Saturday, April 9, 2022
1:00 PM EDT
614 Homer Rd
Marshall, MI 49068
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
Although she experienced so many things throughout her rich and rewarding life, there was nothing that was more near and dear to the heart of Susan Kittinger than family. She was kind-hearted, loving, and selfless with a heart that beat to help others in any way she could. Outgoing and friendly, Sue had the most welcoming smile and was the sort of person who never met a stranger. A peacekeeper, she had unconditional love and acceptance. Sue lovingly accepted and welcomed everyone as they were, without any prejudice or bias, and passed this trait along to her children and grandchildren. Life will never be the same without Sue, but she leaves behind a timeless legacy that her loved ones will proudly carry on in her footsteps.
With the end of WWII in 1945, America was making the shift to being a nation at peace once again. Rationing on common goods had become a thing of the past, and the baby boom was underway. It was during this time of transition that Eldene and Marian (Baklund) Shafer were filled with great anticipation as they awaited the birth of their new baby as February 1948 dawned in Fort Riley, Kansas. Their wait was over when the baby girl they named Susan Irene made her arrival on February 5th. She was one of three children raised in the family home in Battle Creek, Michigan alongside her siblings, Nancy and Duane. Sue was not the typical young girl of her generation., whether climbing trees, swimming in the creek or fishing with friends and cousins. She loved being part of the Campfire Girls and continued with that organization all the way through high school. Sue played the flute in her high school band and excelled at chess. After graduating from Battle Creek High School in 1967, Sue moved to Los Alamos, NM to work in healthcare for two years before returning to Michigan.
New and exciting changes were in store for Sue when she met the young man who would forever hold the key to her heart. His name was Doug Kittinger. They met in Leila hospital on the orthopedic floor, where Sue worked as an aide and he was a patient who was in a serious motorcycle accident. Sue was asked to work with Doug because she had such a calming demeanor and presence. Sue knew from the moment she met him that Doug was the one for her. Their relationship blossomed, and with the desire to spend the rest of their lives together, Sue and Doug were married on April 7, 1972.
There was nothing of greater importance to Sue than her loved ones. Together she and Doug raised two children, Gregg and Kristin. Sue was a loving and nurturing mother, and she was the glue that held the family together with her calm, caring, protective and patient nature. After raising her children, Sue re-entered the workforce at the Battle Creek Walmart. She worked her way up to manager of the fabric department, sharing her love of crafting to strangers who became her friends. She ended her career as a beloved door-greeter, retiring in May of 2019 after 25 years of service. She was a devoted employee and made friends at any Walmart she shopped at.
Although she treasured her roles as a wife and mother, being a grandmother was Sue’s greatest joy. Celebrating all holidays and birthdays with her family was important to her, but Christmas and Easter were her favorites. She always made sure to have a piñata at both holidays to incorporate traditions of her daughter-in-law into family celebrations. Her Easter egg hunt was very elaborate and perhaps one of their highlights each year. Each grandchild was given a set of clues that were tailored specifically to them to help find their eggs. Once they solved their final clue, they were rewarded with their Easter basket. Baking was something Sue always did to make the holidays special, and among the family favorites were her pumpkin bread and various Christmas goodies. Baking was in her blood as her grandmother was a pastry chef, and Sue had a long lineage of bakers in her family. She even had several recipes published and won a baking contest while working at Walmart.
There were so many things to love about Sue. As her family and friends can attest, she never wanted to run out of anything. For this reason, every drawer or table in her home had things like scissors, tape, Kleenex and batteries - all within arm’s reach. Sue was perpetually prepared for anything, and whatever you may need, it could likely be found in her purse!
She was very creative and artistic, as well as an accomplished seamstress. Sue crafted and quilted, and she regularly used all of these skills to support a good cause. Throughout the pandemic Sue made over 1000 masks, most of which were donated. If you didn’t have a mask, you soon received one from Sue. She also made sails for the boats that Doug and Gregg sailed together, including for their RC boats. Sue made plenty of dresses for her daughter and granddaughter, Katie. She enjoyed passing down the skills she had learned to her grandchildren. Baking and crafting with Grandma will forever be cherished memories. Gardening was a very important part of Sue’s life, as well. She loved her flower gardens and numerous house plants, some of which she has had for almost 50 years!
Some of her favorite memories were made on vacations, including annual trips to the Upper Peninsula with Doug to witness the fall colors. Reading was a favorite pastime, as was playing Words With Friends on her tablet. Sue was an avid fan of the Detroit Lions and University of Michigan football teams and proudly cheered them on. Northwoods Law was her favorite television show - so much so that Sue wanted her daughter to take her to New Hampshire and Maine to meet the stars. Ask her family, and they will tell you of Sue’s gnome collection. When she moved into a condo after Doug’s death, all of her gnomes were put in the basement as she had a smaller yard. There were so many of them that her son-in-law was able to arrange them all in a circle with a fox in the middle. Truth be told, her grandchildren found this a bit spooky.
Throughout her life, Sue touched and inspired so many others. She had a warm smile that drew others near with ease, and she was so friendly that she was known to strike up a conversation with strangers in the store. By the time she left the store her new “friends” would leave knowing everything about Sue’s grandchildren! Generous and giving, she was willing to do anything for those in need, particularly those with special needs. Sue was good at reading others and also very good at diffusing tension. She often said, “You are exactly where you’re supposed to be,” and always took everything that came her way in stride. A rule bender, Sue wasn’t afraid to push the limits and was never afraid to try something new. This was a trait that she passed on to her children. It only stands to reason that Sue could be stubborn at times, did things her own way, and was very independent.
All who knew Sue Kittinger would agree that she was truly beautiful on the inside and out. She lived to selflessly care for others, and her zest for life was contagious to all who were near. Sue treasured her family above all else, and her love and devotion for her family was unmatched. If she had an idea, she was sure to make it happen. An inspiration to many, Sue will be forever missed.
Susan Kittinger of Kalamazoo, formerly of Marshall, age 73, died on January 17, 2022. Sue was born February 5, 1948 in Fort Riley, KS to Eldene and Marian (Baklund) Shafer. Sue was preceded in death by her husband, Doug; and her father, Eldene. Surviving are her children: Gregg (Rocío) Kittinger and Kristi (Matt) Simon; grandchildren: Katie, Tommy, Diego, and Emilio; mother, Marian; siblings: Nancy (Al) Kirkpatrick, Duane (Rita) Shafer; and several nieces and nephews. Cremation has taken place. Graveside services will be held Saturday, April 9, at 1 PM at Oakridge Cemetery in Marshall with a reception following from 1:30 - 3:30 PM at Cedar Crest Banquet Centre, 872 E. Michigan Ave., Marshall. Visit Sue’s webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to share favorite memories, photos, and sign her guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to the Marshall Community Foundation FBO the Jeff Kittinger Memorial Scholarship or the Kalamazoo SPCA. Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo 269-375-2900.