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.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
What her eyes could not see, her heart felt tenfold. Beulah Johnson was a remarkable and generous woman who loved abundantly. Despite the trials of her early beginnings, she overcame much and used those very experiences to help others. Beulah’s love was much like the patchwork quilt she so frequently worked on. Each had their own special story and the love she placed into every finely sewn square was one of thoughtful, loving kindness. Blessed with the friendships of many, Beulah delighted everyone she met with her genuine and compassionate nature. She will be dearly missed and leaves much to be fondly remembered.
Beulah’s story began during the era known as the Roaring Twenties. A time of dramatic, social and political change, much was taking place by way of technology and advancement. The year 1920 found women winning the right to vote, and the introduction of prohibition. The Ford Model T was the shape of things to come for the auto industry, while small pox was a concern for many. During this time of great transition in the northern Detroit, Michigan suburb of Southfield, the lives of Porter and Pauline (Neininger) Stevens was made brighter by the February 6, 1920, birth of their little girl, Beulah.
Joining her older brother, Harold and sister, Genevieve, tragedy struck their family when Beulah was merely three months old when her mother sadly died. Her paternal aunt, Blanche King adopted young Beulah and her sister. Having grown up in the Flint area of Michigan, times were pretty simple during Beulah’s childhood. The Great Depression made already hard times more difficult, and the death of her father when she was only six years old made for much heartache.
It was a struggle just to survive during the Depression. Having a roof over their heads and putting food on the table wasn’t easy to come by, and Beulah’s family was no exception. Always in search of better opportunities, her family moved 13 times. In so doing, she attended nine different schools as she faced multiple struggles in her young life, including tuberculosis, scarlet fever, and the death of her aunt's husband when she was 12. Despite these sad and tragic events in her early years, Beulah remained grateful to her mother’s family who took her in as one of their own. She knew she was fortunate to have not been placed in an orphanage, and most importantly, she always felt loved.
While many left their educations behind in search of work, as a young girl Beulah learned to be a talented seamstress and it certainly came in handy during these hard times and throughout the rest of her life. Beulah had the opportunity to graduate from Flint Central High School in 1938, after which she began working at the Ben Mark Store in Flint.
Faith always played an important role in Beulah’s upbringing, and it was while attending a church meeting when she met the love of her life, Hart Johnson. The two began a dating relationship, and after falling deeply in love, they were happily married on September 5, 1943. To their union, they were blessed with the births of two daughters, Jo Ann and Joyce whom they lovingly raised in Otsego, Michigan where Beulah and her family made their home. The security of being settled in one place was very important to Beulah as she didn’t want her children to move so much just as she had. An attentive and loving mother, Beulah remained at home to raise her daughters along with doing alterations and sewing for others in her little sewing shop located in her home. Eventually, her husband even bought her an electric sewing machine since she did such a good job and kept busy at it.
Beulah and her family enjoyed the best of times together. They may not have had much, yet they possessed a home filled with love. Beulah taught by way of example in all she said and did. To the last of her days, she loved when her daughters called and sang, Happy Birthday to her over the phone. She had a way all her own in making life fun and a learning experience. They’d travel to Traverse City as a family to pick cherries, earning money in order to continue their vacation. It was always an adventure, and although her daughters were raised on little, they always had fun and their lives were filled with activities.
Beulah always made herself available to help in the many things her daughters were involved in including 4-H and making the church nativity costumes. Beulah served as a Girl Scout leader, taught Sunday school, and raised money for the new church organ while attending Otsego Church of God by baking and selling her famous, date-filled cookies. They also picked blueberries together and sold them to buy schoolbooks and clothes. Often times they would even walk and pick-up pop cans and after cashing them in, their profit went to the mission. Beulah also made it a habit of picking up loose change for a nice meal at the end of the year.
Generous and giving by nature, it was Beulah’s belief that everyone should have a gift at Christmas. She loved the holidays and baked loads of Christmas cookies to share with everyone she knew. Her gifts were gifts from the heart and always included her wonderful little cookies and a loaf of her delicious banana bread. The hymns of her youth always brought a smile to Beulah’s face including her two favorites, The Old Rugged Cross and In the Garden. She also enjoyed listening to Christian music. She collected owls and loved to go shopping with her grandkids. As an avid and great game player, numerous games of Sorry! And dominos were often played over the years with them. And Beulah was always sure to have plenty of soda pop in fridge, along with pizza and ice cream bars for them to look forward to. It meant so much to her to give her daughters and her grandchildren the sort of things she never had the opportunity for while growing up.
It didn’t take much to make Beulah happy, either. She liked going for rides in the country and enjoying meals out at Bill Knapp’s, Cracker Barrel or Old Country Buffet. Throughout the years and especially following the death of her beloved Hart, Beulah often got together with her brother, Harold and his wife, Olive. Her nephew, Bob was always a big help, too, especially when Beulah lost her eyesight approximately 20 years ago. Merely a setback, Beulah never lost her zest for life. She enjoyed books on tape which was truly a lifesaver for her, and she even taught herself sign language and how to lip read. In Sunday school she’d even sign the Lord’s Prayer and so typical of her, she’d hand out big Hershey bars to the kids who could sign right alongside her.
While attending Westwood Church of God, Beulah took in the many activities and fellowship offered there. Having suffered from arthritis, being diagnosed with stage-four uterine cancer was difficult for Beulah yet she remained ever faithful. For the last seven years she resided at the Alamo Nursing Home where she received exceptional care. In all ways, Beulah enjoyed her many friendships and everyone who came her way. She was generous with her time and talents, and she gave from the heart as she knew what it meant to go without. As a grateful survivor of some of life’s most enduring circumstances, Beulah spoke freely the three most important words in her life, “I love you”. The patchwork consists of remembering each piece of the master piece which was sewn with a love all her own.
Beulah Stevens Johnson, age 96, of Kalamazoo died October 5, 2016 at Alamo Nursing Home. She was preceded in death by her husband, Hart A. Johnson in 1998; her sister, Genevieve S. Donnelley; and by her brother, Harold Leach. Surviving are her daughters: Jo Ann (George) Colyer and Joyce (Jerry) Kruithoff; nine grandchildren; 16 great-grandchildren; three great-great-grandchildren; and close friends, Monty and Margaret Miller, and Mike and Sue Reed. Services will be held on Saturday, 2 PM at the Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive; Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900, visitation will begin at 1 PM that afternoon. A reception will follow in the Life Story Center. Burial will take place on Monday in West Oshtemo Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to the Alamo Nursing Home or Braille & Talking Book Library. Please visit Beulah’s personal web page at www.BetzlerFuneralHome.com where you can archive a favorite memory or photo of her and sign her online guestbook before coming to the funeral home.