Tuesday, May 17, 2016
11:00 AM EDT
St. Johns United Church of Christ
1934 Bridge Street NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
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.
Van Andel Institute for Cancer Research
333 Bostwick Ave NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
The life of Flo Rauser was enriched in countless ways. In her family she found the greatest joy, and she brought warmth to all she encountered. A kind, loving, and spirited lady, Flo was ever dedicated to her career as a devoted wife and mother. She knew the meaning of sacrifice, and she would not have ever wanted it any other way. Flo was a woman of faith who was a genuine, supportive, and positive example. Most importantly, Flo loved her family dearly and treasured the friendships of many as she lovingly nurtured and enlightened all with ways of her own.
By 1919, the end of World War I marked times of great change in America. The 18th Amendment to the Constitution was established, prohibiting the sale of alcohol anywhere in the U.S. The dial telephone was introduced, and the pogo stick was the favorite of neighborhood children everywhere. In the riverfront city of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Henry and Margaret (Vriesma) Zwartenkot found much to be thankful for on November 4, 1919, when they welcomed the birth of their little girl, Florence Margaret into their arms. Born at home, her birth was merely a day before her dear grandmother’s birthday.
The oldest of three children, Flo was later joined by her younger siblings, Kay and Howard. She grew up on the northwest side of the city and attended Fairview Elementary School. During her teen years, the Great Depression already saw extremely difficult times, and these days were equally compounded when her father sadly passed away. Left with three children to raise on her own, Flo’s mother made a way for their family, with Flo’s sacrifice and help.
Flo began working as a live-in helper for a family from East Grand Rapids and each morning she took the bus across town to Union High School during her senior year. This arrangement was not an easy one for Flo, but it helped her family and she learned valuable lessons that impacted her life for the rest of her days. It built her character, and she realized what was truly important in life.
It was also during her senior year of high school when Flo met the young man who forever changed her heart. She and Donald Rauser went on a double date with friends to Ramona Park and it was only the beginning of many good years together. The two dated for a time and in October of 1939, they were blessed in marriage at her parent’s home which came to include 72 treasured years of a deep, abiding love. Before long they welcomed a family of their own with the births of three children, Judy, Gary, and Barbara. Don supported their family as a pattern maker, and as a mother, Flo was involved in the lives of her children. From playing in the mother-child basketball game at school to helping with cheerleading teams, she supported and encouraged her kids in each of their endeavors, and her presence at their events meant everything to them.
Flo made a good home for Don and the kids and taking care of her family was much easier for her by way of routine. She established her standards in her household, although she never had to enforce them because the rules were the rules – Flo expected clean clothes and clean rooms, and nothing less. She led by example for her children to live by, and in Flo her children found a loving and nurturing role model, especially as a wonderfully devoted wife. She and Don adored one another, and they never argued in front of their children. Each time they greeted or departed each other, it was always with a kiss throughout their lives together.
As a family, numerous weekends were enjoyed up north together. Their family began camping in tents at Crockery Lake and in their trailer on the Muskegon River before moving on to the Croton Dam area where they built a cottage. They took in fun-filled times with extended family and friends which always made for great times. Precious memories were gathered there, and with much anticipation, they each looked forward to the next weekend they would gather there. Flo’s kids even remember packing to go and leaving on Fridays for up north, along with pigs in the blanket that they could eat in the car and the otherwise forbidden can of pop! Although Flo kept busy on these trips cooking and looking after the kids, she found time to enjoy swimming, fishing, and catching wigglers. In her free time, Flo enjoyed relaxing with a good book.
Flo was a wonderful cook. She made many family favorites and was always happy to cook whatever game or fish Don and Gary brought home. She was known for her delicious baked beans, sauerkraut, and her scrumptious ice box cookies and fruitcake. For many years, her family sat down at the same time at the dinner table together which was important to Flo. Perhaps it was growing up through the Great Depression, but Flo lived a life of frugalness, yet was simply responsible. She and Don never had a house or car payment. Even when they were building their home on Ferris Street NW and needed extra money, Flo took a third-shift job for several months so as not to go in debt. With her selfless nature, Flo gladly sacrificed and placed the needs of her family before her own.
Quite a social couple, Flo and Don’s activity level grew once their children were grown and had lives of their own. They became members of the Elks Club where they enjoyed many activities and made numerous new friends. Even though Flo golfed some before, once they joined the Elks, she took it to a whole new level. They spent a good deal of time on the golf course together, having shared a love for the game, but when Flo began playing five days a week, her skills increased greatly. She even won some club championships. When Flo and Don started spending time in Florida, it gradually came to include six months in Michigan and the other six months at their home in Florida. Whether in Michigan or Florida, their time was filled with golf and friends, and as always, Flo’s golf apparel matched from head to toe!
Grandchildren were the delight of Flo’s life. She loved them dearly and was always willing to lend a hand watching and spending time with them if she was able. They loved visits with their grandparents and to this day, they each hold fond memories of these times. Through the years, the holidays were often spent at Flo and Don's house where memorable times were made and enjoyed. And as the great grandchildren came, Flo just found more places to put her love.
After selling their place in Florida in 2008, Flo and Don eventually moved to Covenant Village of the Great Lakes. They knew many of the residents there, and made many new friends, too. Along with her family, her neighbors were a big support for Flo when her beloved Don passed away on May 31, 2011. Although Flo was already being clouded with dementia, she eventually moved into assisted living where she gained valuable help, especially from one of her favorite caregivers and friend, Brenda.
Once Don passed away, there was never a doubt that Flo wasn’t looking forward to being reunited with her husband, parents, and siblings. In fact, she held fast to this hope and promise. Throughout their lives together, Flo and Don were in all ways positive and to them, the glass was always half full. Flo was a remarkable, social and outgoing woman. Her kind and thoughtful yet genuine nature was loved by everyone who came to know and love her. And for these things and so much more, she will be deeply missed and fondly remembered.
On May 12, 2016, Florence Margaret (Zwartenkot) Rauser, age 96 of Grand Rapids, began her journey to heaven with eager anticipation to reunite with her husband of 72 years, Don, her mother Margaret, sister Kay Haisma, brother Howard and many other family relatives and friends. Flo left behind to cherish her memory her children: Judy and Roger Abbott, Gary and MaryJo Rauser, and Barbara Erhards; her grandchildren and great-grandchildren Georgia Abbott and Dave Emmel and children: Dylan and Corrina Bergeon; Amy Jo and Michael Pischner and children: Krista, Nicole, Kelsey and Jonathon; Jeff and Jenny Rauser and children: Anna and Justin; Todd and Kerri Rauser and children: Hayley and Jordyn; Heather and Jon DeYoung and children: Emma, Joe and Kate; Shannon and Matt McCarthy and children: Connor and Kaylee; Lisa Warren and children: Hannah and Sophia; Amy and Bob Wilens and children: Joshua and Ellie; her sister-in-law Vivian Weston as well as several nieces and nephews.
Thanks to Flo's caregivers from Home Instead. Each of you touched Miss Flo's life with compassion, love and care in positive ways. Also thanks to the staff at Covenant Village Assisted Living for their faithfulness and love. Mom's special caregiver Brenda Swidwa was an outstanding third daughter.
A celebration of Florence's life will be held Tuesday, May 17, 11:00 AM at St. John’s United Church of Christ, 1934 Bridge Street NW. Visit with her family at the Heritage Life Story Funeral Home-Alt and Shawmut Hills Chapel, 2120 Lake Michigan Drive NW on Monday from 5-8 PM and again on Tuesday at the church from 10:00 AM until the time of the service. For those who wish, memorial contributions to either Hospice of Michigan or Van Andel Institute for Cancer Research are appreciated. To read more about Florence's life, share a memory or sign her online guestbook, please visit www.lifestorynet.com.