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Life Story / Obituary
When reflecting on the life of Linda Petraitis, words such as selfless, genuine, and gracious come to mind, but perhaps the word that most vividly paints the picture of Linda is mother. Some view being a mother to be a routine calling with little reward, however, nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to Linda as she lived to be a mother. The only thing better was when grandchildren came along, which gave her more loved ones to fuss over. Linda’s door was always open to others, and her home was not only a fun place to be, but it was also a welcoming haven where everyone felt truly loved. Blessed to share her life with her true love for 50 years, she will be deeply missed but never forgotten.
In 1944 that Virgil and Violet (Brininger) Parker awaited the birth of their baby girl as summer began to bloom in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The big day finally arrived on June 1st when the baby girl they named Linda Jean drew her first breath. She was the second of four children in her family, and she was like a surrogate mother to her younger siblings as she was an integral part of their upbringing. Linda’s father worked at Fuller Transmissions while her mother worked at Eckridge Packaging.
Even as a young girl Linda was a flurry of activity. She lived in several different homes, but her favorite house was their place on Mill Lake in Gobles. Property on this lake is still in the family today, and through the years it has been a special gathering place for the family. Linda’s parents separated when she was in high school, but she remained close to all of her siblings for the rest of her life as her sisters were her best friends. While growing up these sisters were able to make the best of things while living within limited means. Linda treasured the companionship of her horse, Cindy. She attended local schools including Mattawan High School where she was popular among her peers and elected as both homecoming queen and snowcoming queen. This isn’t surprising since she was truly beautiful on the inside and out.
Not to be forgotten during her years as a young woman was her introduction to the man with whom she would write a love story that would span 50 years this year. His name was Bill Petraitis, and he was seven years her senior and a handsome soldier in the United States Army. They were introduced through family and friends while he was home on a furlough. They only met in person that once, but then they corresponded through letters when he returned to active duty. Their love deepened over time, and with a desire to build a life together, Linda and Bill were married on May 1, 1965, at the United Methodist Church. For a honeymoon the newlyweds drove to Miami in his 1962 Pontiac convertible and ended up getting sunburned on the way down!
Life became even more exciting when Linda and Bill became parents to two amazing children, Julie in 1969 and Cindy in 1972. Linda was able to focus her attention on caring for their girls in their home on Adam Street in the Oakwood neighborhood. She loved planting flowers with her neighbor, Norma, who was an adopted grandmother to her girls. Linda was an amazing cook who also crocheted clothes for her girls. Everyone always wanted to be at Linda’s since it was so much fun, and her door was always open, too. Additionally, Linda was active in the 7th Day Adventist Church and School with her children. Summers were spent at Mill Lake where all the cousins became close to one another. Linda always credited her mother with keeping the family together, especially with homemade food and pies. There was nothing quite like going out for a pontoon ride, especially at sunset. Linda and her sisters always had so much fun together, and there was no shortage of stories and laughter when they all got together.
Linda was always busy doing something! When her girls were both in junior high, she worked as a driver for Fed Ex. After retiring Linda and Bill would spend two months during the winter at the caribe in Alabama with her siblings. She loved spending time in the kitchen and made everything entirely from scratch including her pies. Linda also did plenty of canning. She played both the piano and the organ, and when they were younger the girls sang with her. When Linda and Bill were younger, they could really turn up the heat on the dance floor with Polka. She loved decorating the house for all the seasons, hosting people for the holidays, and Linda has been called the queen of the garage sales. Linda also enjoyed reading, gardening, and buzzing around their 37 acres in her golf cart with her granddog, Buddy. Her own dogs, Buffy and Pookie, as well as her barn cats, Sam and Tippy, were also important parts of her life. Linda absolutely loved being a grandmother, and of course she never told either of her grandchildren “no.” She enjoyed time spent with both of her grandsons, Joey and Adam, swimming on Friday nights at KVCC and sleeping under the stars. She loved conversations with Joey, because he always made her laugh. Where her family was concerned, Linda was very sentimental as she was known for keeping their things in the barn rafters since they “might want it later.”
Generous beyond measure, Linda Petraitis was a true gift to the world around her. She loved reading Bible stories and was not afraid to share her unwavering faith, and she never had an unkind word to say about anyone. Linda has been described by a word representing each letter in her name: loving, intelligent, nurturing, devoted, and amazing, and she was also creative, responsible, and likable. A devoted wife, loving mother, doting grandmother, and loyal friend, Linda’s memory will be forever cherished by all who were blessed to know and love her.
Linda J. Petraitis died on April 7, 2015. Linda’s family includes her husband of 50 years, Bill Petraitis, 2 daughters: Julie (Joe) Cernik and Cindy Petraitis; 2 grandsons: Joey and Adam Cernik; 3 siblings: Darlene (Dave) Mahieu, David (Sally) Parker and Alice (John) Crimaldi; and many nieces and nephews. Visit with family and friends on Friday from 5:00-8:00 p.m. at the Life Story Funeral Home, Betzler & Thompson-Paw Paw, 60900 M-40; 657-3870 where services will be held Saturday at 1:00 p.m. Burial at Genessee Prairie Cemetery followed by a reception at the Parkview Hills Club House. Please visit Linda’s personal web page at www.lifestorynet.com, where you can archive a favorite memory or photo. Memorial contributions may be made to Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan.