Life Story Visitation
Wednesday, October 6, 2021
5:00 PM to 7:00 PM EDT
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Please join us for a Life Story Visitation where food, drinks, and stories will be shared. A special toast and song will be shared at 7 PM.
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.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Sandy Lawrence was a gentle, kind, and humble spirit. Guided by her strong compassion for others, she lived her life as a devoted educator and counselor touching the hearts and minds of countless students during her remarkable career. She will forever be known for her genuine friendship and loyal heart. Sandy’s gentle wisdom and her legacy of graciousness will live on forever in the hearts of all who knew and loved her.
Her story begins in the 1930s, a time when there wasn’t much that was not affected by the Great Depression. Despite these tough times there was great cause for excitement. The inventions of Scotch tape, FM Radio, and Polaroid photography began their climb to popularity. Hollywood icons like Katharine Hepburn and Clark Gable entertained us on the silver screen and the tunes of Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby were sung across the nation. Closer to home, on July 10, 1935 in the small town of Battle Creek, Michigan, Clark and Helen (Tanas) Lang celebrated the arrival of their newborn daughter, Sandra. Born the only child, her birth brought much hope and happiness during a difficult time in history.
Growing up in the country, Sandy lived a childhood filled with many special memories. Her heart knew no bounds for nurturing animals and she always had horses, cats, and dogs. She was especially fond of cats and German Shepherds throughout her entire life. As a young girl living through WWII, Sandy recalled visiting Fort Custer and watching from the fence line as the German POWs were marched through the camp; a memory she never forgot.
Sandy was studious as well as ambitious. When most women were choosing careers in nursing, she set off for Western Michigan University to pursue her dream of becoming a teacher. She loved her years in education and later obtained her masters degree, also from WMU, while working and attending night school. She was well respected by her colleagues and was a tremendous asset to her students. Never one to remain idle, Sandy often worked multiple jobs, especially during the summers while school was not in session. Talented in her skills as a teacher, school administrator, and counselor, her career touched the lives of many students who leaned on her for her guidance and support.
Not to be forgotten was the meeting of her husband, Edwin. They were introduced by family members and immediately felt a connection. He was in the Army ROTC at Western Michigan University while she was a student there. After they were married, Edwin became an Army Captain and paratrooper moving them to the southern states when the racial divide in the country was escalating. Sandy and Edwin were an open and accepting couple, though they soon learned many of their neighbors were not which made it difficult to acclimate to their new community.
Sadly their daughter, Kathleen, died at the tender age of eight years old. They were both devastated and did their best to move on; however, their marriage ended early in divorce. With a strong desire to have a fresh start, Sandy moved with her other two children, Shelley and Peter, back to Kalamazoo where began working towards her masters degree. Her kids were her top priority and there simply wasn’t anything that she wouldn’t do for them. She was very involved in their lives and never missed their special moments, concerts, or sporting events, even when her schooling and career kept her busy. Sandy instilled in them the value of an education, the importance of family, and treating others with kindness.
Sandy was fond of her Irish heritage and took her kids as well as her grandkids to visit the countryside when they were older. Every visit to her ancestor’s homeland came with a story. One time she and Peter rented a cheap rental car. Not knowing where they were going, they found themselves caught in the middle of a road race with rally cars zipping past and nowhere to pull over! She loved the experiences travelling brought, especially staying at bed and breakfasts or quaint little inns that were off the beaten path. They found they would often get lost driving the rolling hills and bumpy roads, but each time they found an interesting castle or extraordinary views they would have missed had they not been lost in the first place! Wherever she went, Sandy was sure to bring her camera and loved taking pictures of the Irish doors and windows!
A wonderful hostess, Sandy loved bringing family together and there was always plenty of wine to enjoy! It was no surprise that Christmas was very special to her as she loved to spoil her kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids! Everyone was made to feel special and Sandy’s heart was full. She was an avid reader and particularly enjoyed mystery novels. She even attended the mystery writers convention in Toronto. As a faithful alumni and proud WMU Bronco, Sandy held season tickets for many years, supporting both the football and women’s basketball teams. She shared her passion for photography with the teams, often gifting them photos during their senior year.
Independent, loving, and generous, Sandy lived her life surrounded by her family and countless special friends. Her wonderful collection of memories will surely endure in their hearts forever. May she and those she loved be blessed forevermore by the Irish blessing, “May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face and, until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.”
Sandra Lawrence of Kalamazoo, age 86, died on October 1, 2021. Sandy was preceded in death by her daughter, Kathleen Lawrence; and daughter-in-law, Karen Lawrence. Surviving are her children: Shelley (William) Long and Peter Lawrence; grandchildren: Jill (Casey) Reimer, Katie Long, Craig (Jessica) Long, Natalie Lawrence, and Nathan Lawrence; and great-grandchildren: Liam, Mason, Emma, Silas, and Jordy.
Cremation has taken place. Please join us at a Life Story Visitation where food, drinks, and stories will be shared on Wednesday, October 6, 2021, from 5-7 PM at Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo 269-375-2900. Visit Sandy’s webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories, photos, and sign her guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to Kzoo Cat Cafe and Rescue.