Life Story Funeral Homes®
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Life Story Funeral Homes®
The exclusive providers of the Life Story Experience

Laura Ellen Hagenbarth

December 20, 2023
Niles, MI




Laura Ellen Hagenbarth was 93 years of age when she peacefully joined our Lord on Wednesday, December 20, 2023, at Brentwood Assisted Living in Niles, Michigan.She was born in Mendon, Michigan,on July 30, 1930, to the late John N. and T. Ellen (Williams) Stephenson and was the youngest of 12 children.

Laura was raised on a self-sustainable farm and was always proud to be considered a "farm girl"; she loved to speak about how she even raised a pig in the house that would follow her around. Though poor by the world's standards, she didn't even realize it.Laura graduated from Mendon High School in 1948 as the Salutatorian. Her individual motto was, "Better to be small and shine than to be large and cast a shadow." She received a scholarship to attend Bronson Methodist Hospital School of Nursing, where she became a Registered Nurse in 1951. Following her completion, Laura attended Western Michigan University where she earned her Bachelors of Science in Medicine in 1954. She faithfully committed 45 years of her life to caring for others at Mercy Hospital in Benton Harbor: in the ER, as an OB Supervisor, and later in the Ambulatory Care Clinic until her retirement in 1995. While attending Western Michigan University and working in the clinic, Laura met the love of her life, Ronald Hagenbarth, while he was a patient there, being treated for a severe case of poison ivy he obtained while attending a fraternity bonfire.They were married on September 25, 1954, at Saint John Catholic Church in Benton Harbor, Michigan.Together they lived in Benton Harboruntil 1970 when they moved to Watervliet, Michigan for another fifty years.During that time, they enjoyed traveling together in their big diesel truck while pulling their fifth wheel. Laura and Ron spent seven years snow-birding to North Fort Myers, Florida until finding a home in Valrico, Florida in 2017 where they remained until returning to Michigan in 2022. Laura cherished making lasting memories with her family whether on camping trips or even cruises. She continually reminded her family of how important and loved they were. Above all else, she was their prayer warrior. She also made others feel loved and welcomed in her home. She was always known as the kindest woman who wouldn't hurt a fly, to the extent she would carry ladybugs outside to live another day. Laura was an avid cook and enjoyed making handmade gifts. She loved teaching her grandchildren the art of cooking, including how to make homemade egg noodles.

Laura also volunteered for ten years at the Saint Joseph Catholic School in Watervliet, Michigan, held various offices at the Ladies Auxiliary for the Knights of Columbus Council 4055 and offered her professional medical services to those less fortunate in Ecuador. She was a proud member of The Red Hats Society. But most importantly, she was a loving wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. Laura and Ron were happily married for 69 years during which they had five children, 17 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.She always requested that her and Ron's chairs were close enough to hold hands. When their beds weren't able to be next to each other anymore, they would reciprocate knocks on the wall to know they were still with each other.

Laura is survived by her husband, Ronald Hagenbarth; their 5 children, David (Rhonda) Hagenbarth, Galloway, OH, John (Susan) Hagenbarth, Portage, MI, Joseph (Ellen) Hagenbarth, Valrico, FL, James (Gayle) Hagenbarth, Three Oaks, MI and Lynda (Mark) Wurzel, Berrien Center, MI;17 grandchildren, Rachael Hagenbarth, Ashlee Hagenbarth, Marcia (Joe) Hune, Scott (Gloria) Hagenbarth, Bryan Hagenbarth, Brenna Hagenbarth, Amanda Hagenbarth, Alyse (Trae) Orban, Codie (Justice) Hagenbarth, Caitlyn (Nick) Gentry, Marissa Hagenbarth, Jeremy Hagenbarth, Joshua (Michelle) Hagenbarth, Jessica (Ryan) Ketterer, Brendon (Kayla) Wurzel, Bradley (Brianna) Wurzel and Victoria Wurzel;11 great-grandchildren with number 12 due in February 2024. She is also survived by her sister-in-law, Bette Westrick; as well as many loving nieces, nephews, friends; and her faithful dog, Trixie, who she stated daily, "I just love that little dog so".She was proceeded in death by her parents, seven brothers, four sisters, and her daughter-in-law: Teresa Hagenbarth.

Laura's Funeral Mass and Celebration of Life will be held on Wednesday, January 3, 2024 at 11:00 am EST at St Bernard Catholic Church, 555 E Delaware, Benton Harbor, MI 49022. Interment will be at Calvary Cemetery, 1736 E Napier Ave, Benton Harbor, MI 49022 immediately following the mass.

The family would like to thank the staff at Brentwood at Niles and Corewell Hospice for the loving care provided to Laura.