Life Story Visitation
Monday, June 19, 2023
5:00 PM to 8:00 PM EDT
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Where food, drinks, and stories will be shared.
Life Story 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 a welcoming heart, infectious smile, and love of laughter, Jeanette Strasser lived a life rich in family and friends. Jeanette was happy and optimistic, witty and fun, and always honest and kind. She welcomed each day as a gift and every person as a friend. Genuinely interested in others, Jeanette listened with compassion and unwavering belief in the goodness of people. In so doing, she proved a safe harbor for many. Whether a person spent a minute or a lifetime in her company, their life was better for having shared her companionship. A devoted mother, grandmother, and friend to all, Jeanette was cherished by many. Without a doubt, her bright and beautiful spirit will long be remembered and so very missed.
Despite the obvious gloom of the growing conflict in Europe, 1939 held much to celebrate, including the end of the Great Depression, the premieres of the classic film Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz, regular television began to broadcast nationwide, and The World's Fair in New York. As the US actively armed up for war, families continued to center their lives on love and hope for a brighter future. Nowhere was that hope more evident than in the home of Vernon and Letha (Merrill) Johnston as they welcomed their daughter Jeanette to their family on May 1 in Lawrence, Michigan. The family doctor accompanied newborn Jeanette to the family home and asked, “Is a little girl welcome in this home?" Her brothers welcomed her with open arms.
Jeanette lived in the West Bangor Community her entire life. Along with her older brothers, Dick and Don, and her younger sister, Joanne, Jeanette grew up in a home rich in family values. Her parents were farmers and worked at a factory in South Haven. Her childhood passions included being a member of 4-H and spending time on the family farm. She and her sister shared a close bond and enjoyed riding horses together. They confidently rode the draft horses while working in the field, though not without incident; a few bones were broken but the girls didn’t let that dampen their spirits. Jeanette attended Wood School, a one-room schoolhouse, through the eighth grade and graduated from Bangor High School in 1956.
As an adult, Jeanette's focus was her family. She was a caring mother of her combined family of twelve children. Persevering and resourceful, Jeanette met the challenges of a large family with grace and gratitude. She worked full-time while helping raising them and ensured their good care, teaching them to be honest and confident, especially in the face of hardship. Having learned to cook from her mother, she was well-known for her meatloaf, baked beans, and potato salad; she and her sister Joanne frequently debated over whose potato salad was better. She enjoyed family camping trips when the kids were young and always ensured their safety while swimming and enjoying the Michigan dunes.
Jeanette was deeply committed to her community. In addition to tending to her busy family, for many years, she participated in the West Bangor Community Club, where she helped put on a Halloween party for neighborhood kids, weddings, and social events. She also served on the school board of Wood School for 19 years. Early in her career, she worked in the accounting departments of various local factories before beginning her 35 years working at convenience stores in both the South Haven and Bangor communities as both a clerk and manager. After making many friends and acquaintances throughout her many years of service, Jeanette retired at the age of 67.
Family was Jeanette's greatest joy, and she cherished the birth of each of her grandchildren. She loved babies; even with twelve of her own, she couldn't get enough. She was thrilled to be a grandma and loved spending time with her grandkids and great-grandkids. She spoiled each of them, and they cherished her. After retiring, her favorite pastime was visiting family all over the county.
Easily content with simple pleasures, Jeanette enjoyed playing the piano and country music, especially Floyd Cramer's classic songs. She loved going on cruises and traveled the Panama Canal, around Baja, California, and the Caribbean. Playing Yahtzee was another favorite. She played with ladies in her neighborhood and was very competitive. She didn't let anyone win. Sometimes, her daughter would sit in the middle of the table, and the ladies would continue to play around her. The Detroit Tigers were her team; she never missed watching them play and cheering them on. And food was her passion. Jeanette loved to go out to eat, and when she wasn't up to venturing out, her grandkids often called and brought her carry out.
Everyone who had the pleasure of knowing Jeanette loved her because of her honesty and kindness. Her kids' friends from high school still bring her flowers, and her final weeks were spent in her daughter’s home in the care of the Caring Circle Hospice, surrounded by her closest family and friends. Never losing her grace or good humor, she always had something funny to say. She poked fun with the nurses and doctors, inspiring many smiles in her final days. Jeanette loved her parents, and at her death she was ready to see them again.
Clearly, the world feels less certain in the absence of Jeanette's steadfast love and hope. May we find comfort in our many treasured memories and in the honor of carrying her beautiful legacy forward. An inspiration to all who were blessed to know her, Jeanette showed us at every turn how to live from the heart, remain hopeful, serve others, and be grateful. In each moment we cheer on our loved one's endeavors, serve others, explore the day with curiosity, relish a good meal, or play a fun game, we celebrate the many ways Jeanette gifted our lives. In this way, we keep her spirit alive and inspiring others as she so inspired each of us.
Jeanette Elaine Strasser went home to be with her Lord and Savior on June 13, 2023, at the age of 84, in South Haven, Michigan. Jeanette is survived by her two brothers, Dick Johnston and Don (Nancy) Johnston; her 12 children: Karen Mileham, Karl (Sharon) Pifer, Richard Pifer, Rex (Lucy) Strasser, Rick (Dawn) Strasser, Brenda (Doug) Strasser, Sandy (David) Karr, Mike (Sandy) Strasser, Phyllis (Russ) Welsh, Sharon (Greg) Peterson, Kelli (Mark) Ford, and Tammy Cochran; 29 grandchildren; 31 great-grandchildren; and several great-great-grandchildren; as well as many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents, Vernon and Letha Johnston; and her sister Joanne Derhammer.
Join us for a Life Story Visitation Monday, June 19 from 5-8 PM, at Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900, where food, drinks, and stories will be shared. A Life Story Service will be held Tuesday, June 20 at 11 AM, also at the funeral home. She will be laid to rest at Arlington Hill Cemetery in Bangor next to her parents. A luncheon will be held at 1:30 PM after the burial at Simpson United Methodist Church, 507 Joy Street, Bangor. Visit Jeanette's webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories and photos or sign her guestbook.