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.
Kalamazoo Marine Corps League
1920 E Kilgore Service Rd
Kalamazoo, MI 49002
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Generous, loving, and kind, Virginia Gazley lived a life rich in faith and service. A naturally happy person, Ginny welcomed each day as a gift and each person as a friend. Her enthusiasm and pleasant personality made her a natural person to like instantly, and she quickly became a friend to all. Ginny's good company made tough times easier and good times even better. A devoted wife, mother, grandmother, and friend, Ginny was cherished by all who were blessed to know her.
Growing up in Pittsburgh with her adoptive parents, Joseph and Edna (Rodda) Friedman, Ginny’s persevering spirit quickly grew to be the firm foundation upon which she built the rest of her life. A graduate of Arsenal High School, Ginny cut hair for a time before she enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. She would spend hours doing her own hair, making sure every roller and curl was just perfect. Nobody was allowed to touch her hair, and she slept so only the back of her hair needed to be touched up in the morning. After completing boot camp at Parris Island, Ginny became a telephone operator at Marine Corps Base Quantico, VA, earning the rank of Lance Corporal after two years of service.
Despite her high school not offering female sports, something that displeased Ginny greatly, her knowledge of most sports grew to be exceptional and even lead to lifelong love with her husband, Rich Gazley. From the moment Rich first saw Ginny, he knew she was “the one.” Ginny, on the other hand, was not so sure. Eager for her attention, Rich went out with Ginny’s girlfriends as a way to meet her. Over time, he won a first date, treating her to a local baseball game. Ginny schooled Rich with her vast knowledge of the game. Rather than feeling intimidated, Rich felt even more confident that she was his right and perfect partner. As both Ginny and Rich were in the Marine Corps, they celebrated their marriage ceremony at the Marine Corps Chapel in Quantico in September of 1965.
Soon, the couple was setting their eyes on building a future together. They shared many wonderful adventures, including a famous weekend trip to Pittsburgh to see Ginny’s best friend, who was a beautician there. While Rich waited in the car, Ginny got her hair done. When she came out of the salon, she was sadly donning a beehive. Her frightful disappointment over the failed hairdo was most evident.
Ginny and Rich’s 55-year marriage was filled with priceless memories, including the gift of raising their children together. April and Rich were the centers of their world, and Ginny relished in creating a loving and supportive home for her family. An exceptionally proud parent, Ginny was her children’s super-fan. She encouraged all of their endeavors and passionately cheered them on from the stands. Her enthusiasm was so boisterous the kids often tried to avoid her.
As April and Rich became more involved in little league and other sports, Ginny discovered a new calling upon learning that one of their teams needed a scorekeeper. Eager to be of service, she quickly learned the necessary skills and became one of the first female scorekeepers in the area. She studied the process and took the time to learn the coaches’ and umpires’ expectations for the books, and was soon expertly tracking all possible statistics for volleyball, basketball, and baseball teams. Ginny’s commitment to accuracy occasionally inspired the need for her to correct the umpires or coaches now and then on the proper rules. Her precision and expertise ensured they heard her with respect and appreciation. For over 30 years, and with her husband at her side, Ginny volunteered and supported Hackett High School’s sports program. As a result of her dedication, she was inducted into the school’s Sports Hall of Fame, and she earned the Bishop’s Award for volunteering in the Catholic community. Ginny also kept score for KVCC basketball for ten years and served as the scorekeeper for WMU for a time. She especially loved traveling with the team.
Ginny found joy in most everything. She loved traveling and collecting fine things. While she sometimes lived a champagne life on a beer budget, her enthusiasm proved infectious. She had several collections, including Precious Moments figurines, Peacocks, and special Navajo pieces that were displayed with honor around her home. She enjoyed shopping online and with QVC, maybe a little more than she should have. Ginny loved taking the streetcar downtown Pittsburgh and walking the waterfront. She was also well-known for her epic living room dancing. Placing her favorite Elton John, CCR, or Bee Gees album on her giant record player, she’d soon be dancing with abandon, inspiring delight in all who were lucky enough to witness her glee. She also had a gift for performing incredible impressions of the famous comedian, Charlie Callas. With a stunningly accurate, “I grew up in a tough neighborhood...you could walk ten blocks and never leave the scene of a crime,” she could reduce her family to tear-streaming laughter. When it came to the family pets, Ginny’s response was consistent. Rich would bring them home, and she would hate them. In time though, they’d earn her love and affections and were hers from that point on.
Without a doubt, Ginny’s heart’s delight was her family. She was never happier than when sharing time with her loved ones. When her children became parents, she embraced her role as a grandmother with enthusiasm and honor. She enjoyed taking the grandkids to the zoo and local parks, as well as cheering on each of their dreams and goals with signature passion.
A powerful role model for all who knew her, Ginny’s legacy of love and generosity will long live in the hearts of many. With each delightful living room dance, stranger we greet as a friend, calling we heed, and team we cheer on, we celebrate the many ways Ginny gifted our lives. And in this celebration, we keep her spirit alive and inspiring others as she so inspired us.
Virginia Gazley, of Kalamazoo, Age 74, died on June 9, 2020. Ginny was preceded in death by her parents. Surviving are her husband, Rich; 2 children: April (George) Gauthier and Richard Gazley and his significant other Denise DeMaso; 4 granddaughters: Aryn, Aliee, Hannah, and Kristin; 3 great-grandchildren: Brayden, Kameron, and Raelynn; Rich’s sister Carol Chapman who were close friends; and Jo Calvert who diligently cared for Ginny’s health these past several years.
Private burial with Marine Corps honors will take place at Mt. Ever Rest Memorial Park. A celebration will take place at a later date. Visit Virginia’s personal webpage at www.BetzlerLifeStory.com, where you may read her Life Story, archive a favorite memory or photo, and sign her online guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to the Kalamazoo Marine Corps League or SPCA of Southwest Michigan. Arrangements by Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo 269-375-2900.