Mass of Christian Burial
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.
Deo Gratias Ministries Detroit
720 Atikinson Street
Detroit, MI 48202
Diocese of Kalamazoo
215 N Westnedge Ave
Kalamazoo, MI 49007
SPCA of Southwest Michigan
6955 W Kl Ave
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
With a warm, welcoming smile and a compassionate soul, Susan Kay Smith lived a life rich in faith and family. A true disciple of the Lord, Susan strove with every ounce of strength within her to model the work of the Lord. With unwavering faith, Susan embraced each moment as a gift and every person as a friend. She was a beacon of hope who often offered a safe harbor for others in the midst of life’s storms. Her quick wit and sense of humor often transformed a difficult situation into a happier experience. There is no doubt that the day’s trials were lessened, and its joys doubled when shared with Susan. Cherished by many, Susan will long be remembered and ever so missed.
1955 proved a year of vibrant growth with consumerism taking off in previously unimaginable ways. With the sale of nearly 7.9 million cars, for the first time in history, seven out of ten families in the U.S. owned an automobile and new laws were created to require seat belts to be installed on all new cars. This was the year Ray Kroc built the first McDonald’s, and TV dinners appeared, including the first fish fingers. Cans of Coca-Cola, Lego, Velcro, and The Mickey Mouse Club all made their debuts during this prosperous year. Rock and Roll music continued to grow in popularity with more idols including Elvis Presley, Bill Haley and the Comets, Chuck Berry, and The Platters. In Bronson, Michigan, this time of hope and plenty grew especially bright as the Smith family welcomed Susan into their hearts and home on October 4.
Growing up in southern Michigan, Susan’s early years were firmly rooted in family values. While her father worked as a Quality Control Manager at Bronson Reel Company, her mother worked at Douglas Manufacturing, Kingston Division. Susan was a treasured younger sister to Leonard, Robert, and Mary Ann. This was never more evident than when three-year-old Susan developed pneumonia shortly before Christmas and was hospitalized. When their parents returned from the hospital on Christmas Eve and their father carried in a bundle of blankets from the back seat, they brought their children the best Christmas gift ever, little Susie was home.
From a very early age, Susan possessed an unwavering determination and desire to serve others. Susan was a do-er! At the age of four, her father left the boys to start getting supper ready while he went to pick up Mary Ann from her piano lesson. Upon returning, he found Susan standing on a chair, tending the frying pan on the stove, seasoning the pork chops. Her love of baking began just a year later. At the age of five, she made her first batch of blueberry muffins. She stood in the kitchen, displaying her art with an enormous smile and basking in her mother’s pride. In response to receiving a doll for Christmas, while her friend got a truck that had a lot of bells and whistles, she felt very disappointed. Years later, she shared that her disappointment came from wanting a toy she could actually do something with. What could you do with a doll?
A natural caregiver, Susan never hesitated to give of herself in the service of others. Even as a five-year-old, she enthusiastically said “yes” when called to help. In 1960, Mary Ann asked Susan if she was afraid of heights. She then had Susan stand on a round table in the living room, explaining that her school needed an angel for the top of the Christmas tree in their operetta. As Susan had recently been a flower girl and had a fancy white dress, her parents worked together to tint the dress light blue and create the most fantastic wings an angel ever had. And so it was, the little blue angel was born. Susan sang like an angel while standing on a ladder to appear at the top of the tree. What a memorable event. When her brother, Robert, was dating Linda, his soon to be bride, every time they went into the car, Susan insisted on sitting between them to protect her brother.
Susan’s first jobs included working as a babysitter for her neighbors’ little ones. She adored the children and took excellent care of them. Susan then worked at Bronson Library, the Bronson Theatre concessions, and later at Shaw Shoes. Never afraid to try something new, she found that each job prepared her for her adult life. With each experience, she recognized that her genuine concern for helping people was an essential factor in determining a career. A strong student, Susan took her academics seriously while also enjoying co-curriculars like volleyball, tennis, and acting. Her discipline around her studies earned her the privilege of being a member of the National Honor Society. After graduating from Bronson High School, Susan attended Nazareth College and Wayne State University. While at Nazareth, she grew her love of music and singing through her participation in the chorus and practicing her guitar skills. Many treasured memories of singing with her friends were made during these times.
As one who always led with her faith, it was only natural that Susan heard the call to a vocation in nursing. Her parents had taught her early on that to help others, one must step up and do something without asking if they need help, as that only gave them a chance to say no. She modeled that in her entire life. With this cornerstone belief and her unwavering faith, it was only natural that Susan felt called to the vocation of nursing. She loved nursing and was known for her generosity and willingness to help everyone, whether a lifelong friend or someone she just met. A mentor to many, she taught others with motherly patience and kindness, helping them perform with even greater skill. While her intellect and skill inspired her peers, it was her legendary generosity that often awed those around her. Her commitment to the excellent care of her patients was evident in how she graciously went out of her way to afford them comfort, including bringing a patient her beloved canine for a final visit and putting out a room fire set by another. What a sight it was to see Susan confidently running down the hall with the enormous fire extinguisher and getting the job done before the firefighters could arrive.
Susan was an avid student of life, always actively seeking opportunities to learn and grow. She loved to cook, read, sing, and make things. She was always open to learning new skills in carpentry, plumbing, painting, and gardening. One day her father asked her if she knew how to change a tire. She said she did. To test her skills, her dad let the air out of a tire on her car and had her demonstrate that she could. Without hesitation, she masterfully handled the repair.
Without a doubt, the world is significantly duller in the absence of Susan’s bright and beautiful presence. While we will miss her dearly, may we find comfort in carrying her loving legacy forward in our own lives. With each moment we live our faith, greet a stranger as a friend, be of service in times of need, say “yes” to a new learning experience, we celebrate the many ways Susan gifted the world. In so doing, we keep her spirit burning brightly and inspiring others as she so inspired us.
Susan Kay Smith, age 65, died November 4, 2020 in Kalamazoo. She was preceded in death by her parents and brother Leonard Smith. Surviving are her 2 siblings: Robert ( Linda ) Smith and Sr. Mary Ann Smith; sister-in-law Alma Smith and many nieces and nephews. Visit with family and friends on Tuesday, November 10th from 4pm – 7pm at Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Wednesday, November 11th, 11am at St. Catherine of Siena Church. Cremation will follow with burial at St. Mary’s Cemetery, Bronson. Please visit Susan’s personal web page at www.BetzlerLifeStory.com, where you can read her life story, archive a favorite memory or photo and sign her online guestbook before coming to the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made to Diocese of Kalamazoo (diokazoo.org), SPCA of Kalamazoo (spcawmich.org), or Deo Gratias Ministries (dgmdetroit.org).