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Life Story / Obituary
Linda Black was an extraordinary wife, mother, grandmother, friend, and clown. Her warm, nurturing spirit will be greatly missed among those close friends and loved ones.
Baby boomer Linda was born on June 27, 1947. Her parents, Joe and Betty (Crawford) Cramer, met during Joe's World War II service in Europe. Betty, originally from Glasgow, Scotland, was a war bride and traveled to the United States aboard the Queen Mary. They built their home in Chesaning, Michigan, and eventually had five children, of which Linda was the oldest. With her siblings, Judy, Morgan, Joe, and Germaine, Linda lived a "country kid" childhood, playing in the woods, ice skating on the frozen creeks, and riding bikes everywhere. She attended a one-room schoolhouse, walking both ways uphill with breadbags on her feet during winter time. She then moved on to the junior and senior high schools, graduating with the Class of 1965 from Chesaning High where she was crowned as the homecoming queen.
Eager to start a life on her own, she accepted work at a social security office in Flint before transferring to the west side of the state in Kalamazoo. There she met Bob, her eventual husband of 41 years. They were married in a small ceremony in September of 1975. They spent their week-long honeymoon traveling around Michigan during which they fell in love with a 30-acre piece of property in the Allegan area. The arrival of their son, Joe, in 1977, and their daughter, Jessie, in 1979, completed the family. They remained happy together in their newly built home in the woods for many years.
Linda treasured her time home with her young family before returning to work at the Community Action Agency in Allegan. She later became a secretary at Pine Trails Elementary in Allegan. A natural nurturer, she took her job as school secretary very easily and loved building relationships with the young children and her co-workers, many of those relationships lasting to this day. This position also allowed her the opportunity to be closer to both Joe and Jessie during their school years and to remain very involved with all of their many activities. She never hesitated to drive them to and from their practices and recitals. Being very crafty and artistic by nature, Linda was able to contribute her skills to many of the school’s events and enjoyed making costumes for their performances. It was no surprise that she had an extensive collection of fabric, paper and crafting supplies.
Linda gave so much of herself during those years and was grateful for being gifted with so much time with her husband and children. She cherished all of their adventures together, including a train trip across the country to the west coast, road trips to the east coast, a trip to visit her family's roots in Scotland, and the annual spring break trips to Bonita Beach, Florida. Each winter break was spent in their own woods searching out the best Charlie Brown Christmas tree and celebrating the annual Cramer Christmas.
Although Linda and Bob loved the remoteness of their Allegan home and had many wonderful neighbors, they downsized to the Parkview Hills Community in Kalamazoo in 1999. Linda never turned down an invitation to travel, whether it was with her family, her sister, Judy, or other close friends. Her Beach Babes group enjoyed an annual trip to North Carolina. The Canal Cuties went every year to the Welland Canal near Niagara Falls to monitor and direct the progress of boats through the locks. Her group of friends and colleagues from her times at Pine Trails in Allegan became the Cowgirls following a trip to Texas to visit the real cowboy Joe MaGee.
She made numerous road trips around Michigan and surrounding states with Bob and Jessie and traveled far and wide across the country with her sister Judy to visit friends and relatives. Linda first met Joe's soon-to-be wife Sammi during a family trip to visit them in Australia. She attended their wedding shortly afterwards in Shanghai and from there made a trip around China. Her trips to visit Joe and Sammi in Singapore then became twice-yearly events through which she traveled to many places in Asia, with different combinations of Bob, Jessie, and Judy joining in.
During all these travels, Linda loved to take in the rich variety of each region, often visiting old cemeteries for a sense of local history, or experiencing different foods or components of the area’s culture. Returning from her travels often included bringing home a rock, a scarf, or a piece of jewelry to add to her always-growing collections. Quite often she would find books or other information to help her better understand and appreciate the varied people, places, and religions she had recently experienced.
Back at home in Kalamazoo, Linda and Bob loved to treat themselves to a hot dog and an ice cream cone at Treat Street near their home. Once Jessie settled in Chicago, they met her there periodically and at several points along the route in between. Linda also ultimately found her inner-clown and as Starla T. Clown, she would don a bright pink wig to cheer up patients at the West Michigan Cancer Center and several area nursing homes. She also readily embraced the role of grandmother when Joe and Sammi were fortunate enough to bring Lily and Justin into the world. Lily enjoys telling stories real and imagined about things that happened "at Grammie's house". Together with Judy, she made many trips back to Chesaning to visit her brother Morgan and sister-in-law Sue and ventured from there to the Upper Peninsula on several occasions.
Linda will forever be known for her exceptionally positive outlook on life, even during her recurrences with cancer over the years. She was a true kid at heart who will be greatly missed and lovingly remembered.
Linda Black, age 69, died January 7, 2017 peacefully at her home with her family at her side. Linda was preceded in death by her parents and by her sister, Germaine Boyles and her brother, Morgan Cramer. Surviving are her husband of forty-one years, Bob Black; 2 children: Joe Black (Sammi Xu) and Jessie Black; 2 grandchildren: Lily and Justin; sister, Judy Brawley and brother, Joe (Penny) Cramer and many nieces and nephews. Cremation will take place. Services will be held Saturday 2 pm at Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Dr. Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900 followed by a reception in the Life Story Center.
Please visit Linda’s personal web page at www.lifestorynet.com, where you can archive a favorite memory or photo and sign her online guestbook before coming to the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made in her name to Southwest Michigan Cancer Center, Kalamazoo Loaves and Fishes or a charity of your choice.