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Santa "Sandy" Cates

November 7, 1932 - September 29, 2021
Paw Paw, MI



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


Santa “Sandy” Cates of Paw Paw, age 88, died on September 29, 2021. Santa was born November 7, 1932 in Chicago, IL to Samuel and Jennie (Milazzo) Verona. True to her proud Italian heritage, Sandy enjoyed entertaining and especially cooking for family. She taught her children and grandchildren all of her traditional recipes and certainly loved her favorite Italian cookies. She never passed up a chance at the sweet treat. She read every day, including her Bible, and often stayed up well into the night to finish a good book. Together with her husband, Chester, Sandy enjoyed camping with family and telling stories around the campfire. After their children were grown, the couple sold their home and bought a Class A Motorhome, travelling the country and seeing all it has to offer. Chester spent many years aboard ships in the Navy so they often ventured to Naval Reunions to catch up with old shipmates. Quite possibly the best day of her life though was meeting her great-great-grandchildren. Family was most important to Sandy and always made her smile.

Santa was preceded in death by her husband, Chester; grandson, Michael Hayes; and her sister, Charlene Higgins. Surviving are her children: Alan (Maryjane) Cates, Rev. John (Susan) Cates, and Nora (Jim) Hayes; 4 grandchildren: Jennie (Patrick) Hayes-Kinney, Sarah (Gage) Brobst, Teresa Cates, and Kimberly (Daniel) Fraley; 10 great-grandchildren: Brittany, Tyler, Wyatt, Trey, Dustin, Colby, Payton, Rosalie, Orin, and Jackson; and 5 great-great-grandchildren; sister, Marilyn Downie.

Cremation has taken place. A memorial service will be held at a later date. Visit Sandy’s webpage at www.BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories, photos, and sign his guestbook. Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo 269-375-2900.