Story Center immediately following the service.
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
With grace and generosity, Fonda P. Warwick lived a heart-centered life, rich in family and friends. A woman who cherished her loved ones with all her heart, Fonda treasured nothing more than time with them. Naturally persevering and resourceful, Fonda embodied her belief that we are always capable of thriving regardless of life’s challenges. Fonda possessed an unwavering faith in goodness and welcomed every person and each day as a gift. She humbly offered her time and talents in the service of others and always reflected the good she easily saw in them . Throughout her entire life, Fonda committed herself to the good care of others, always offering a safe place for folks to simply be. A devoted sister, wife, mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, teacher, and friend, Fonda’s legacy of love and service will long live in the lives of all who were blessed to know her.
Despite the obvious gloom of the Great Depression, 1934 gave birth to many celebrated firsts. Flash Gordon made his debut while Fuji Photo Film first captured memories. The Three Stooges took center stage in their first short while the nation also met Donald Duck. The rays of hope peeked through the clouds of despair in America when unemployment decreased to 22% marking the turning point in the Great Depression. Nowhere was there a greater sense of hope than in Moundsville, West Virginia, as Thomas and Phyllis (Gatts) Paith welcomed their daughter Fonda into their family on June 24.
Born during the Great Depression, Fonda was the oldest child who quickly learned the importance of family unity and the necessity of grit. As work was hard to come by, her father would often have to leave home to find work. While in the third grade, her family traveled to Oklahoma, where her dad worked on construction of a new pipeline. The family lived in a work camp, where she was not allowed to attend public schools. Abundantly clear at this young age that education was the key to a future that would ensure her and her siblings more possibilities and, ultimately, security, Fonda took it upon herself to help teach her younger siblings.
At the age of eight, when her mother became ill, Fonda became her brothers’ primary caregiver. When her father was drafted into WWII the family moved back to Moundsville. Upon his safe return from the war, the family opened Paith’s Grocery. They lived in an apartment above the store for many years. Paith’s Grocery proved another powerful influence in Fonda’s life, forming the firm foundation of essential values upon which she consciously built the rest of her life.
Fonda was the first in her family to graduate from high school. And though she longed to attend college, she could not afford to do so. With a passion for taking control of her future, Fonda joined the workforce taking a job at Columbia-Southern Chemical Corporation, near New Martinsville, West Virginia. A highly skilled typist, she was quickly placed in the secretarial pool. In little time, Fonda caught the attention of one of her co-workers, William Warwick. William was struck by Fonda and was sure that she would be a perfect match for his son, Bill, who was in the military at the time. While William planned to introduce them to one another when Bill was discharged from his service, his other son Al began working for the company and chose to take destiny into his own hands by asking Fonda out on a date. She wasn’t instantly smitten with Al, but he was persistent, and it was six months before she agreed to the date. On their second date, Al proposed and after a year of dating, the couple married on June 10, 1956, in Moundsville, West Virginia.
The newlyweds first settled in Blacksburg, Virginia, where Al finished his engineering degree at Virginia Tech. They started their lives together in a small apartment under a garage, where they began learning and growing together. Two years later, Fonda and Al were blessed to begin their family with the birth of their first child, James. Three more sons followed; Phillip in 1960, David in 1961, and Douglas in 1966. Fonda was delighted by the gift of motherhood and devoted herself to creating a loving and supportive home for her family. After moving around the country and living for a time in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Nebraska the family finally planted their roots in Jackson, Michigan.
While tending to her family and home, and with Al’s enthusiastic support, Fonda decided it was also time to fulfill her dream to go to college and become a teacher. She enrolled at West Virginia University, and after moving to Kentucky continued her studies at Brescia College. Never missing a beat, she ensured that she was home when her boys returned from school with dinner in the works. Family dinners were a must and often proved the time and place for valuable life lessons. It was around the table where the boys learned by example good manners and important life skills. While Al took it upon himself to model how a good man treats a good woman, Fonda taught the boys how to cook, the importance of education, and the call to use one’s gifts in the service of others. She afforded her boys chores which helped them develop fine work ethics and the knowledge that their contributions were important and necessary. The boys dearly loved and respected their mother and were motivated to obey her wishes for fear of disappointing her.
The family enjoyed many adventures together. With Al in the lead and Fonda at his side, the family traveled the country and explored the outdoors near and far. They pulled a camper with their 1973 Dodge Polara station wagon and drove across the Midwest. Once, while out west, as they watched people floating down a river in an inflatable raft, a new family passion was born. In time, they shared epic rafting trips down the Colorado, Green, Snake, and Flathead Rivers out west and the New River and Gauley River in West Virginia. Whether hiking, rafting, skiing, fishing, or conquering their goals and dreams, Fonda was there with the family. Their capstone trip was in 1999 when they drove the 1973 Dodge station wagon with camper in tow, to Alaska for a 6-week adventure.
It was a proud day for the entire family when Fonda graduated from college with her bachelors degree in education and officially embarked on her career in teaching. Fonda poured herself into her vocation, teaching all the young people in her care with love, patience, empathy, and faith in their capacity to succeed. Shortly after graduating with her bachelor’s degree in education, she returned to school to earn a master’s in Education. After teaching for several years, she went back to school to obtain a specialization in special education from Eastern Michigan University. She taught emotionally impaired students for many years in Jackson, Michigan where she retired. It is no surprise for those who knew her that she was well-liked by students and parents alike. Though her career was filled with abundant accomplishments, Fonda never required accolades or the limelight. With signature humility, Fonda found her contentment in the privilege of witnessing her students’ accomplishments.
Fonda was talented in many ways. Her sewing, quilting, and cooking were always infused with her love. Each stitch and spice were evident of her care and devotion. The family loved her apple and cherry pies, and her piping hot corn spoon served with butter proved legendary. For those who knew her best, it was obvious that her greatest talent was creating deep connections with people. Wherever she went, she inspired a sense of home. Never one to complain or ask for help, Fonda even faced the challenges of Parkinson’s disease with strength and grace. After Al suffered a stroke in 2015, the couple moved to Kalamazoo to be closer to family. With her friendly, genuine demeanor, Fonda quickly made many new friends. Sadly, Fonda had to say goodbye to her beloved Al in July of 2019. Though she missed her companion deeply, Fonda continued to embrace each moment, proving a powerful role model for all.
Clearly, it is difficult to imagine life in the absence of Fonda’s steadfast, loving presence. May we find comfort in knowing that she, Al and James (Jim) have been reunited and in the honor of carrying her powerful legacy forward. With each challenge we confidently face, loved one’s dream we cheer on, meal we gather around the table to share, and adventure we take, we celebrate the many ways Fonda gifted our lives. In this way, we keep her spirit alive and inspiring others as she so inspired us.
Fonda Lea (Paith) Warwick, age 86, died peacefully in Kalamazoo on Thursday, May 27, 2021, in the comforts of her family. Proudly carrying her legacy forward are her children: Phil (Barb) Warwick, David (Mary Jo) Warwick, and Douglas Warwick; daughter-in-law Judith Dittman; grandchildren: Matt, Alex, Amber, Courtney, Elizabeth, Katherine, Sarah, Gordon, Leah, Nathan, Joshua, Kayla, and Tristan; great-grandchildren: Cayden, Seton, AnnaLea, Kolbe, and Anastasia; 2 brothers: Kenneth (Katie) Paith and Don (Greta) Paith; and many nieces and nephews. Besides her husband, Al, she was preceded in death by her son, James, in 2020.
A funeral service will be held at 11a.m. on Tuesday, June 1, at Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Dr., Kalamazoo, (269) 375-2900. The family will receive friends one hour prior to the service and during the luncheon to follow in the Life Story Center. Burial will take place at Riverside Cemetery. Visit Fonda’s personal webpage at www.BetzlerLifeStory.com, where you may archive a favorite memory or photo and sign her online guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to Parkinson’s Foundation.