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Life Story / Obituary
Lois Johnson Groesbeck was born in Detroit on November 1, 1927, and died peacefully in her sleep, May 11, 2021, the night after Mother’s Day.
Her father, Elmer Johnson, supported his family as a union pipefitter during the Great Depression. Her mother, Walborg Johnson, née Erickson, kept house, and her younger brother, Don, who passed away in 2018, completed the family.
Lois earned her A.B. in Economics from the University of Michigan. While taking a German language class she met a returned veteran of World War II, Byron Groesbeck. They wed in 1950, then moved first to Washington, D.C. and then Boulder, Colorado, following career leads that ultimately brought them back to Ann Arbor. They raised their two sons, Rolf and Rob, in the Burns Park neighborhood where she continued to reside until 2018. Lois loved her home in Ann Arbor, filled with books, artwork from all over the world, and pictures of her children and grandchildren, but health issues eventually required her to move to Vicinia Gardens in Otsego, MI to be closer to family.
Lois returned to the University of Michigan, finishing her A.M.L.S. degree in 1971 and joining the Population Studies Center, where she worked full-time as their librarian for over 20 years. She enjoyed coffee breaks with her co-workers who were also dear friends, acted as a part-time secretary to Center Director Ron Friedman, and edited the dissertations of many international students.
After Byron and Lois divorced in 1983, Lois took many international trips, to Great Britain, Ireland, Turkey, Sicily, and even India, where Rolf was studying Hindu temple drumming. Her travelling companion for many of these trips was her long-time friend Nelly Ullman. She also kept in close touch with old friends from Pop Studies, her dear friend Noreen Greeno, and her cousins Kay Suares and Jo Bowser.
Lois was a voracious reader, who enjoyed everything from biographies of politicians to murder mysteries. She followed current events avidly, staying-up-to-date and opinionated (with a decidedly left-leaning stance) on issues in politics until the very end of her life. She never missed an episode of the MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour on PBS and she read the New York Times every Sunday. She was always careful with her money, but still had an appreciation for the finer things and loved to treat family to a nice meal for the holidays, during which she would always order a glass of chardonnay. A lifelong learner, she always supported her family’s education and enjoyed hearing about her grandson Thomas’ doctoral research ideas. Though wheelchair-bound and on oxygen, she attended the wedding of her granddaughter, Kate, in 2019, and danced at the reception.
Lois leaves behind her two sons: Dr. Rolf Groesbeck of Little Rock, AR, and Robert Groesbeck (Patricia Jorgenson) of Kalamazoo, MI. She also leaves her beloved grandchildren, Thomas Groesbeck (fiancée, Dr. Wenwen Ni) of Sunnyvale, CA, and Katherine Barton (Samuel) of Austin, TX. “My proudest achievement has been to have raised two wonderful sons, and although I can’t take any credit, I’ve been happy and proud to have Pat and Katie and Tom in my family. You’re all my greatest treasures.”
The family would like to thank the staff of both Vicinia Gardens Assisted Living of Otsego, MI, and Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan, who provided Lois with skillful, compassionate, loving care over the past few years. Lois got her wish of “attending” the U of M one final time: her body has been donated to the Medical School there. Memorial donations may be made to Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan, the ACLU, or the Democratic candidate of your choice. A celebration of her life will be held this summer in Ann Arbor.
Please visit Lois’ webpage at www.BetzlerLifeStory.com where you are encouraged to archive a favorite memory or photo and sign her online guestbook. Arrangements by Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900.