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.
Otsego Schools Backpack Buddies program at Dix Street Elementary School
503 Dix Street
Otsego, MI 49078
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Rebecca Eckelbecker was a loving wife, mother, and grandmother. She lived her life fully by extending herself selflessly to others. No one was ever made to feel a stranger in her presence. Often guests at her home were treated to her fresh baked cookies and winning smile. Becky lived a lifetime of hard work. More than willing to do her fair share, she could bale hay, nurse a sick animal back to health, and braid the tails of horses for shows around the region. She was able to overcome many difficulties and hard times with great perseverance and strong will. Becky leaves behind a wonderful collection of memories that will forever be remembered by all who knew and loved her.
So much of our nation’s history was characterized by the year 1941. It was the year that marked the fateful attack by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor. Glenn Miller's "Chattanooga Choo Choo" was the number one hit single and Franklin D. Roosevelt was leading the United States into unprecedented times. William and Nettie (Swartwood) Cowley welcomed home their youngest daughter, Rebecca, on August 18th in Kittanning, Pennsylvania. Her birth brought her parents great joy and promise during an era of great change.
With the purchase of his own trucking company, her father moved the family to the Kalamazoo area by the time she was three years old. Becky and her ten siblings grew up in Oshtemo Township on West KL Avenue. Her life was not ordinary of the times. She fell in love at the tender age of fifteen to Clyde Eckelbecker during her years at Mattawan Middle School. By the time she was seventeen and he only sixteen they joined in marriage around her mother’s dining room in a small, private ceremony on August 27, 1958. At the time, Becky had temporarily quit school to tend to the family farm and take care of her ailing mother and the youngest Cowley sibling. Whatever she set out to do, she always did it with great love.
Making their forever home on a small section of her parent’s property, she and Clyde were blessed with three wonderful children; Theresa, Clyde Jr. “Butch”, and Bob. Although she had worked various jobs up until then, once a mother, she primarily stayed at home to care for them. Naturally, she was drawn to farming and enjoyed keeping a large vegetable garden each summer which kept her busy canning and baking. To earn a little extra spending money, she’d substitute as a supervisor on the schoolyard or pick fruit from nearby farmers. The family also had a small animal farm of their own with rabbits, cows, pigs, and ponies. Each summer she spent her free time serving as a community leader with the local 4-H group and supported her husband in his role as a member of the Pony Teamster of Southwest Michigan. They’d take their six-pony hitch to numerous parades and shows over the years. Although she was often afraid of the animals, her natural nurturing nature found her often grooming them or tending to their various needs. There wasn’t much Becky wasn’t willing to do to support her family.
Sadly, she and Clyde lost their sons, Clyde Jr. and Bob unexpectedly just three years apart. She was devastated and found herself at a loss. Pouring herself into her lifelong dream of completing an education, Becky graduated from Otsego High School at the age of fifty. Studying supported her through her grief and although she was very proud of her accomplishment, she still felt an overwhelming emptiness. Being a grandmother helped fill the void, yet she was drawn to her instinct and desire to be needed as a caregiver. Remarkably, she and Clyde expanded their hearts and their home by warmly accepted nearly fifty foster children over the course of five years! Falling in love each and every time, they committed to adopting two very special ones in 1997, Sarah and Ben. Just six years later, her caregiving role would be tested again with the strength to tend to her husband, Clyde during his extended illness. No greater testimony of her love was the seven years she gave to ensuring that his needs were met without complaint. Her tender ways of caring for him touched the lives of all who knew and loved her.
Over the course of those years, her family continued to grow blessing her with six more grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren. Over the moon, Becky cherished spending time with each and every one of them! In her later years, she loved it when Mike and Sarah would come and prepare dinner for her. She loved Mike’s grilling and would take advantage of their visit to spoil her youngest two granddaughters, Becca and Emma. Anytime the family was together, her heart was happy. There is no doubt that Becky will be deeply missed. May her special friends and loved ones find comfort in their lasting memories of her nurturing spirit, warm smile, and generous heart.
Rebecca Eckelbecker, age 76, died December 30, 2017, after a valiant fight with cancer. Becky was a member of New Hope Fellowship of Southwest Michigan in Paw Paw. She was preceded in death by her parents; husband, Clyde (2010); sons: Clyde II (1984) and Robert (1987); and several siblings. She is survived by her 3 children: Theresa (Scott) Paddock of Kalamazoo, Sarah (Mike) Perkins of Kalamazoo and Benjamin Eckelbecker of Paw Paw; 6 grandchildren: Eric Paddock of North Carolina, Nick Paddock, Kaitlin Sandlin, Amelia King, Rebecca Kirscher and Emma Perkins all of Kalamazoo; 5 great-grandchildren; Makayla, Tyler, Abigail, Asher and Evie; her lifetime best friend, Carol (LaVerne) Boerman; special friend, Phil Crowder; and two brothers. Services will be held Saturday, August 18 at 2 PM at Betzler & Thompson Life Story Funeral Home, 60900 M-40 Hwy (269) 657-3870 followed by a light reception at the funeral home. Please visit Rebecca'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 contributions may be made to Rose Arbor Hospice or because Becky was passionate in her donations for feeding hungry children in the community, Otsego Schools Backpack Buddies at Dix Street Elementary.