Where Food, Drinks & Stories Are Shared

Gayle Bakita

September 1, 1949 - October 26, 2019
Mattawan, MI



Sunday, November 3, 2019
3:00 PM to 5:00 PM EST
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
Kalamazoo Location
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
(269) 375-2900

The Rosary will be recited at 3 PM.

Driving Directions

Mass of Christian Burial

Monday, November 4, 2019
11:00 AM EST
St. John Bosco Catholic Church
23830 Front Street
Mattawan, MI 49071
(269) 668-3312


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.

Kalamazoo Humane Society
4239 South Westnedge
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
(269) 345-1181
Driving Directions
Web Site

St. John Bosco Catholic Church
23830 Front Street
Mattawan, MI 49071
(269) 668-3312

Gift of Life Transplant House
705 2nd Street SW
Rochester, MN 55902
(507) 288-7470
Web Site


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

Taylor's Florist and Gifts
215 E. Michigan Ave.
Paw Paw, MI 49079
(269) 657-6256
Driving Directions
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


Gayle Genevieve Bakita sought out the goodness in life. She lived to see projects and commitments to completion with a never-quit attitude. She was intelligent, patient, and non-judgmental. These qualities naturally helped make her a great teacher; however, she was so much more. Gayle was a caring wife, a loving mother, and a cherished grandmother and friend to many.

1949 proved to be an amazing year. It is impossible to think that there was ever a holiday season celebrated without "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer," but truly, its release happened this notable year. The Great Depression and WWII were behind us. Factories were producing their original intended goods, which meant that cars and televisions were in mass production. RCA figured out how to broadcast programming with color and families all over the country tuned in to watch "The Goldbergs." Friends and family were able to document memories on the spot with the first Polaroid Camera.

In early Autumn, Edward Gervais and Genevieve Sabourin were looking forward to new beginnings as well. On September 1, 1949, they celebrated the birth of their daughter, Gayle Genevieve. Gayle shared her childhood with her brother, Paul. Together, they created many memories full of laughter and joy. Their parents worked hard to make sure they lived comfortably. Gayle's father was an accomplished Naval aviator and later became a traffic engineer. Her mother stayed home to keep the home organized and happy. She prepared delectable meals and made her husband and children proud. One interesting fact is the family descended from the bloodlines of Jacques Cartier, the famed French explorer!

As a young girl, Gayle began exploring a life of her own discovering she had a talent for basketball and especially music. She took quickly to the piano, creating a good foundation of the fundamentals. Gayle also participated in the Lansing Junior Symphony where she played the French horn. A graduate of Monsignor O’Rafferty High School in Lansing, Gayle maintained a close relationship with many of her classmates throughout her life. It was also during this time that Gayle became close with a group of four other women, Cindy, Annie, Sylvia, and Diane. Together, they’d take in a movie or join each other for an evening of dinner and wine, often staying until the restaurants closed. This group continued to enjoy each other’s company even into recent years.

Gayle attended Western Michigan University minoring in music. Later, she earned her master’s degree in elementary education, graduating with the highest honors for both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Gayle's aunt, Evelyn Sabourin, was also a teacher and greatly influenced Gayle’s passion for the profession. Gayle began her teaching career in Ionia. From the beginning, she had a knack for maintaining control in the classroom, and her students liked her. Her approach was enthusiastic and deliberate, creating a classroom environment that was consistently interesting and engaging. In time, she moved to Mattawan Consolidated Schools. Her career spanned over 25 years. She celebrated an early retirement with the love and gratitude of her students and colleagues whom she greatly respected, including the lunch staff, particularly Marianne Dragicevich.

Though Gayle loved teaching, it was only a part of her otherwise very full life. Amidst the years of positively influencing many young lives, she also met the man with whom she spent 46 loving years. Gayle and Dan met at a Coral Gables dance hall in Lansing, Michigan. Dan made the first move when he asked their mutual friend for an introduction. His inquiry created a beautiful future because they ended up becoming a good pair. They celebrated their wedding in 1973, honeymooning in Cape Cod. Their memories of the place lasted a lifetime though they never returned as there were simply too many people there.

As Dan and Gayle settled into married life, they welcomed two children to make their family more complete. Edward and Sikiu Maria gave Gayle the chance to become a loving and nurturing mother. Gayle’s journey as a mother began in 1991 when she ventured to Venezuela. For three months, in a country where she did not speak the language, Gayle anxiously awaited the day Eddie’s adoption would be complete. Then, on Easter Sunday, she got the exciting news! She purchased a new outfit for Eddie and some hair dye for herself. However, the outfit, as it turns out, was for a little girl and the hair dye turned Gayle’s golden locks bright orange! Happily, in the years that followed, Sikiu would also join their family. All of this was made possible through a special friend, Fabiola D’Antonio, who Dan and Gayle had met, adopted two children of her own, and was able to assist them with their own adoptions. For the past 10 years, Gayle has also sponsored a little girl, Mirna in Guatemala, through the Unbound Organization. Her love forever unwavering.

As her children grew, Gayle always made sure they had plenty of fun activities to keep occupied. They went on day trips, planned vacations, and sometimes just played in the yard. She even taught them card games such as Blackjack, often playing for pennies. She was pretty good at the game and sometimes earned a free room at the casino even.

The family enjoyed many vacations together. One of their favorite trips was Atlanta, Michigan, where they traveled frequently to visit family. They also looked forward to camping up north - near Traverse City. Spring breaks offered the chance to head to warmer weather. They mostly found themselves in Florida visiting Busch Gardens and SeaWorld. Gayle loved to watch the animals and the amazing abilities they were able to learn to entertain the crowds.

Once their children matured to find adult lives of their own, Gayle and Dan had more time to spend together. Together they enjoyed the blessing of two beautiful grandchildren; Izayah and Alejandrina earned a special place in their grandmother's heart as soon as they entered the world. Also, in the early years of Gayle’s retirement, she’d often join with the “old farts” for a pickup game of golf at Oakland Hills. Later, at the Villages in Florida, she’d join John and Pat Bakita for par 3 golf.

In times when Gayle was not entertaining her grandchildren with impressive Donald Duck imitations (which her students also loved!), she found other activities to keep her busy. She was a member of St. John Bosco Catholic Church, where she was able to find peace and practice her faith. She was also a BIG fan of anything Spartan related. If Michigan State University was involved, no matter the sport, it would be on. She even had family tickets for football games. As the years progressed, they were able to creep closer and closer to the fifty-yard line. Eventually, they moved close enough to shake hands with many prominent people and could hear the coaches motivating their players.

Most recently, Gayle and her family went to Das Essenhaus. Together, they celebrated Gayle's 70th birthday. They made many memories, including a carriage ride and a round of mini-golf. It was a weekend affair that was enjoyed immensely by all. Even their dog, Snoopy, came along for the festivities.

Since 1991, Gayle had been receiving treatment from Dr. Glen Douglass and Dr. John Lawlor as well as the skilled staff members at Mayo Clinic. In 2003, she underwent a kidney transplant during which time she lived for three months at Gift of Life Transplant House at Mayo Clinic. There, she met many fellow transplant patients, many of whom were braving cutting edge surgeries. She learned their stories and bonded with them in a way unlike any other.

Sadly, Gayle passed away peacefully on October 26, 2019. We will miss her quick wit and compassion to listen. As we seek comfort in our sadness, remembering her determination will bring us some peace. She lived life fully and with a happy spirit for 70 years. She was a blessing in our lives, and we will hold the memories we shared close to our hearts.

Gayle was preceded in death by her parents and her brother, Paul Gervais. Surviving are her husband of 46 years, Dan; children: Edward Bakita and Sikiu Maria Bakita; grandchildren: Izayah and Alejandrina; her special Aunt Dorothy Peterson; and several nieces, nephews, and cousins. Cremation has taken place. Visit with family and friends from 3PM-5PM on Sunday (Nov. 3) at Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Dr., Kalamazoo, 269-375-2900 where the Rosary will be recited at 3PM. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11AM on Monday (Nov 4) at St. John Bosco Catholic Church, 23830 Front Street, Mattawan. Visit Gayle'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. Memorial contributions may be made to Kalamazoo Humane Society, St. John Bosco Catholic Church, or Gift of Life Transplant House.