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Life Story / Obituary
A vibrant, hardworking, and passionate woman, Ann Gerould devoted her life to serving others. Whether it was her family, those through her work, or others in her community she was completely selfless. Ann accomplished so many things of which to be proud, but she was a humble woman whose greatest source of pride and joy was found in her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She was resourceful and even took that to the extreme most times as it has been said that she saved everything. Although she will be deeply missed, Ann leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that her loved ones will forever cherish.
When reflecting on the 1930s, it is difficult to recall much of anything that wasn’t affected by the Great Depression. There were few jobs and a soaring unemployment rate that left countless American families without homes. People did what they could to survive, however, bringing communities, neighbors, and family members together to weather the storm in any way they could. Despite the trials around them, Harry Towers and Katherine (McCarthy) Bigelow were able to shift their focus to an exciting time in their own lives as they announced the birth of the baby girl they named Ann Katherine on March 20, 1938. Born at Borgess Hospital in Kalamazoo, Michigan, she was the second of six children as she was raised in the family home on Scott Lake near Bangor during her earliest years alongside her brothers, Harry (Bud) and Robert (Tom), and her sisters, Carol, Barb, and Mary. Ann’s parents were in the fruit business, farming blueberries and apples, and they later got into the insurance business.
Ann was a young girl of her generation. She attended local schools in Bangor and was also active in the Kalamazoo Jr. Symphony and played the timpani at Interlochen. After graduating as the salutatorian of her class in 1957, Ann attended Western Michigan University. She liked being with her cousins and made great memories blueberry picking and fishing on Scott Lake. Ann was especially close to her cousin, Buddy O’Brien.
Not to be forgotten during her years as a young woman was Ann’s relationship with the young man who would change the course of her life forever. His name was Marion Gerould, and they met while in the Kalamazoo Jr. Symphony. They began dating and soon found themselves deeply in love. With a desire to spend the rest of their lives together the couple was married in 1958. Since they started their family right away, Ann only made it through one year of college as she fully devoted herself to caring for their four children including Alan, John, James, and Nancy. They raised their children in Kalamazoo, and Ann was a fantastic mother. In the late 1960s, Zawdie Abiade also lived with the Geroulds and became more like a son and brother to the family. Her skills in the kitchen were fantastic, and she carried her recipes with her wherever she went. A true saver, Ann froze anything and everything, and she always saved every kind of leftover as well. Over the years, she saved just about everything!
When Nancy went to kindergarten, Ann got her real estate license in 1971. She spent her real estate career in the Kalamazoo area, and she became involved with the Property Resource Center with Robert Vaughn. Ann was very passionate about housing discrimination, and she later merged this organization with PRC Bertolissi. Not only was she very successful, but she was also gifted in this work and truly enjoyed it. Ann joined the Kalamazoo Board of Realtors in 1971 and was given a lifetime membership upon her retirement in 2001.
For years Ann was also very active within her community. Much of her time was spent in the political arena and also in the civil rights movement in the 1960s. She served on the board of directors and on a number of committees for various organizations. Ann was also a chairperson of the Kalamazoo City Planning Commission. She was involved in Howard Wolpe's campaign for city commissioner in 1968, and she later campaigned for others we well. Ann was liberal and a progressive Democrat who was also involved with Action Now at one time.
Always a bustle of activity, Ann was forever on the go. Later on she started spending her summers on her boat in South Haven, but since it was named “The Office” she was always telling the truth when she told a client that she was at the office. She was a very capable captain while her husband worked the reels. Ann loved fishing, especially for perch and salmon. As someone who hated the winter and cold weather, she started spending winters in Naples, Florida, in the eighties. Ann always stayed for their family Christmas gatherings and was down South in time for all the bowl games as she was a football fan who loved the Lions as well as Western Michigan University and Michigan State University football. Ann enjoyed watching other sports such as baseball and golf, too. She spent her later years cooking and gardening at her home on North Lake in Gobles. She especially loved herbs. Ann looked forward to holidays including Thanksgiving, Christmas, and St. Patrick’s Day as her Irish heritage was deeply important to her. She enjoyed getting together with an informal group of feminist friends who together called themselves the “ladies birthday club.” Spending time at the beach with her grandchildren was a favorite, and since she didn’t like the term “grandma” they affectionately called her “big mom.” She enjoyed music from Abba, the Carpenters, and Peter, Paul, and Mary as well as Barbara Streisand, Boston Pops, and other orchestra groups.
Described as casual, thoughtful, and sassy, Ann Gerould was a true delight to know and love. She was the original feminist who was fiercely independent and passionate about the people and things she believed in. Ann was casual and laid back, although she could also be a bit brassy at times. She made a significant impact in the lives of everyone she met. Dearly loved, Ann will never be forgotten.
Ann Katherine Gerould, of Gobles, died on Monday, July 4, 2016. Ann’s family includes her four children, Alan Gerould, Gobles, MI, James (Jeanne) Gerould, Naples, FL, Nancy (Joe) Burland, Kalamazoo, MI, and special son, Dr. Zawdie (Nancy) Abiade, Muskegon, MI; granddaughters Jaime Burland and Ashley Henderson and great-grandchildren, Makiah and Adrian Henderson and Jaylynn and Jonathan Burland all of Kalamazoo; brothers, Harry Towers (Bud) Bigelow III, Robert (Tom) Bigelow; sisters, Carol Dooley, Barb French, and Mary Schroeder; and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins. Ann was preceded in death by her son, John Gerould. Cremation will take place. Services will be held on Wednesday July 6, 2016, 4:00 p.m. at the Life Story Funeral Homes, Betzler – Kalamazoo; 6080 Stadium Drive; 375-2900, with a reception following in the Life Story Center. Contributions in memory of Ann can be made to Catholic Family Services or Grace Hospice. Visit Ann’s personal webpage at www.lifestorynet.com, where you can archive a favorite memory or photo of her, and sign her online guestbook before coming to the funeral home.