Life Story Visitation
Life Story Service
Monday, February 28, 2022
11:00 AM EST
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Burial will follow at Schoolcraft Township Cemetery, Vicksburg.
Life Story / Obituary
Sally Whelan was a heart-centered and eager student of life. Independent, creative, and resourceful, she met each day with gratitude and a commitment to continuous growth. She embodied her core beliefs, never hesitating to give of her gifts and unwavering support of those she loved. Sally knew the importance of balancing hard work with ample play and creativity. Her family was her life, and she embraced her roles as wife, mother, and grandmother with honor and passion. An inspiration and powerful role model for all who were blessed to know her, Sally will long be remembered and so very missed.
As the strains of the Great Depression began to ease in 1941, Americans' incomes grew, and their increased spending further fueled the economy. In the U.S., the optimism of leaving the Depression behind inspired the making of several classic movies, including "Gone With the Wind" and the "Great Dictator," while the invigorating sounds of Benny Goodman and Count Basie's Jazz filled our homes with hope. Newly invented Nylon stockings were all the rage with women, and FDR was elected for an unprecedented third term. Despite the ominous winds of change blowing in from Europe, the foundation of hope and generosity our nation had firmly rooted itself in as a result of the preceding decade's hardships could not be shaken. It was within this overwhelming feeling of fortitude, generosity, and hope that Clarence Burl and Beth Lenore Roberts Woods Jr. welcomed their daughter, Sally, to their family on February 19.
While working a summer job in Upjohn Company’s cafeteria, Sally had the good fortune of meeting her beloved, Jerry Whelan. The pair began dating and married just as Jerry was finishing up his college degree. In time, the couple was blessed to welcome children to their family. Kenneth, Kevin, and Marcie were the centers of her world, and she proudly dedicated herself to creating a loving and supportive home for them. With her faith as the foundation of her life, Sally guided her family by example. She met life's challenges and joys with gratitude, kindness, and the determination to use the gifts she'd been given to make the world a better place.
Sally never hesitated to be of service, sharing her wisdom and talents through scouting, Sunday school, and supporting her loved ones' endeavors. She was naturally a great teacher, not because she was trained to teach, but because she learned how to do a lot of things and would readily share her skills. A den mother for Cub Scouts and a volunteer with Girl Scouts, Sally made sure her kids grew through positive experiences.
With a creative eye, Sally enjoyed discovering and creating beauty. She enjoyed playing piano, and her children fondly remember listening to her singing to the music she practiced after they went to bed. She loved photography and documenting her family's history with many different camera setups over the years. She carefully dated and tagged many of her photos with the help of her kids. Knitting and crocheting were a particular talent of hers. She made sure everyone in the family had something made by her and participated with the Knitting Knockers, a charity group that made special handmade breast prostheses for women who have undergone mastectomies or other procedures. She also knitted hats for premature babies and made masks to protect against COVID when none were available anywhere else. Sally taught others how to break big projects into smaller pieces and tackle them in the right order, making the big project easier to complete. She met challenges with faith in their ability to thrive in spite of the difficulties. She possessed a great memory and could stretch a dime until it squeaked.
A keen observer of human nature, Sally constantly tried to figure out what made people tick. She was an expert at sorting out what had to be done in a crisis. Focused on the most immediate need, she confidently tended to things head-on and waited to fall apart until after all was fixed, asserting that "crying in the middle wasn't useful. You have to act." Whether taking her car to the mechanic after weeks of dealing with a dragging muffler… and Jerry's unfulfilled promises to fix it, shuttling her grandchildren to school and cheering on their endeavors, or independently taking care of herself after Jerry died, Sally consistently lived life to the fullest.
Children and family were always important to Sally. Before she was married, Sally wanted a baker's dozen of kids of her own. However, after her first child learned to talk, she changed her mind! While this changed her plans, it didn’t change her spirit. She enjoyed sharing Jerry's passion for flying and the many adventures they shared together. Once when Jerry laughed at her when she burned her hand, she tried to kick him but ended up splitting a chair open. While her kids were growing up, she and Jerry frequently pointed to the chair and told the kids, "don't ever laugh at your mom." Another time, as she was carefully plucking the feathers from a bird Jerry bagged while hunting, the furnace came on and blew the feathers all over the house! Despite her indomitable strength and loving care, Sally could also be counted on to be late for everything. Equally so, she could be counted on to attend basketball games, cub scouts and girl scouts, talent shows, campouts, plays, recitals, and any other special event. No matter what she faced, family came first.
Without a doubt, the world feels far less certain in the absence of Sally's steadfast faith and love. May we find much comfort in our many treasured memories and in the honor of carrying her legacy forward. In each moment that we freely give of ourselves in service of others, encourage our loved ones' authentic paths, welcome opportunities to learn and grow, and choose faith over fear, we celebrate the many ways Sally gifted our lives. In so doing, we keep her beautiful spirit alive and inspiring others as she so inspired us.
Sally Ann Whelan, age 81, of Springdale, AR, passed from this life Monday, February 21, 2022. She was preceded in death by her parents and husband, Jerry David Whelan. Survivors are her children: Kenneth (Tracy) Whelan, Kevin (Angie) Whelan, and Marcie (Robert) Latham; a brother, Thomas (Sharon) Woods; nine grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. A Life Story Funeral will be held Monday (FEB 28) at 11 AM at Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo, MI 49009, (269) 375-2900. Visitation will begin one hour prior. Burial at Schoolcraft Township Cemetery, Vicksburg. Please visit Sally's webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories, photos, and sign her guestbook.