Celebration of Life
Saturday, July 14, 2018
4:00 PM to 8:00 PM EDT
1219 Short Road
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
From Stadium Dr., turn right on Howard St. SE, and turn left on Oakland Dr.. Then turn right on Wheaton Ave. Gilmore House can be found on Short Rd. off of Wheaton Ave.
Life Story / Obituary
Born Helen Jean Morrison in Shamrock, Missouri in February 1931, Helen grew up with her parents and two older sisters in Salisbury, Missouri. In her 87 years, she rarely stopped moving for long. She met her future husband, Ronald Flaspohler, at a dance in Salisbury while in high school and they married in May 1955, shortly after graduating from Central Methodist College with a degree in business education. Higher education was a touchstone of her life. For the next six decades she and Ron modeled a loving, respectful, trusting and endearing relationship for their three children; Rhonda Overberger (Kalamazoo, MI) John (Moorhead, MN) and David (Hancock, MI). She was also an exemplary grandmother to five grandchildren; Genevieve, Ingrid, Erik, Lydia and Claire upon whom she lavished love and attention. Her grandchildren remember her for little details like adding bags of candy to the weekly Sunday New York Times she mailed to the U.P. after she and Ron had read it. She loved spending warm sunny days in February with the grandchildren in Sanibel, Florida where she presided over loud and boisterous meals at the Bubble Room.
She worked as an administrative assistant in Ann Arbor while Ron was completing his PhD, and hand typed his entire PhD thesis on lizard behavior. She had a very successful career at Western Michigan University in the alumni relations and development office, retiring as executive director of development in 1992. She was responsible for raising millions of dollars in support of the university’s educational mission, including building relationships that ultimately resulted in the single largest donation WMU had ever received at the time. Upon retirement, she enjoyed friends, family and frequent travel with Ron on butterfly collecting trips to Mexico, Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador and French Guiana. She spent some of her happiest days sharing sun, sand, good food and long walks in Ludington, Michigan with family and friends. Helen was famous for her energy and wanderlust, her curious and inquisitive mind, and her generosity of spirit. She lived her beliefs, which evolved from those imparted by her childhood in rural Missouri through a broadening of her world in Ann Arbor of the late 1960s. She had no hesitation about acting on her beliefs. She firmly believed in progressive causes that led her to memberships on the board of Planned Parenthood and advocating for progressive women lawmakers in Michigan. She believed in fairness and worked to treat everyone she met with kindness, and without prejudice or judgement.
She was a wonderful cook, host, and spirited debater on any topic. She loved to garden, read, and travel and she passed these passions on to her children and grandchildren. She was intensely proud of her immediate and extended family which stretched all the way back to a signer of the Bill of Rights. She taught her children invaluable lessons about love, resiliency, optimism, self-esteem, as well as achievement, generosity and selflessness. Her energy and spirit live on in her professional achievements, her children and their families, and in the enduring love of her husband Ron.
Age 87, died on April 18, 2018. Helen, the daughter of James and Ellen Morrison, was born February 19, 1931 in Shamrock, MO. She is survived by her husband, Ronald; 3 children: Rhonda Overberger, John and David Flaspohler; and 5 grandchildren: Genevieve, Ingrid, Erik, Lydia and Claire. A Celebration of Life will be held Saturday, July 14 from 4-8 PM at the Gilmore House, 1219 Short Rd., Kalamazoo. Contributions may be made to donor’s choice. Please visit Helen’s personal web page at www.BetzlerFuneralHome.com, where you can archive a favorite memory or photo and sign her online guestbook. Arrangements by Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Dr., Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900.