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Life Story / Obituary
With unending love for those around her, Stella Hegedus was a blessing to everyone she met. She had a warm and welcoming personality that had a way of putting others at ease. Strong and independent, Stella faced whatever came her way with grace and courage in a way that was such an inspiration. There was no greater gift in her life than her family, and she was happiest when surrounded by their love. A devoted mother, Stella was so proud to witness her family tree blossom to include numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren who were her greatest source of pride and joy. Deeply loved, she will be forever missed.
It was great to be an American during the exciting days of the Roaring Twenties. Innovation brought us things like radios, refrigerators, and washing machines that transformed the way we lived our everyday lives. Baseball became America’s favorite pastime, and motion pictures came to life with both color and sound. It was in the midst of this exciting time that Eddie and Orah Mae (Galloway) Payne were pleased to announce the birth of the baby girl they named Stella G. on December 20, 1926, in Deer Lodge, Tennessee. Sadly, her mother died when Stella was just six months old. Her father later remarried, and the family grew to include Clifton, Ivan, Raymond, Vernon, Leon, and Lincoln.
From the time she was a young girl Stella was one to keep busy. As the only girl among her siblings, she ended up being a vital part of raising her younger brothers. She walked to a one-room schoolhouse about a mile away, but she had to leave school before graduating because of family obligations.
When she was just 18, Stella left Deer Lodge, eager for all that life had in store. She followed other family members who had moved to Detroit, Michigan, where there were plenty of good paying jobs. Stella eventually made her way to Kalamazoo during WWII in the early to mid-forties. During that time she worked at the Gibson Guitar Factory, becoming one of the first Gibson Girls.
Life was forever changed for Stella when she met a man named Casper Hegedus. They began dating and were married in 1946. Casper had a son, Lester, and together Stella and Casper welcomed five more children including Ron, Steve, Joe, Tony, and Vicki into their hearts and home. Stella was a housewife, raising the children and tending to the home. She was an active part of her children’s lives as she was there for all their school and other activities. Family was always very important to Stella, and for years they took family trips back to Tennessee to see her relatives. Through the way she lived her life every day, she taught her children what unconditional love really looks like and the invaluable worth of family. It has been said that Stella was the matriarch of the family and the glue that held them all together when the storms of life came their way.
Once her children were out of the house and her divorce was finalized in 1990, Stella entered the workforce. She was so proud to receive her first paycheck at her job at Ports of Call Pizza in Mattawan. Stella also worked at the Ben Franklin Store in Paw Paw and also at the Van Buren County Jail where she greeted visitors. This was a great job for Stella as she was able to ease people with the tension they felt as they prepared for a visit. She occasionally delivered a meal to a prisoner as well.
Throughout her life Stella was a woman of many interests. She was very much a people person who played card games and Bunco with her friends and Yahtzee with Sue Paddock. Later in life she became a member of the Red Hat Society. Stella liked country music and playing the guitar as well.
With a life that spanned times of great change in the world around her, Stella Hegedus was a blessing to those around her. She was strong and independent with just the right amount of spunk mixed in. The glue that held her family together, Stella was the best mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, great-grandmother, and great-great grandmother anyone could ask for. Stella leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that her loved ones will forever treasure.
Stella G. Hegedus, of Mattawan, died June 21, 2018, in Kalamazoo. Stella was born December 20, 1926 in Deer Lodge, TN, the daughter of Eddie and Orah Mae (Galloway) Payne. She was known as one of the original Gibson Girls, working at Gibson Guitar while men were overseas during WWII. Stella was also employed by the Van Buren Co. Sheriff department and courthouse. Stella’s family includes her 6 children: Lester (Ginny) Hegedus, Ron (Connie) Hegedus, Victoria Livingston, Steve Hegedus, Joe (Renae) Hegedus, and Tony Hegedus; several grandchildren; great-grandchildren; great-great grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews. Stella was preceded in death by the father of her children, Casper Hegedus. Friends and family can visit on Wednesday (June 27) from 2-3 p.m. at the Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive; Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900. Funeral service will begin at 3 p.m. Burial will follow in Genessee Prairie Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan. Please visit Stella’s personal webpage 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.