Life Story Service
Saturday, November 12, 2022
1:00 PM EST
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
A reception will follow in the Life Story Center where food, drinks, and stories can be shared.
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.
353 East Michigan
Kalamazoo, MI 49007
Trauma Recovery Associates
1608 Lake Street
Kalamazoo, MI 49001
Please note that it is a gift in memory of Rosalie Novara.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Rosalie (Amman) Novara was a true Renaissance woman. Her impressive academic and professional careers represent only a fraction of the passion and curiosity with which she approached life.
Born in Detroit on March 19, 1944, she was the second of Albert and Leona Amman’s four children. The family grew up in a small home in Ferndale, where Rosalie often escaped to the library or on day-long bike adventures with her older brother Chuck. Amman family aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends lived on farms in the Flint area, and she spent many happy days running around the fields with her cousins. As she grew up and read more and more, she began to question the rules and morals of the 1950’s social structure. She graduated at the top of her high school class and insisted on broadening her horizons by attending college with her scholarships.
After attending Western Michigan University, she received a Fulbright fellowship to study English Literature at the University of Sussex in England. When she completed her masters, she decided to teach English at a girl’s academy in Ethiopia for two years rather than returning to the United States. Despite family concerns, she bravely ventured out alone anyway.
While she excelled in academia, Rosalie’s true calling was helping people. She began her career in earnest at the Welfare Department and mentoring young women in the Cass Corridor of Detroit. This experience fueled her drive to make a difference in people’s lives.
Around this time she met a dashing yet soulful ex-priest named Joe. He had a quick wit and a giant, exuberant Italian family. She adored him. They married, had their first daughter, Meagan, moved from Detroit to the Upper Peninsula to Kalamazoo, and began her second master’s degree in social work.
Daughters Marisa and Lucia joined the team and Rosalie and Joe both worked hard to make ends meet for their family. After years in community mental health, Rosalie became Executive Director at MRC Industries, where she would go on to help thousands of people with developmental disabilities find work and purpose in the community.
She had the intelligence and work ethic to do anything she chose, and she chose to live modestly while making other people’s lives better. She was one of the first female executive directors in the region, was a role model for many younger women to excel in the workplace, and took her daughters to their first protests to protect women’s reproductive rights. Her curiosity drove her to study multiple languages, become a Master Gardener, begin a third dedication as a Language Tutor in the Kalamazoo Public Schools, and cultivate a truly voluminous and amazing garden at her home. Her passion for exploring the world took her on many international adventures. From visiting her daughters in Italy, Spain, and Australia, to South African safaris, to riding chicken buses in Guatemala as a retiree, she never got tired of planning new journeys.
Rosalie was a tireless advocate and leader in her community. She served on numerous boards, was very politically active, and mentored many young women in Kalamazoo. She received a Special Award from the state of Michigan for her tireless dedication to her community. At 78 years old, she was still volunteering as a literacy tutor with Communities In Schools at King-Westwood elementary school.
Between her professional circles, the Garden Club, Kiwanis, different boards, mentoring and tutoring, and her children’s friends, there weren’t many people in Kalamazoo she didn’t know. One group was so special to her and Joe that it was referred to simply as “The Group”. This motley crew of intellectuals met regularly to have deep philosophical discussions and to one-up each other with who could bring the most incredible appetizer. All of the individuals that she touched benefitted from her intelligence, patience, dedication, and thoughtfulness.
Anyone who came to Rosalie and Joe’s house was warmed by her hospitality. When Rosalie asked someone how they were, whether it was a 5 year old or a state senator, she listened to their response with her total attention. Everyone was welcome in her home and no one left hungry. She was an imaginative and skilled cook with the absolute best secret recipe salad dressing. She loved good food and was not discriminating when offered wine. Her bone-dry sense of humor would surprise you out of nowhere, and she liked to use it to scare unworthy boys away from her daughters.
Rosalie was very proud of and involved with her seven grandsons and lone granddaughter. From staying up all night with a new mom, to helping with college essays, she was there every step of the way to support her children as parents and her grandchildren as individuals. Her understanding of childhood development, her empathy, and her wisdom made her a very beloved grandmother.
Rosalie passed away from cancer on November 1, 2022. She is survived by her husband, Joe, and three daughters: Meagan (husband Tom), Marisa (husband Ted), and Lucia (husband Craig), and their children, TJ, Jesse and Nathaniel Dennis, Nico and Mateo Christians, and Rocco, Giada and Enzo Harcek. She is preceded in death by her brothers Larry Amman and Ray Amman. She is also survived by her brother Chuck Amman, her mentees Mary Lewis-Nichols and Mingnonia Lewis, and many loving nieces and nephews.
Her legacy lives on through her family, the community she served and the many kinds of love she shared generously.
A Celebration of Life Service will be held at Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Dr., Kalamazoo, MI 49009, on Saturday, November 12, 2022 at 1:00 PM. A reception will follow in the Life Story Center where food, drinks, and stories can be shared.
Please visit Rosalie’s personal memory page at betzlerfuneralhome.com to share a memory, favorite photo, or to sign her guestbook. Memorial donations may be made in her name to the YWCA or Trauma Recovery Associates.