Life Story Visitation
Thursday, December 22, 2022
4:00 PM to 7:00 PM EST
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
A scripture service and time of sharing will begin at 7 PM.
Mass of Christian Burial
Friday, December 23, 2022
11:00 AM EST
St. Monica Catholic Church
4408 S. Westnedge Ave.
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
Burial will follow at Mt. Olivet Cemetery.
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.
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
501 St. Jude Place
Memphis, TN 38105
Catholic Charities - Diocese of Kalamazoo
1819 Gull Rd
Kalamazoo, MI 49048
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
1830 S. Westnedge
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
Schafer's Flowers Inc.
3274 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
Life Story / Obituary
Vibrant, fun, and generous, Judy Emery lived a life rich in family and friends. Judy loved to talk and tell stories and was the consummate hostess. She had a gift for making people feel special, and her kind heart, love of a good time, and loud, contagious laugh inspired joy for all. Happiest when surrounded by those she loved, Judy went out of her way to ensure others felt their worth. Though our days with her were far too few, every moment we shared with Judy was a gift that will long live in the hearts of those she so dearly loved. A devoted wife, mother, sister, and friend, Judy will forever be remembered and so very missed.
The early 60s proved a time of much excitement. While cars continued to evolve as more compacts appeared and sold well, Alan Shepard manned the country's first space flight. Popular music included Chubby Checker's "Pony Time" and "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" by the Shirelles, while "West Side Story" and "The Parent Trap" dominated the movie theaters. Nowhere was there more excitement than in the lives of Joseph and Ann (Coleman) LeMay, as they welcomed their daughter Judy to their family on January 19, 1962, in Trenton, New Jersey.
Growing up in Detroit, Michigan, Judy's early years were filled with activity. While her mom worked at Michigan Bell, her dad was a truck driver. Happiest when on the move and extremely competitive, Judy played high school sports. She was naturally athletic and very good at basketball and softball. She was also good at skipping school, often using the excuse of attending a funeral. Her mischief didn't end there. Once she locked her high school teacher in the classroom claiming she couldn’t hear him say “open the door.” She also convinced a cab driver to run into a store to pick up drinks. While the driver was in the store, she drove the cab around the block…all in good fun of course!
As a ninth grader at St. Mary’s of Redford High School, Judy met the young man who would one day be her husband, Chris Emery. The pair began dating during their sophomore year when Chris asked her out while they were supposedly sitting under a bush at a graduation party. "Under the bush" quickly became a legendary family joke that Judy never corrected.
Judy and Chris married and their nicknames for each other were created; Bun & Bunny. Quickly, their nicknames for each other notoriously evolved to “Bun.” Over time, they were blessed to welcome four children to their family. Ryan, Samantha, Jacqueline, and Madeline, quickly became the centers of Judy's world and her heart's delight. While she mostly worked as a housewife, she was known to dabble from time to time in many side jobs and get rich quick schemes; if she had an idea, she'd run with it, at least for a little while.
Judy relished motherhood, working hard to ensure her kids had everything they needed. She hung on to her competitive spirit and never let them win without a fight, and never missed any of their special events. Regardless of distance, time, or weather, she was in the stands, cheering them on.
Judy loved hosting and entertaining people. Her door was always open for her nieces, nephews, and children of her closest friends to come and enjoy the lake. Never one to plan anything halfway, she'd spend oodles of time tending to every detail, making sure it was just perfect. A fantastic cook, she'd be in the kitchen all day, making many dishes from scratch without a recipe. Having learned the art of creating a fabulous meal from her mother, she eventually shared the memorized recipes with her son and daughters. She never shined more than during the holidays. Planning, prepping, and hosting Christmas for her kids was a joy she celebrated throughout the entire year. It was impossible to give enough and Judy never stopped buying presents. Their home was so magically and beautifully decorated, it should've been featured in a magazine. Judy carefully planned games and festivities for her guests, including "Let's Make a Deal" Christmas style. Family members arrived dressed in various zany outfits, and Judy had prizes, including classic zonks, ready to go for the game!
Always up for an adventure, Judy drove to Florida with her family every year. When the kids were older, she went to Panama City Beach on their recommendation, not realizing it was a college party town. Another great trip was to St. Louis, Missouri. Exploring the Gateway Arch and taking a helicopter tour were just a few highlights of the trip. Judy particularly liked going to warmer places, and over the past few years, she and Chris rented a condo on Clearwater Beach. There, she found her bliss; sitting by the water all day, people-watching, and relaxing in the sun with a Miller 64 in her hand. Judy also enjoyed playing cards, especially poker, euchre, and swoop. She knew how to stack the deck for euchre but never taught her family how, claiming she "couldn't remember."
Though Judy had a thick skin and always had the last word in an argument, she was quite sensitive and shared her extremely giving personality. Her gift for gab meant she could talk with anyone, often making friends with people she sat with on airplanes, in the stands at a game, or connecting with Chris' customers. She was keenly aware of how others struggled and always looked for ways to lighten their loads. Once, she drove around New York City, and every time the car stopped, she asked people on the sidewalk for a dollar or two. A modern-day Robin Hood, she collected a tiny sum and gave it all to someone in need. It's no wonder everyone loved her.
Clearly, the world feels less certain in the absence of Judy's steadfast love and companionship. May we find much comfort in our many treasured memories and in the honor of carrying her beautiful legacy forward. In each moment, we cheer on our loved ones' endeavors, say "yes!" to adventure, enjoy having our feet in the sand, buy the perfect gift, gather those we cherish close, and share in boisterous laughter, we celebrate the many ways Judy gifted our lives. In this way, we keep her spirit alive and inspiring others as she so inspired each of us.
Judith Emery of Kalamazoo, age 60, died on December 19, 2022. Judy was preceded in death by her parents; stepfather, George Helton; and her nephew, Nathan Tafelsky. Surviving are her husband, Chris; children: Ryan (Kellie) Emery, Samantha (Daniel Jr.) Ostas, Jacqueline Emery, and Madeline Emery; siblings: Michael LeMay, Kathleen (Kenneth) Horka, Mary Jo (Robert) Tafelsky, and Linda (Thomas) Kelly; and nieces and nephews: Zachary Tafelsky, Matthew Horka, Jillian Horka, Henry Kelly, Katherine Kelly, Elizabeth Kelly, and Rachel LeMay.
Please join us at a Life Story Visitation on Thursday (DEC 22) from 4-7 PM at Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo, 269-375-2900. A scripture service and time of sharing will begin at 7 PM. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated 11 AM Friday (DEC 23) at St. Monica Church, 4408 S. Westnedge Ave., Kalamazoo. Burial at Mt. Olivet Cemetery. Visit Judy's webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories and photos and sign her guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to Catholic Charities – Diocese of Kalamazoo or St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.