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Life Story / Obituary
Funny, fair, and loving, Jacquelyn Dirst lived a life rich in family and friends. She led with her heart, welcoming everyone as best friends and inspiring a lot of laughter. She greeted each day with hope and gratitude and devoted herself to the care of others. In Jackie’s good company, hardships were instantly lessened, and joys were always magnified. A devoted wife, mother, grandmother, and friend, Jackie was a powerful role model for how to live a wholehearted life. Cherished by those she so dearly loved, she will long be remembered and so very missed.
1946 found people around the world expecting a better life than before the war years and the Great Depression. As the Baby Boomer years began, American prosperity grew like no time in our history, and hope sprang eternal. The United Nations and UNICEF were created, the BBC returned to the airways, the first programmable electronic computer was unveiled, and Tupperware was first introduced to U.S. consumers. Nowhere was there more hope for the future than in the home of Bill and Hattie (Ott) Lindemann, as they welcomed their daughter Jackie to their family on May 16, in St. Joseph, Michigan.
Jackie grew up in Bridgman, Michigan, in a house her parents built. She attended Bridgman High School, graduated in a class of just 50, and later began dating one of her classmates, Jerome Dirst. With their hearts set on building a future together, Jackie and Jerome married in 1968. In time, they bought the home Jackie grew up in and made it their own, adding on until they ran out of property! Jerome was a golfer, so Jackie took up the sport too. After learning and practicing the game with some lady friends, she and Jerome joined a couples league.
Jackie and Jerome were blessed to become parents, welcoming two children to their family. Melissa and Jim were the centers of their world, and Jackie dedicated herself to creating a loving and supportive home for them. Jerome worked for Hermel Die Casting for 30 years. He then drove trailers all over the U.S., but he made it a priority to make it home for the weekends. They enjoyed camping and had a trailer they’d use at a seasonal lot in Bloomingdale. Jackie worked as a teller at a savings and loan bank when she was just out of high school before starting a long career at Cook Nuclear Plant. She worked for the plant’s security team for 25 years before retiring.
A wonderful mother, Jackie enjoyed sharing her interests with her kids and encouraging their dreams. She and her daughter shared a love of reading and spent hours and hours hanging out at the beach, reading in the warm summer sun. One of Jackie’s most treasured memories was when she gifted her daughter with her favorite book, Gone With The Wind. She and her son both found a passion for Legos later in their lives. She collected over a hundred sets, including some enormous projects like the Millennium Falcon that took weeks to assemble. Many of the projects are proudly displayed throughout the home.
Always up for an adventure, Jackie often took her young kids and their cousins to the movie theater on Tuesday’s when tickets were cheaper. Raiders of the Lost Ark was one of the very first they saw. They enjoyed it so much that they saw it a dozen more times that summer! This started a weekly tradition of going to the movies that continued for many years. While traveling, she always found interesting things to investigate that took them off the intended routes. Some of their detours took them to places like Mount Rushmore and Graceland, which became a favorite destination. Her kids also guilted her into keeping a baby kitten they rescued. After that, Jackie adored cats and, over the years, welcomed several into her home.
As her family grew, Jackie was delighted to become a grandmother. She doted on her grandkids and did all she could to ensure their well-being and happiness. There was nothing she wouldn’t do for them. Spending time with her family was her greatest joy. Whether enjoying a ride on the pontoon, playing Yahtzee, or listening to her favorite music, every moment together was a gift Jackie treasured.
Jackie loved music, especially the songs recorded by her favorite artists like The Beatles and Elvis. She had a terrific collection of 45 records and introduced her son to older Beatles hits. In turn, Jim introduced her to the more recent songs that weren’t on her records. Her love of music took her to Graceland twice, several concerts, and many Beatles conventions in Chicago. After she introduced “Yellow Submarine” to her granddaughter, her granddaughter let it play on a loop over and over and over, much to Jackie’s delight (until enough was enough).
An inspiration to all who were blessed to know her, Jackie showed each of us how to live life to the fullest. No matter how challenging life could be, she always chose love, grace, and generosity. In her heart, others were clear they were cared for and enough just the way they were. May our many wonderful memories help soften our missing, as may the honor of carrying her beautiful legacy forward. In each moment we greet others with a warm smile, sing our favorite songs, relish time at the beach or on the water, or curl up with a good book, movie, or loved one, we celebrate all the ways Jackie gifted our lives. In this way, we keep her spirit alive and inspiring others as she so inspired each of us.
Jacquelyn Dirst, of Kalamazoo, age 76, died on April 17, 2023. Jackie was born May 16, 1946, in St. Joseph, MI, to Bill and Hattie (Ott) Lindemann, who precede her in death, along with her brother Jim. Surviving are her husband, Jerome; children: Melissa (Howard) Witherspoon and Jim Dirst; grandchildren: Kyle, Kali, and Santiago. Private services will be held. Visit Jackie’s webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories and photos and sign her guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to SPCA of Southwest Michigan. Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo 269-375-2900.