Life Story / Obituary
With a journey that spanned times of war and times of peace, times of plenty and times of want, Betty Carlson lived a life of purpose while holding her loved ones near. It was easy to see that faith was a lifelong cornerstone on which her decisions were based, and she lived to serve others in ways both great and small. Betty treasured her roles as a wife and mother, but she just might have argued that nothing was sweeter than becoming a grandmother several times over. Later, great-grandchildren joined the family, which meant that there were more people with which to make precious memories. Life will never be the same without Betty here, but she leaves behind a timeless legacy that her loved ones will proudly carry on in her footsteps.
Life during the 1930s was primarily defined by the hardships of the Great Depression. Jobs were scarce, the unemployment rate soared, and things went from bad to worse with a drought that covered our nation’s heartland for nearly two years. Despite the trials around them, William and Ivah Mead were able to shift their focus to a time of celebration in their lives as they announced the birth of the baby girl they named Betty J. on May 8, 1934, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She was raised in the family home at 715 Veto Street in Grand Rapids alongside her siblings, Mary, Beverly, and Norma. To support their family, Betty’s father was a truck and cab driver while her mother worked as a waitress at the Red Lion restaurant in Grand Rapids.
In many ways Betty was a young girl of her generation. She loved camping and fishing with her father in Grand Haven, and holidays were spent with the whole family gathered together. Betty attended local schools including Union High School where she was a majorette with the band. She later graduated from high school.
New and exciting changes were in store for Betty when she met the young man of her dreams. His name was Lou Carlson, and they were introduced by Uncle RD while Lou was working as a farmer. Sparks flew right from the start, and they began dating. With a desire to spend the rest of their lives together, Betty and Lou were married on June 12, 1953, at the Swedish Covenant Church in Grand Rapids.
After a honeymoon spent at Niagara Falls, the newlyweds returned to Grand Rapids where they settled into married life. They settled into a home at 3266 Winans Street in Tallmadge Township. There, they welcomed four children including Gregg, Gary, Cathy, and Connie into their hearts and home. With a heart for her family, Betty focused her time and attention on caring for her home and family as a homemaker, wife, and mother. She was a very loving, nurturing, and protective mother who always put her children first. When her family later grew to include grandchildren, Betty was thrilled. She was blessed with eight grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren who were the light of her life. Summers were spent on Loon Lake, and they loved it there so much that they eventually bought a cabin there.
In addition to being surrounded by her family, there were so many other things that Betty loved. She was a woman of faith who was very active at her church, Grand Valley Baptist Church. They were longtime members, and over the years Betty was a Sunday school teacher, church treasurer, and helped with dinners as she loved cooking. She was also an exceptional baker who was famous for her apple, cherry, blueberry, and lemon meringue pies. Betty’s favorite book was the Bible, and country gospel was her favorite music. During their retirement years they did some traveling including Arizona, and to Wainwright, Alaska to visit their son Gary and family and to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to visit Gregg's family. Additionally, they took a cruise to Alaska and along the Northwestern coast, and they also went to see the Detroit Tigers spring training in Florida for several years. Betty liked fishing, following Griffins hockey as well as going out to Russ’ Restaurant for lunch with her grandchildren. At home she enjoyed sewing, ceramics, doing jigsaw puzzles, and collecting Emmett Kelly figurines.
All who knew Betty Carlson would agree that she was truly beautiful on the inside and out. She was warm and caring with a genuine personality that drew others near with ease. Betty had the most amazing smile, and there was no greater gift in her life than her family. Deeply loved, she will be forever missed.
Betty Carlson, age 82, of Grand Rapids passed away peacefully at home and went to be with her Lord and Savior on December 29, 2016. She was a devoted and loving wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother and friend. Betty was born on May 8, 1934 in Grand Rapids to the late William and Ivah (Jenkins) Mead. On June 12, 1953, also in Grand Rapids, Betty married Louis Carlson. Together they were long time members of Grand Valley Baptist Church where she served in many church ministries. Betty mostly enjoyed spending time with her grandchildren, especially outdoors. She will be greatly missed by her husband of 63 years; children, Gregg (Pamela) Carlson of Advance, NC, Gary (Kathryn) Carlson of Grand Haven, Cathy (David) Zokoe of Jenison, and Connie (Steven) Guppy of Hudsonville; grandchildren, Stacey, David, Adam, Levi, Abigail, Derek, Mandy and Tina; and eight great grandchildren. Also surviving are her sister, Beverly Bowyer of Cedar Springs, and sisters-in-law, Barbara (Jim) Fritz, Carol Damon, and Mabel (Steve) Grifhorst. Betty is preceded in death by her sisters, Mary Hood and Norma Bowyer; and sister-in-law, Florence Smith. A funeral service is planned for Tuesday, January 3rd at 11 AM at Grand Valley Baptist Church, 3186 River Hill Drive. Friends may visit on Monday from 6-8 PM at Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel, 2120 Lake Michigan Drive NW. Interment will be in Rosedale Memorial Park. Please visit Betty's personal web page to learn more of her life story, to leave your own memory or condolence for the family at www.lifestorynet.com.