Monday, February 11, 2008
2:00 PM EST
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
followed by food and fellowship in the Life Story Center.
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
For Gayle Smith, family was the greatest source of happiness in her life. With her great capacity for love, she led her loved ones by example in matters of compassion and generosity, always putting their needs ahead of her own. She was patient, caring and generous with her time; she never thought twice about going out of her way to help someone who needed her. Gayle was truly a ray of sunshine for those close enough to receive the gift of her warmth.
Though the Great Depression hit many families hard during the 1930s, Clarence and Cora (Smith) Burson of Kalamazoo, Michigan were blessed with many gifts. Among them was their daughter, Gayle, who was born on January 31, 1932. The youngest of five Burson children, Gayle grew up under the watchful eye of her older siblings: Harold, Helen, Shirley and Ethel. The family made their home in Kalamazoo, where Clarence earned a living working at Upjohn’s, like most of his family did. Gayle received her education in the Kalamazoo Public Schools and graduated from Kalamazoo Central High in 1950.
In 1945, a wonderful thing happened to Gayle – she met the love of her life, Marvin Smith, at a dance; in fact, she asked him to teach her how to dance. Marvin was two years ahead of her in school and went on to graduate in 1948. In the meantime, however, they became high school sweethearts, and were married on December 26, 1950, shortly after Gayle graduated. Unfortunately, the newlyweds only had two days together before Marvin returned to his duty as a solider in the Army and shipped out for combat in Korea.
Meanwhile, back home, Gayle continued on her family’s tradition and went to work at Upjohn’s in the Quality Control Department for the next ten years. Then, in 1960, Gayle and Marvin were overjoyed to adopt a baby boy they named Gregory Scott. Heartbreakingly, little Gregory died just shy of his first birthday from spinal meningitis. In 1961, the couple opened their hearts again to a baby girl they adopted and named Michelle. She was later joined by a brother, Eric, in 1964. Gayle was a caring and attentive mother who took an active role in every phase of her children’s lives. She attended all their school activities and was their #1 fan at every sporting event. In later years, Gayle poured the same amount of love into her relationship with her grandchildren, and became their #1 fan and supporter in all their endeavors.
After her children arrived, Gayle left her job at Upjohn’s to work as a dental assistant for Dr. Vector in Kalamazoo, a job which allowed her more time to be home with her children. She eventually went back to Upjohn’s in 1972, as an Inspector in Quality Control, and remained there until her retirement in 1990. After her husband Marvin retired, the couple began going south to the seaside resort of Gulf Shores, Alabama to escape the harsh Michigan winters for 9 years. By this time, Gayle and Marvin were living on Little Paw Paw Lake in Mattawan, Michigan, and they enjoyed all the activities in and around the water, including fishing, swimming and boating.
Gayle’s happiest moments always involved the time she spent with her family. The holidays were her favorite times of the year when she was surrounded by the love and smiles of her children and grandchildren. Though Gayle enjoyed any time she could spend with her loved ones. Whenever her grandkids were over, they loved to play games, especially solitary and cards, and Gayle always had a sweet treat for them, usually ice cream cones, though she also made delicious pies and cookies too. Being the youngest among her siblings, Gayle was often favored by her nieces and nephews. In fact, she had her hair done by her niece, Carol Roberts, every 2 to 3 weeks on the dot. In her quieter moments, Gayle liked to put her brain to work figuring out a crossword puzzle or two.
Gayle Smith loved to be surrounded by her family, and enjoyed spending her time being a wife, mother and grandmother to the people who brought her life extraordinary joy. Gayle filled a room with her warmth and love and left a lasting impression on everyone she met. She will be dearly missed and frequently remembered.
Gayle N. Smith died on Wednesday, February 6, 2008, in Kalamazoo, MI. Learn more about Gayle, view her life story film, and visit with her family and friends on Monday, February 11, from 1 p.m. until the time of her service at 2 p.m. at the Life Story Funeral Home, Betzler, in Kalamazoo (375-2900). Food and fellowship will be shared after the service. Burial will take place in Schoolcraft Cemetery. Gayle was preceded in death by her infant son, Gregory Scott Smith, and four siblings: Harold Burson, Helen Bussema, Shirley Taylor and Ethel Staple. Surviving members of her family include her husband of 58 years, Marvin Smith; two children: Michelle (Mike) Barkovich of Lawton, and Eric (Krysten) Smith of Dexter; four grandchildren: Eric, Brendyn, Mikaela and Derick; and many nieces and nephews. Please visit Gayle’s memory page at www.lifestorynet.com where you may share a memory or photo with her family or sign her online guest book. Memorial contributions may be made to a charity of one’s choice.