Josephine E. Bartscht

Sep 5th 1912 - Jul 8th 2007

Print Life Story


Josephine Bartscht was a very active and social woman, who always opened her various meetings with a good joke. That’s the way she was, though, such a wonderful blend of business and pleasure, of brains and beauty, of character and charisma. Josephine was a devoted wife, loving mother and grandmother, and a friend to so many. Most of all, she was a woman of such great balance, who knew there was a time and place for everything. Today her place is in the hearts of all who knew her.

Josephine’s story began on a warm summer day in 1912, in the little town of Ellsworth, Michigan, not far from the brilliant blue waters of Grand Traverse Bay. Those were fascinating times in this country, as the automobile and the airplane captivated our culture, as well as the world. On September 5, 1912, George and Carrie (Williams) Liberty were more captivated by the birth of their first child, a beautiful baby girl they named Josephine.

Josephine was born at the family’s home in Ellsworth, where her dad worked as a conservation officer and interior decorator. Her little brother Arthur joined the family in 1914. In 1918, as the flu epidemic ravaged the country, her stricken mother sadly died during childbirth, along with her baby.

Josephine’s father remarried to a schoolteacher named Mabel in 1922, and they had a daughter named Jean the next year. The family then packed up and moved to Wolverine, Michigan, where Josephine finished her schooling. She graduated from Wolverine High School in 1928, at just 16, and as the school valedictorian, too!

Wanting to see the world, she left the sleepy town for the big city of Detroit, where the former valedictorian attended beauty school (brains and beauty, remember). After graduating from the school, she opened her own business, with a fellow classmate named Frieda.

Frieda took Josephine with her to a German Social Club one evening, where she met a handsome young man named Carl Bartscht, whose family all came from Germany. The sparks flew between them, and they began dating. Josephine and Carl knew how to have a good time together, and went dancing, to parties, and to “blind pigs” too — during the Prohibition era.

The happy couple was married on October 27, 1932, in Detroit, and settled into a little apartment. Carl worked for Continental Motors, while Josephine continued her business. Soon, however, she had more on her mind.

The young couple was blessed with the birth of their first child, Carrie, at their home in 1934, followed by son Karl (also at home), and later son Richard, who they had at a hospital. Josephine was a wonderful wife and mother, who loved to cook and take care of her family. She even mastered many of Carl’s favorite German dishes, especially Rolladen, steak wrapped in bacon! She also made wonderful chocolate rolls, and every Easter, she baked a cake decorated to look like a lamb.

Continental Motors transferred Carl to Muskegon in 1942, so the family packed up and moved to those sandy shores. Josephine became a fulltime homemaker then, taking care of their home first on Howden Street in Muskegon Heights, then Ranson Street in Muskegon, and later at 401 Houston Street, too.

The kids all went to Muskegon Schools, and Josephine was a very involved parent. She also began teaching sewing classes at the Singer Sewing Co. on Western Avenue in Muskegon, too.

The family did much together, and traveled to Detroit and up north often to visit family.

In 1952, Josephine went to work in the Principal’s office at Muskegon High School, where she dealt with the student-athletes’ eligibility matters, which was perfect for a woman who preached balance. She enjoyed the job, and was even given an honorary Varsity letter by the coaches once at an awards banquet!

Josephine was very involved in the school, and when Karl was graduating, she even cooked his Prom breakfast at their home, with enough food for all 50-75 kids! Josephine didn’t mind, though. She loved to cook, and loved entertaining even more.

Josephine’s son Dick went into the Army in 1965, and she feared so deeply for his safety, as he was sent to fight in Vietnam.

Josephine retired from Muskegon High in 1974 after a 22-year career, but she didn’t lack for things to do. She was a very active member of the Muskegon community, and a longtime member of the Muskegon Elks and the First Evangelical Lutheran Church, where she was very active, and even baked the bread for the church Communion.

Josephine also served on the board and was an officer at the Hackley Heritage Association, and was the Regional Liaison of the Michigan Chapter of the AARP, too. She was a member and former officer of the Muskegon County MEA Retirees, an active member of the Muskegon Civic Theater, the Junior Women’s Club, and the S.A.M. Club, too! At each of her many meetings, Josephine would open with a good joke, breaking the ice and setting the tone, business mixed with pleasure.

Josephine and Carl enjoyed their retirement together, too, and traveled often. They visited Germany to see his roots, as well as other parts of Europe, and loved to visit their family wherever they were, especially to see their grandkids. Josephine never forgot one of her grandkids’ birthdays, and a card always arrived from Grandma complete with a crisp, new $2 bill inside.

Sadly, Josephine’s beloved Carl died in 2001, after suffering health problems. She stayed as active as ever, yet her health began to decline, as well. On a sunny summer Friday, July 8, 2007, Josephine sadly died at the age of 94.

Josephine was a remarkable woman, who lived a long and fulfilling life, a life so perfectly balanced in all that she did. From her brains, to her beauty, her humor and humility, Josephine always struck the perfect balance in life. From her friends to her family, she was so loved by all who knew her. She will be greatly missed.

She is survived by 2 sons, Karl Bartscht of Ann Arbor, Richard (Judy) Bartscht of Milford, MI; daughter, Carrie (Dr. Richard) Soderstrom of Seattle, WA; 10 grandchildren, Stacy, Kirby, Frani, Karl Jr., Jill, Ben, Sean, Kimberly, Dayne & Chelsea; 6 great-grandchildren, James, Chloe, Lia, Renton, Taylor, Griffin; sister, Jean (Charles) Burbank of FL; many special nieces & nephews. She was preceded in death by her husband Carl and brother Arthur.

Services are Thursday, July 12, 2007, 11:00 AM at First Evangelical Lutheran Church with Pastor Jeremie Vore officiating. Interment at Laketon Township Cemetery.

Visitation is Wednesday, 2-4 & 6-8 PM at Clock Life Story Funeral Home - Muskegon.

Memorials may be made to the First Evangelical Lutheran Church. Please visit to share a memory or photo of Josephine, or to sign her guestbook.

Josephine Bartscht