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Life Story / Obituary
Patient, loving, and kind, Judy Lawson lived a life rich in faith, family, and friends. An eternal optimist, Judy possessed an unwavering belief in the goodness of others. She welcomed both life’s joys and struggles equally, embracing each and every moment as a gift. Her heart was the warmest place anyone could know and she often offered others safe harbor from life’s storms. With a sense of adventure and an infectious smile, Judy proved a powerful role model for all who were blessed to know her. Cherished by many, Judy’s legacy will continue to burn brightly in the lives of those she loved.
1946 was a year marked by much celebration and hope. With the victorious end of World War II, families tuned into the celebratory tunes of Bing Crosby, Perry Como, and the Andrews Sisters. At the same time, children delighted in the debut of the slinky. While the nation indulged in a renewed sense of peace and newfound hope, even greater promise for the future was celebrated by Ed and Tess Boynton as they welcomed their daughter, Judy, to their family on October 11, 1946, in Battle Creek, Michigan.
The youngest of the four Boynton kids, Judy grew up with three older brothers in Climax, Michigan. Growing up with a bunch of brothers inspired many lively stories Judy told throughout her lifetime. Though entertaining, her brothers never confirmed nor denied the adventures and antics Judy described in detail.
From a very young age, Judy learned how to work for what she wanted. Her father, who worked as a bookkeeper, and her mother, a registered nurse, both modeled strong work ethics. Once, while visiting a local farm with her father, she asked if she could take one of the barn kittens home. Her dad knew that her mother would not be too happy about a kitten and told Judy she could only have one if she could catch it all by herself. With great determination, Judy soon caught her feline friend and her father was smoothing things out with her mother. Judy loved animals and enjoyed riding horses as a young person. She also enjoyed golf and traveling. After graduating from high school, she celebrated by taking a whirlwind trip to New York.
Judy eventually met Robert Graving. The pair set their eyes on sharing the future and Judy converted to Catholicism in South Bend, Indiana. After marrying, the couple were blessed to welcome three children into their family. Bobby, Becky, and Brad were the centers of her world and Judy dedicated herself to their care. She built their family life on the firm foundation of her faith and unconditional love. Though they lived in North Muskegon and South Bend for a time, she primarily raised her children in Kalamazoo.
While her children were young, Judy was a stay at home mom. She delighted in having a daughter, planning to dress her in bonnets and frills. When she couldn’t find them in the stores she made them herself! Ironically, Becky proved to be a tomboy at heart. Blessed with creativity and artistic abilities, Judy enjoyed having her children make holiday decorations. She taught her children to be kind, independent, generous, and willing to make compromises. She shared her love of animals and the outdoors by taking them horseback riding and camping. They also enjoyed an epic trip to Florida’s Disney World. Judy was very generous and supported all of her children’s endeavors. She also volunteered with the youth in the church. Her children grew up with specially made Christmas stockings that always held a special chocolate Santa on Christmas morning.
In 1989, while socializing with a singles group, Judy had the good fortune of meeting Ken Lawson, the love of Judy’s life. Judy and Ken instantly hit it off and started dating. Judy blossomed in the relationship and when she and the kids accidentally ran into him at the local Wendy’s, it was evident that their relationship was special. On February 29, 1992, the happy couple celebrated their love by marrying on leap day.
Judy and Ken’s marriage was rooted in much love and joy. Judy glowed with happiness during this time in her life. The couple enjoyed traveling and spending time with their loved ones. Their many adventures included annual trips to the Upper Peninsula and Longboat Key, Florida as well as trips to Costa Rica, Hawaii, and Spain. Judy loved the many trips and great memories made while camping and canoeing in the UP, and exploring the outdoors wherever they traveled. In addition, Judy and Ken loved to visit the kids and grandkids as often as possible. Many trips were made in Michigan and to Iowa, Texas, and Arizona to spend time with the grandkids. Judy’s greatest joy was holding each newborn grandchild for the first time. The grandchildren treasured their time with her as she was a favorite playmate. Just five weeks ago the couple traveled to Arizona, where she spent time with her newest grandbaby, Lindy, and also rafted through the Grand Canyon. Recently, she also played baseball with her grandson, Theodore, patiently teaching him how to aim the ball.
Judy was remembered fondly by everyone she met. Her niece, Katy, especially remembers the many ways Judy made her feel special, including sharing her good company and always listening like she was the most interesting person in the world. Judy taught through example that every person is valuable and, if we look hard enough, we can find their goodness. Judy’s great sense of humor often inspired laughter and she had a special knack for knowing what people wanted. A card giver, Judy carefully selected and sent just the right cards at just the right times. She found stamps that reflected the receiver’s interests and even made a tradition of mailing Ken a birthday card from the dog! Whether studying the Bible and collecting inspirational quotes on the porch or filling her home with pictures of her children and grandchildren, Judy consciously grew her relationships with God and those she loved.
Clearly, the world feels dim in the absence of Judy’s bright and beautiful light. May we find comfort in knowing that she is free of her discomforts and we carry the best of her legacy forward. With each encouraging card we send, laugh we inspire, kind listening we afford, and gold we recognize in another, we celebrate the many ways Judy gifted our lives. In this way, we keep her spirit alive and rippling out into a world that so needs her kindness and faith.
Judy Lawson, of Texas Township, age 74, died of complications from pneumonia at Bronson Hospital surrounded by family on October 26, 2020. Surviving are her husband, Ken Lawson; children: Bobby (Kristen) Graving, Becky Ely, and Brad (Melissa) Graving; grandchildren: Emma, Logan, Theodore, Adam, Daisy, and Lindy; siblings: Norm Boynton, Jim (Betty) Boynton, and Larry Boynton; and many in-laws, nieces, and nephews who she cared for deeply.
Visit Judy’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 Gift of Life of Michigan or the American Diabetes Association. Arrangements by Betzler & Thompson Life Story Funeral Home, 60900 M40 Hwy, Paw Paw (269) 657-3870.