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Sandra Smith

February 21, 1941 - April 22, 2020
Kalamazoo, MI



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.

Ecumenical Senior Center
702 N. Burdick St.
Kalamazoo, MI 49007
(269) 381-9750
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Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.

1830 S. Westnedge
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
(269) 349-4961
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Life Story / Obituary


Sandra Smith was a loving mother, grandmother, great-grandmother. She lived her life fully by extending herself selflessly to others. A faithful woman, Sandra often leaned on the teachings of Jesus to guide her throughout her life. Her genuine smile and warm personality will fondly be remembered by all who knew and loved her.

So much of our nation’s history was characterized by the year 1941. It was the year that marked the fateful attack by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor. Franklin D. Roosevelt was leading the United States into unprecedented times. Welcomed home by loving parents, on February 21st, her birth brought great joy and promise during an era of great change.

Born premature, Sandra showed her resilience to survive from the moment she arrived! The oldest of nine children, Sandra learned the value of pitching in around the family home at a young age. Her parents both worked outside the home. Her father was a custodian for Upjohn and later retired as a security guard. Her mother worked for the Gilmore family in domestic services. They taught her the value of never giving up and the importance of a strong work ethic to succeed at anything she set out to accomplish.

Sandra’s childhood was filled with many happy memories especially at Halloween where she was known to fill up an entire pillowcase of sweets, return home to grab another one to head back out for more! Her sister Barbara remembers when they were teenagers, they were able to spend time at a black resort called the “Red Rooster”. One time they went on a hay- ride. As the driver of the wagon was picking up speed and turned the corner too quickly, Sandra fell out of the wagon and hit her head. When her sisters went to check on her to see if she was injured, all she cared about was that her siblings not share the incident with their Mom, because she knew they wouldn’t be allowed to return. Studious as well as driven, even while being treated for eczema at U of M through most of her high school years, Sandra received her high school diploma! Sandra was close with her siblings and they were loyal to each other. She was always ready to provide financial assistance to anyone who needed it in a crisis.

Not to be forgotten was the meeting of the man of her dreams, Willie Riley Smith. Smitten from the start, the young couple joined in marriage when Sandra was the tender age of seventeen. Eager to start a family of their own, they welcomed home four wonderful children; Joi, Corey, Kirt, and LaShon. She and Willie both worked hard to support their growing family. She worked at Gibson Guitar in their early years and worked her from the press room to Metal assembly at General Motor’s Fisher Body where she remained for sixteen years. She cherished her role as a mother and instilled in her children the value of hard work as well as perseverance.

Sandra favored the holiday season and would go all out to ensure that her children believed in the magic of Christmas! Both Sandra and Willie would track Santa prints throughout their home leading to their gifts. One year the trail led to bikes for each of them! Sandra was well known throughout the neighborhood as a living angel often there for anyone in need. She and other moms supported one another often watching one another’s kids whenever needed. Lucky for her children, she was an animal lover and they always had cats or dogs around while they were growing up. She also had her naturally humorous side. The kids remember a time that she once got her car stuck in the water when she drove the car under a viaduct. From then on, she refused to go through a car wash! Her laugh was also infectious. Her sister-in-law Rita, remembers telling her jokes, just to hear her laugh, she thought of her more as a sister than a sister-in-law. Sandra was always there for her children and treasured the times they spent together.

In addition to her years as a loving mother and a hard laborer, she also had many special pastimes. Sandra was an excellent cook. Each and every time the family planned a get together there was sure to be plenty of food to go around! Her family loved her homemade dishes especially her potato salad, turkey dressing, pound cake, and fried corn. Sandra also had a real knack for gardening. When it came time for the fall season, she was all in for her Detroit Lions! Win or lose, she was a loyal fan for many years and enjoyed watching them every season with her extended family. A couple of highlights for Sandra were the cruises she took over the years. She loved to travel and see the sights as well as soak up the sun! She also enjoyed the simple pleasures of life; a cold Coke a Cola, adult coloring, and crocheting.

As much as she relished in her years as a mother, she was over the moon when she was blessed with grandchildren. She always wanted to make sure they had everything they needed from hugs to coats to even allowing them to come live with her over the years. She would do anything for her each and every one of them! Guided by her strong faith, Sandra was never one to hold a grudge or live her life with regrets. Her infectious laughter and her gentle ways will surely be missed. Sandra loved the verse; Romans 8:18 (KJV): “I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” May her memories be eternal and may her light burn brightly in the hearts of her many special friends and loved ones.

Sandra Lee (Scott) Smith, age 79, died April 22, 2020. She is survived by her children; Joi Ware, Corey Smith, Kirt Smith, LaShon (Kevin) Clopton; her grandchildren; Chanel Ashley, Marques Ware, Nadia Smith, Mario Smith, Iyana Smith, Korben Smith, Torie Taber, Antoine Allan Smith, Sherron Lee Smith, Sierra Smith, LaRais Clopton, Gabrielle Clopton, and Gavin Clopton; a host of great-grandchildren and siblings: Judith Elliot, Leonard Scott, Barbara Smith, Deborah Sims, Gregory Scott, and Craig Scott. She was preceded in death by her siblings: Sherry Lynn Smith and Terry Scott. The family would like to acknowledge her special friends: Irene Ryan, Gene Thurmond, Barbara Fields-Bonner and Margaret Matthews. A special thank you to the staff at Borgess Ascension, University of Michigan, Oakland Center and The Ecumenical Senior Center, the families from the Bible Baptist Church and Stones Church (formerly Christian Life Center) Dr. John Bradtke, Dr. Robert Shurmur, Dr. Hailer, Carmisa Miles CNA and Margaret B. CNA. Arrangements being made by Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900. A private burial will take place at Riverside Cemetery. Please visit Sandra’s personal web page at www.BetzlerLifeStory.com, where you can archive a favorite memory or photo and sign her online guestbook. Memorial contributions can be made to The Ecumenical Senior Center.