Where Food, Drinks & Stories Are Shared

Pearl Pattison

January 29, 1921 - December 26, 2023
Kalamazoo, MI


Life Story Celebration

Saturday, June 1, 2024
4:00 PM to 6:00 PM EDT
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
Kalamazoo Location
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
(269) 375-2900

Where food, drinks, and stories will be shared.

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.

Doctors Without Borders USA
PO Box 5030
Hagerstown, MD 21741
(888) 392-0392
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

Taylor's Florist and Gifts
215 E. Michigan Ave.
Paw Paw, MI 49079
(269) 657-6256
Driving Directions
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


With a delightful smile and a welcoming heart, Pearl Pattison lived a life rich in family and friends. Pearl embraced each moment as a gift and every person as a friend. Joyful, passionate, generous, and kind, Pearl never shied from life’s challenges and always maintained an open heart. For over a century, Pearl modeled how to live a wholehearted life and stand up for what’s important. Cherished by many, Pearl will long be remembered and ever so missed.

With The Great War behind us, the 1920s gave birth to many firsts that helped pave the way for a decade of abundance and much celebration for our nation. The decade began with high hopes as The Great Steel Strike ended, and the US census proved that more Americans lived in urban rather than rural areas for the first time in history. With the inventions of the hairdryer, Qtips, and traffic lights, greater ease and comfort for many became the new normal. Hope grew exponentially with the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote, and millions of women worked white-collar jobs. While riding the post-war quiet and the nation’s feelings of high hope and good fortune, Richard and Grace Hathaway welcomed their daughter Pearl to their family on January 29, 1921, in Hastings, Michigan.

The second of five children, Pearl’s mother died when Pearl was just 21 years old. In the absence of their mother, Pearl became the caregiver for her brother Harold, who was special needs. She took on the responsibility with natural motherly instinct and a big heart, caring for him his entire life. With determination and grace, she also continued her education. After graduating from Hastings High School, where she played the violin in the school orchestra, Pearl attended Western Michigan Teachers College, now known as Western Michigan University.

Soon after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Pearl married John Duff in 1941. While he served the nation overseas during WWII, Pearl worked with her sister-in-law at Willow Run Bomber Plant in Detroit, building B-24 bombers, inspired by Rosie the Riveter. Two years later, Pearl chose to serve her country in a more direct way and joined the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) as a nurse. Pearl was proud to provide excellent care and deep comfort for many during her service.

Following her time in the Army, Pearl returned home and began working at National Water Lift in the machine shop. In her 40s, she became an office manager at Bronson Hospital. She retired after 15 years there, but soon discovered she missed the atmosphere and friendship of the office, so she went back to work for Upjohn Company.

Pearl and John spent 24 years together after the war. Despite the marriage ending in divorce, it blessed her with her heart’s delight, her two children, Mary and John. A naturally joyful person, Pearl was treasured by her extended family. She was affectionately known to her nieces and nephews as “Aunt Sunny.” Her many square-dancing friends knew her as “Jean,” and she was always “Gram” to her beloved grandchildren.

A woman who lived every moment to the fullest, Pearl remained open to love and companionship. She adored animals, especially birds and dogs. Bird watching was a favorite pastime, and Pearl could name every bird she saw in Michigan. She smiled with delight any time birds hopped in the birdbath outside her window and she made sure they had plenty of food. Pearl enjoyed bowling, golfing, and square dancing for many years. She square danced regularly with her husband and took lessons for new moves. An excellent seamstress, she also made her own square dancing outfits. Though she didn’t continue the violin, after retiring, Pearl taught herself to play the organ. She also learned to quilt, and loved raising flowers. Her abundantly beautiful rose bushes were a reflection of her gentle care and beautiful personality.

Passionate about environmental issues and politics, Pearl was committed to being well-informed. She read everything she could about different viewpoints, firmly believed in her own opinions, and enjoyed a good debate. She always knew who was running for office and was well-versed in all of their backgrounds. Pearl proudly volunteered on the election teams for several candidates whom she supported.

The loving matriarch of her family, Pearl’s greatest joy was her family. She ensured big get-togethers for every holiday and relished babysitting for her grandchildren, teaching them how to quilt, and supporting them in every possible way. Without a doubt, Pearl’s unwavering love, hope, and joy will be proudly carried forward by those she so dearly loved. Whether tending to our gardens, standing up for our values, cheering on others’ dreams, enjoying a margarita, or dancing our hearts out, we will ensure Pearl’s memory stays alive and continues to inspire others as she so inspired all of us.

Pearl Pattison of Kalamazoo, age 102, died on December 26, 2023. Preceding her in death are her daughter, Mary Barton; and siblings: Harold Hathaway, Carl Hathaway, Lyle Hathaway, and Ruth Murray; and her husbands. Surviving are her son, Mike (Barbara) Duff; grandchildren: Robert Barton, Stacey Dekema, Wade Whisler, Megan Whisler, and Kelsie (Joe) Lockwood; 9 great-grandchildren; 2 great-great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.

Please join us at a Life Story Celebration where food, drinks, and stories will be shared on Saturday, June 1, from 4-6 PM at Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo, 269-375-2900. Celebrate Pearl’s life online by sharing your favorite stories and photos on her dedicated webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com. Memorial donations may be made to Doctors without Borders.