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Life Story / Obituary
When reflecting on the life of Nancy Cottrell, it is easy to see her unending devotion to her family. She treasured her roles as a wife and mother, but she just might have argued that nothing was sweeter than becoming a grandmother six times over. Nancy had a way of taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary, and it was so amazing how she always seemed to have a story ready for any and every occasion. Life was not without times of trial for her, but she faced whatever came her way with both quiet strength and graceful courage. Deeply loved, Nancy will be forever missed.
During the first half of the 1940s, the eyes of our nation were focused overseas as countless young servicemen and women were deeply entrenched in WWII. Those who remained stateside became familiar with rationing on common goods while manufacturing was focused on supporting the war effort. It was also during this time that Jim and Phyllis (Wiley) Watson were filled with great anticipation as they eagerly awaited the birth of their new baby as the heat of the summer held the city of Marion, Indiana, firmly in its grip in July of 1943. The big day finally arrived on July 31st when the baby girl they named Nancy Sue drew her first breath. Within 5 years, Nancy became the oldest of three daughters, with middle sister MaryAnn and baby sister and best friend, Cindy. Their dog, Nipper, was also an important part of their family.
In many ways Nancy was a young girl of her generation. She had a great childhood that was filled with plenty of games and time spent playing. As a family the Watsons spent time at their cottage on DeWart Lake where they were often found swimming and fishing. Nancy liked rollerskating and was in the Brownies and Girl Scouts. She attended Emerson Elementary and graduated from Bennett High School in 1961. As a teen she also enjoyed things like bowling, dancing, reading , playing cards, going to movies, dancing at Tippy Dance Hall, going to Kenny’s Drive In in Milford, and cruising at Custer’s Last Stand. Social and outgoing, Nancy was always on the move.
After graduating from high school, Nancy was eager for all that life had in store. She started working at Methods Business Machines, which proved to be quite fateful as it was there that she met the love of her life. He was a coworker named Richard “Dick” Cottrell. He flirted with her, and when she did something nice for him he would always tell her that he would pay her with a kiss someday. One day, Nancy walked up to him and said she was ready to collect on that kiss. Love blossomed, and with a desire to spend the rest of their lives together Nancy and Dick were married in a small ceremony with just immediate family and their friends, Ed and Pam, who stood up with them on July 25, 1964. Together they welcomed four children including Jim, Jody, Jan, and Jeff into their hearts and home.
From the moment she became a mother, Nancy fully immersed herself in the role. Since Dick worked outside of the home she focused on keeping their bustling household going. Nancy was an active part of her children’s lives, serving as a den mother for the boys in Cub Scouts and coaching the girls softball teams as well. Generally, she was the one who ran all over the place to get her kids where they needed to go, and she was always very supportive and encouraging toward her children. Although they didn’t have a lot of money, Nancy skillfully knew how to stretch a dollar, and leftovers were commonplace in the Cottrell home. She had such an amazing way of making things special for her kids whether it was a birthday, holiday, or a memorable trip to Disney. Although resources were tight, she made a wonderful childhood for her children. Nancy was a firm believer in being practical when it came to running the household, shopping for groceries, or buying gifts for the kids and so much more. Traditions were always important to Nancy, and they became an important part of their family as well.
As her children grew older, Nancy continued to delight in her family. She looked forward to the annual Cottrell Mother’s Day golf outing as she and Dick always enjoyed golfing. With kids who were older, they always loved taking a golf trip someplace warm every spring. Nancy was thrilled to become a grandmother, and she was so proud of all her children and grandchildren. Longstanding traditions like gingerbread cookies at Christmas and homemade applesauce for Thanksgiving every year were a must. Nancy loved having the big family events and dinners at her house, and her spaghetti dinner was a family favorite. As someone who was active, she was there for as many of her grandchildren’s school and sporting events as she could. After Dick’s death in 2009, Nancy treasured her family even more. After 42 years of memories made in her house on Peachtree Street, she moved to a condominium on the other side of town as the house had become too much for her on her own. This suited her, and Nancy was proud of her home. Social and outgoing, she made plenty of new friends there as well.
When describing Nancy Cottrell, words such as practical, hardworking, and devoted come to mind, however, perhaps the word that paints the most accurate picture of her is selfless. She was fun-loving with a good wit and sense of humor with a smile that could brighten up the darkest day. Among the greatest lessons she taught her children were a strong work ethic and that everything is to be earned, but most importantly Nancy taught her children and grandchildren what it means to graciously love others. She liked order and erred on the side of practicality, yet relationships always came first. Life will never be the same without Nancy here, but she leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that her friends and loved ones will forever hold near and dear to their hearts.
Nancy Sue Cottrell, of Kalamazoo, died on Friday, October 14, 2016 at Rose Arbor Hospice. Members of her family include: her four children: Jim (Cathy) Cottrell, of Portage; Jody (Tim) Hartson, of Byron Center; Jan (Glenn) Nevelle, of Caledonia; Jeff (Diana) Cottrell, of Mattawan; Six grandchildren: Ashley, Allie, Becca, Tori, Caitlin and Brady, two sisters: Mary Ann (Jim) Randolph of Indiana, Cindy ( Darrell) Tackett of Indiana. Nancy was preceded in death by her husband, “Dick” in 2009 and a nephew, Michael Tackett. Visit with family and friends on Tuesday from 6-8 p.m. at the Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive; Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900 where services will be held Wednesday at 11 a.m. Entombment will be at Mt. Ever-Rest Memorial Park. Please visit Nancy’s personal web page at www.BetzlerFuneralHome.com, where you can archive a favorite memory or photo and sign her online guestbook before coming to the funeral home. Memorial donations may be made to Rose Arbor Hospice.