Reception following Funeral Service
Monday, May 7, 2018
12:00 PM EDT
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Following the service, friends and family can visit while sharing food and drinks at a reception in the Life Story Center.
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.
Charity of Choice
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Throughout her life, there was no greater gift to Mary Bongers than the love she shared with her family. She was a lifelong resident of the community she loved, and with a warm, gracious, and kindhearted personality she was well loved by many. Mary took her roles as a wife and mother to heart, but she just might have argued that nothing was better than becoming a grandmother and great-grandmother later in life. Although she will be deeply missed, Mary leaves behind a colorful mosaic of memories that her loved ones will forever cherish.
Life during the 1930s was anything but easy as the entire decade was cloaked in the hardship of the Great Depression. Jobs were scarce, the unemployment rate soared, and things only went from bad to worse when a drought covered our nation’s heartland for nearly two years during this time. Despite the trials around them, Norbert and Margaret (O'Connell) Hotop were able to shift their focus to an exciting time in their lives as they announced the birth of the baby girl they named Mary on January 6, 1934, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Raised in the family home on Edgemoor Avenue in Kalamazoo, she was one of four children as she was joined in her family by her siblings, Nancy, Margaret, and John.
In many ways, Mary was a young girl of her generation. Her father owned Hotop Plumbing & Heating Company while her mother had more than enough to keep her busy at home. As a student, Mary attended Parkwood School from kindergarten through fifth grade, and she later went on to St. Augustine High School and served as senior class secretary, After graduating from high school in 1952, Mary went on to Michigan State where she was a member of Alpha Chi Omega sorority and for many years after as well. She received her B.S. degree in 1956. Mary absolutely loved being a teacher.
New and exciting changes were in store for Mary when she met the young man of her dreams. His name was Henry “Hank” Bongers, and they dated for a time. Since Hank told Mary that he would only propose once, she eagerly accepted his proposal. The sweethearts were married in St. Augustine Cathedral on August 18,1956 , marking the beginning of a new chapter in a love story that would span for more than 61 years. Together Mary and Hank welcomed two sons, Thomas and Andrew, into their hearts and home. She took great pride in being a wife and mother, and her favorite moments were spent with her family. Later in life, Mary was thrilled to become a grandmother as she spent as much time as she could with her grandchildren. More recently, they added great-grandchildren into the family, and Mary couldn’t have been happier. Some of their most memorable moments as a family were spent at their property on Scott Lake. Mary and her husband purchased the property in 1972, and it had a small cottage on it. They vacationed as a family there for years, but in time they tore down the cottage to build their home on the property to make a permanent residence on the lake. In addition to sharing countless family moments there, they also made some amazing friends while living on the lake.
Over the years, Mary was one to keep busy. She loved being a teacher and was an avid reader who truly appreciated books. Mary was a good tennis player who enjoyed the opportunity to volunteer at the National 16 and 18 year old tennis tournament at Stowe Stadium for years. She was an above average bowler for many years, she enjoyed playing golf at the Kalamazoo Country Club with her father, and she was also good at playing Bridge.
With a journey that spanned times of great change in the world around her, Mary Bongers lived a life of purpose while holding her loved ones near. She maintained an active lifestyle and was an active part of her community. Steady and dependable, Mary’s family was her greatest treasure, and she was happiest when surrounded by their love. Life will never be the same without her here, but she leaves behind a timeless legacy that her loved ones will proudly carry on in her footsteps.
Mary Bongers, of Bangor, passed away May 1, 2018. Mary’s family includes her husband, Henry “Hank;” two sons, Thomas (Sheryl) and Andrew; grandchildren, Arryn, Josh, Henry, Joseph, John; four great-grandchildren, Nathan, Leah, Connor, Daniel; sister, Margaret. Mary was preceded in death by her brother, John, and her sister, Nancy Hotop Rieger.