Where Food, Drinks & Stories Are Shared

Karen Maslanka

August 14, 1951 - April 8, 2021
Three Rivers, MI



Friday, April 16, 2021
3:00 PM EDT
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
Kalamazoo Location
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
(269) 375-2900

A reception with food and beverages will follow in the Life Story Center.

Driving Directions


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. Peter's Lutheran Church
PO Box 327
Three Rivers, MI 49093
(269) 278-8415
Web Site

Parkinson's Foundation
200 SE 1st Street, Ste 800
Miami, FL 33131
(800) 473-4636
Web Site


Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.

1830 S. Westnedge
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
(269) 349-4961
Driving Directions
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


Karen Maslanka was a very caring woman who modeled a lifetime of hard work and sincere compassion for others. Her family meant the world to her and there was never anything she wouldn’t do for them or anyone in need. A social butterfly, she loved hosting, entertaining, and making sure no one ever left her home feeling hungry! Karen’s genuine kindness, infectious laughter, and sincere friendship will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved her.

America prospered as the baby boom generation was born through the 1950s. Television was growing in popularity and families joined together in living rooms across the nation to watch hit shows like I Love Lucy and Leave It To Beaver. Rock N’ Roll got nation dancing and new products, including Super Glue, Mr. Potato Head, and the very first credit card began their journey to becoming household names. As this exciting decade was just getting started, proud parents Roland and Velma (Greczi) Nickert welcomed home their newborn daughter, Karen, on August 14, 1951, in Detroit, Michigan. Her birth brought great joy and much happiness to their family.

Karen’s life is woven around a story of family. Growing up in the Motor City, her parents both worked at General Motors Company. Born during a time where kids spent their days playing outside with the neighborhood kids until the streetlights came on, she had many special memories from her childhood. Close with her brother, she recalled a time when it rained so hard the streets flooded and her brother rescued her from their car that was stuck in the flood waters! She met the love of her life, Ray Maslanka, during her high school years while attending a New Year’s Eve party. Instantly smitten, they danced the night away!

Sharing many commonalities and a sense of adventure, Karen and Ray joined in marriage by the time they were both twenty-one, on September 9, 1972. They spent their honeymoon travelling the U.S., falling in love with one particular stop in the mountains of Colorado. As newlyweds, they settled in Sault Ste. Marie where Ray worked as an accountant and Karen worked in the banking industry processing mortgages. After a brief return to the Detroit area, Ray accepted a job in Three Rivers when General Motors opened a plant there. He and Karen started their family and together raised three wonderful sons: Scott, Douglas, and Daniel. She often joked that she triple majored in sewing as her schoolwork included several sewing classes! These skills were put to good use over the years making clothes and quilts for her kids among other things.

As a mother, Karen was a wonderful and nurturing role model to her sons. She was quite involved in their school events and activities and had perfected her method of getting grass stains out of the boys’ clothes as each of them were always on the go playing outdoors or active in sports. She cherished her years as a mother, challenging as it may have been keeping after her boys with their fair share of squabbles and mischief. A firm swat to their backside might have gotten them to stop, and if not there was always the frying pan! All in all, they were her pride and joy. She taught each of her boy’s valuable life skills, including good posture and the importance of appearance. She was even known to iron their underwear!

An avid baker, she loved making homemade treats and desserts. When her sons started dating Karen invited their girlfriends over to bake as a scheme to get to know them. Talkative and outgoing, Karen was always welcoming and accepting. Nothing brought her greater joy than to celebrate her sons’ college graduations. As they accepted their diplomas, she too felt a sense of accomplishment! Karen wanted nothing more than the very best for them and to share in their many successes.

Once her kids were off on their own, Karen pursued her own special interests. Never one to remain idle, she went back to school and graduated from Glen Oaks Community College with her associates degree. Social work became a perfect fit for her as she had a sincere interest in helping others. She leaned on her strong foundation of faith and friendships when her work became demanding. Active in her church, Karen attended many activities and events where she made lasting friendships with other members. Drawn to nature, she loved being outside. Her walks around the block were more like adventures, as they were truly a country mile. Bike riding and even yard work were also among her favorites. She had an appreciation for doing things the old-fashioned way, always raking leaves by hand rather than letting her boys bring over a leaf blower.

Karen never took a single day for granted. Whether it be her daily chores, attending church service, or spending time with her grandchildren, Karen soaked up the moment. Grateful any time she was around her family, she loved to fix their favorite treats and make Jell-O or cookies together! She simply loved to spoil her grandchildren with her generous heart. In turn, her grandchildren enjoyed grandma’s stories, playing games, and making special sticker books together. Karen felt incredibly blessed to have a family to love and was always delighted to spend any amount of time with each and every one of them. Devoted and dedicated to her faith and her family, there is no doubt that Karen’s beautiful example of living life to the fullest will leave a lasting impression on her many special friends and loved ones. May they always feel her warm presence and be guided by her unending wisdom all the days of their lives.

Karen Maslanka, age 69, of Three Rivers, Michigan, died on April 8, 2021. Karen was preceded in death by her husband, Raymond. Surviving are her children: Scott (Amy) Maslanka, Douglas (Janelle) Maslanka, and Daniel Maslanka; grandchildren: Ryan, Emily, and Forest; and her brother: Kenneth Nickert. Cremation has taken place. Services will be held 3 PM Friday, April 16, 2021 at Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo 269-375-2900. A reception with food and beverages will follow in the Life Story Center. Visit Karen’s personal webpage at www.BetzlerLifeStory.com where you may archive a favorite memory or photo, and sign her online guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to St. Peter’s Lutheran Church or Parkinson’s Foundation.