Where Food, Drinks & Stories Are Shared

Marcella Voss Kelemen

March 31, 1933 - May 16, 2019
Kalamazoo, MI



Tuesday, May 28, 2019
5:00 PM to 7:00 PM EDT
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
Kalamazoo Location
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
(269) 375-2900

The rosary will be recited at 7 PM.

Driving Directions

Mass of Christian Burial

Wednesday, May 29, 2019
10:00 AM EDT
St Augustine Cathedral
542 West Michigan Avenue
Kalamazoo, MI 49007
(269) 345-5147

Burial will take place at a later date.

Web Site


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.

519 South Park Street
Kalamazoo, MI 49007
(269) 383-0444
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


Caring, inquisitive, and adventurous, Marcella Kelemen lived a life rich in family, friends, and service to others. An insatiable learner, Marcella welcomed each day as a gift and an opportunity to continue to grow. The lady in red instantly brightened every room she entered and lightened every heart she came to know. Her greatest joy was her family. A devoted wife, loving mother, and cherished grandmother and friend, Marcella loved nothing more than sharing and celebrating her loved ones’ successes. Endeared by many, Marcella will long be remembered by those she loved.

Despite the obvious gloom of the Great Depression she was born into, the power of hope undulated in the hearts of many who raised her. With a natural drive to not just endure but thrive in the face of uncertainty, the nation continued to put one foot in front of the other to build a better future. Nowhere was there more hope than in the home of George and Mercedes (Lind) Voss as they welcomed their first-born, Marcella, into their lives.

Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, Marcella grew up with strong family values, including a love of the arts and an appreciation for hard work. Marcella’s father owned his own painting and decorating business, and her mother was a homemaker. Growing up as the oldest in the family, Marcella watched over her younger siblings: Eugene, Dolores, Marian, Leona, John, and Robert.

Rain or shine, Marcella walked seven blocks to school every day, which only added to her innate sense of drive and perseverance. A natural performer, Marcella was drawn to dance and theater. While she enjoyed tennis and bowling, dancing was her passion, and she often joked that she had even danced on a ping pong table in high school. She longed to be a professional dancer and loved performing in her high school plays. She spent as much time as she could at the local theatre seeing the latest movies and dreaming of a future entertaining others the way stars of the times entertained her. Never one to shy away from a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, she had the chutzpah to pretend to be a reporter with the high school paper to get an actual interview with Dean Martin over the phone. When she learned he was performing at a nearby hotel, she called the hotel, and they actually put her through to his phone. Without hesitation, Marcella masterfully asked him her questions, wrote up her article, proudly submitted it, and relished in seeing it published.

After graduating from St. John’s High School in St. Louis with the class of 1951, Marcella belonged to The Little Theatre in St. Louis where she acted in plays and musicals. While working for Warner Brothers in St. Louis, she met her husband, Joe, at a dance. The first time Joe called her for a date, Marcella was unable to take his call because she had taken her two little brothers to the movies. Her mother told him she was not at home. When Marcella returned home, she was sorry she missed Joe’s call and said to her mother, “You didn’t tell him I went to the movies with my brothers. He’ll think I have nothing to do on a Friday night.” But later Joe said, “I thought she must be a nice person to take her little brothers to the movies. So I called back, and a relationship began.”

The greatest day of Marcella’s life was her marriage to Joseph November 26, 1955, at St. John the Baptist Church. In time the couple was blessed to welcome children into their family. Julie, Vincent, and Kurt were the center of their world, and Marcella thrived in motherhood. She possessed a wonderful sense of humor and understood the value of play. Nothing pleased her more than her children’s laughter, which she often inspired with limericks, jokes, and showing off her latest dance moves. She shared her love of theatre with them and enjoyed watching her daughter play with her tap shoes. She was exceptionally proud of her kids and their accomplishments and rarely hesitated to brag about them.

A gourmet cook, Marcella liked to try new things from other countries and passed this joy on to her family. She learned to make old world style apple and cherry strudels, a challenging but tasty dish. Her Easter lamb was divine, and her oxtail and barley soup unrivaled. Many a guest was lovingly served ethnically diverse delectables that Marcella expertly cooked for them.

Always up for an adventure, Marcella and Joseph lived in Ibadan, Nigeria, with their children for two years. During their time in Nigeria, Joseph taught at The Technical College on assignment from Western Michigan University on a contract from the State Department to train teachers. Marcella taught art at the School for the Young Deaf and volunteered at Maryhill Catholic Mission School. She also learned to ride horseback through a local club started by the British that offered riding as well as other recreational activities.

After returning to Kalamazoo, they concentrated on raising their family. Over the years, the set made many trips to Europe touring and visiting Joseph’s relatives in Austria. Joe and Marcella, and, at times, the kids traveled extensively in west Africa, the Canary Islands, Portugal, Germany, Spain, Ireland, England, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Italy, France, and Hungary. Marcella especially enjoyed their time in Austria and Germany because she was fluent in German, and her favorite city was Vienna. She thrilled at visiting the places she’d seen in the movies particularly Salzburg from “The Sound of Music” and witnessing first hand Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, and his statue of David.

A lifelong learner, she was always willing and eager to try to new things. She graduated from Western Michigan University in April 1984 with a degree in German. To practice her German, she joined a German Club. The club had a potluck once a year, and they always requested her lentil soup. Though her love was classical music, she once enthusiastically brought home the first and hottest new album by Led Zeppelin. She also loved a good game of bridge with parishioners from St. Joseph Church and WMU.

Raised Catholic, Marcella’s faith was the cornerstone of her life. She found a deep love for serving the church and was employed by the Catholic Diocese of Kalamazoo where she worked in the Chancery as assistant director of The Marriage and Family Ministry Office until she retired in 2001. She and Joseph belonged to The Usher Corps of St. Augustine Cathedral for 33 years, and she was a member of the National Association Of Catholic Family Life Ministers. Marcella maintained a special devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help; when life challenges came up, she would pray a novena.

Marcella was quick to volunteer time and talents in the broader community. She was a member of the Kalamazoo Association of Volunteer Administrators (KAVA) and active in University Dames of WMU. She was the First Vice President of the Faculty Women’s Club at St. Louis University, and she volunteered with Senior Services of Kalamazoo, performing with the Peer Prevention Players. Driven by her concern for others, Marcella chose to use her gifts to lighten others’ loads and ensure a sincere sense of connection.

For those who knew her, it was clear Marcella’s greatest joy was her family, which included not only her children and grandchildren but also her treasured Old English sheepdogs. She first fell in love with a runt, and her love only grew from that moment. The dogs were honorary ambassadors of the neighborhood, and Marcella made many friends while walking them. She loved tending to their needs and so appreciated their companionship. Whether snuggling up with a canine companion, cooking a wondrous meal, traveling to visit out of town children, or entertaining guests and celebrating important events, Marcella embraced every moment. In doing so, she proved a powerful role model for how to live a full and heart-centered life for all blessed to know her.

It is difficult to imagine life in the absence of Marcella’s bright spirit. May it provide deep comfort to know that with each moment we dance with abandon, gather with our loved ones to share a carefully prepared meal, play the castanets, say “Yes” to something new, or share a hearty laugh, we keep the light of Marcella’s spirit burning brightly and we inspire others as she so inspired us.

Marcella Kelemen, age 86, died May 16, 2019. Marcella was born March 31, 1933, in St. Louis, MO to George and Mercedes (Lind) Voss. She was married to Joseph A. Kelemen on November 26, 1955, in St. Louis, MO who survives. Also surviving are their children: Julie Kelemen of Kalamazoo, MI; Vincent (Raeann Hammond) Kelemen of Portage, MI; Kurt (Rory Talamini) Kelemen of Dover, DE; five siblings, Eugene, John and Robert Voss; Dolores Urban and Leona Ellebracht, all of St. Louis, MO; and five grandchildren. Marcella was the sister of the late Marian Konersmann.

Cremation has taken place. Visit with family and friends from 5-7 PM on Tuesday (May 28) at Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Dr., Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900, where the rosary will be prayed at 7 PM. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 AM Wednesday (May 29) at St. Augustine Cathedral, 542 W. Michigan Ave. Burial will take place at a later date at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, St. Louis, MO. Visit Marcella’s personal webpage at www.BetzlerLifeStory.com where you may read her Life Story, archive a favorite memory, or sign her online guestbook. Memorial donations may be directed to KPEP.