Gathering Time with Refreshments
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Life Story / Obituary
Cathy Kaiser lived a blessed life as a wonderful daughter, sister, aunt, partner, and friend to many. A loving and compassionate person, she lived her life serving others. She joyfully gave her time, talents, and resources to a variety of people and programs. Cathy especially loved surprising her family members with gifts, often pretending not to have been the giver! Known for her fun-loving personality, she will be deeply missed and warmly remembered by all who knew and loved her.
Her story began in the year 1952. Polio takes a toll on the United States leaving tens of thousands of children paralyzed, the iconic musical Singin’ In The Rain premieres at Radio City Music Hall, and the first Mr. Potato Head toy is sold. Donald and Patricia (Cronin) Kaiser welcomed home their only daughter, Cathleen Beth, on January 14th in Jackson, Michigan. Born second in a family of four children, she brought great joy to her loving family.
Due to her dad’s career as a state police officer, Cathy’s early years involved several moves. The family relocated from Jackson to Detroit, Grand Haven, and then to Rockford. Cathy excelled in school. She spent some time at Our Lady of La Salette in Berkley Michigan, and then on to Grand Haven before moving once again, this time to Rockford. A highlight of her growing years was a special trip in 1967 to the Expo in Montreal Canada. As a teenager, she enjoyed swimming in the community pool in their Rockford neighborhood and working at the local drug store in downtown Rockford. As a family, they enjoyed renting cottages in the summertime in northern Michigan. Studious as well as ambitious, Cathy later graduated as the salutatorian of the Class of 1970 from Rockford High School. Cathy set off for Central Michigan University to major in French. She was fortunate to spend six months in France putting her hard-earned education to practice, even taking cooking classes during her time overseas. Cathy later earned her Master’s degree from Grand Valley State University.
Anything she put her mind to doing, she always gave her all. As a result of her hard work and intelligence, she landed a wide variety of jobs over the years. Starting out in marketing research at Wolverine World Wide, she made her mark on the world. During her time there, she dressed up in the Hush Puppy costume for a memorable Fourth of July Day parade! From there, she worked at Rapistan–Dematic doing market research as well. For a short time, she was a career planning consultant and then worked at Davenport College as the marketing director for their AACE program. Cathy was always interested in pursuing opportunities and later settled into a position at Grand Valley State University where she worked in the small business development center. She enjoyed tutoring and assisting those wanting to start their own business. No matter where she worked, Cathy was well-liked and enjoyable to be around. She made each and every person she met feel comfortable in her presence.
When not working, Cathy absolutely loved being with people. She especially enjoyed hosting parties and trying out new recipes for her guests. Nothing made her heart happier than to entertain and care for others. Her family was a big part of her life and for many years she helped care for her parents as their health declined. She loved inviting her extended relatives over also including her brothers and their families. Cathy was always the one to be first to initiate get-togethers and enjoyed sharing meals and laughter well into the evening hours any time they were together. Her natural sense of humor and her antics made her fun to be around. She loved pulling pranks and was always the life of the party!
In addition to large family or friend gatherings, Cathy loved to travel. Her work afforded her the chance to take time off to travel extensively throughout the United States as well as Europe and Africa. One memorable trip to Washington included a ride on a whale research vessel. This experience even made the news! Her favorite trip, however, was the time she traveled to Australia. Cathy was so happy to share her love of travel with her special nephews and nieces on their Annual Aunt Adventures (AAA). She would carefully plan their journeys and come up with clever ways to spend time and have fun with them.
Cathy loved being involved in her community. Active with Quota International, she enjoyed the time she spent helping those who were deaf or hard of hearing. She also volunteered with Gilda’s Club, supporting others in need of emotional support, and also enjoyed helping refugees or the disadvantaged. Cathy was always ready to help in any way she could but did so humbly. A lover of flowers, she became a master gardener through Fredrick Meijer Gardens. In her later years, she worked at Ball Park Floral where she used her creative gifts. It was evident that she brought joy to those around her.
About fifteen years ago, she met a wonderful friend and companion, Axel Ewald. They enjoyed traveling and vacationing together. Sharing many common interests, they bonded over attending live art performances and sharing good food together. They had a special friendship and were always there for one another. Axel was very supportive when Cathy was first diagnosed with cancer about twelve years ago. She fought hard and was able to put her cancer into remission. Sadly, it returned about three years ago. This past year was especially difficult for her. Sadly, she is gone. Cathy had an incredible love for her family. They are certain to miss her smile and the positive energy she brought whenever they were gathered together. She will surely be missed for her wonderful kindness and selfless acts of love. May Cathy’s close friends and loved ones cherish the special moments they shared together and may her memories be eternal.
Cathleen Kaiser, age 70, of Grand Rapids, MI, passed away at her home on December 27, 2022. She was preceded in death by her parents, Donald and Patricia (Cronin) Kaiser. Cathy is survived by her brothers and sisters-in-law; Chris & Mary Kaiser, Patrick Kaiser, Larry & Julie Kaiser; her companion, Axel Ewald; beloved nieces and nephews; Andy & Gena Kaiser (Ally), Monica Kaiser, Carla & Scott Solis (Augustine, Emilia), Celia Kaiser, Joseph Kaiser, Angela Kaiser; aunts, uncles, cousins, and numerous friends.
The service to remember and celebrate Cathy’s life will be on Wednesday, January 4, 2023, at 11 AM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home – Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel where friends are encouraged to visit and stay for a time immediately following the service. Cathy eagerly and joyfully gave her time and talents to support her family, her friends, and her community. Her family suggests memorial contributions to the Grand Rapids Community Foundation. To share a memory or to sign her guestbook, visit www.heritagelifestory.com.