Thursday, September 30, 2021
10:00 AM to 11:00 AM EDT
Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes
Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel
2120 Lake Michigan Dr., N.W.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
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.
Little Mary's Hospitality House
PO Box 27
Wellston, MI 49689-0027
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
All who knew Bettie Duffy would agree that she was truly beautiful on the inside and out. She was hardworking and diligent, giving her best to everything she did. There was no greater gift in Bettie’s life than her loved ones, and she made a point of fostering deep relationships with her entire family. She was filled with unspeakable joy to become a grandmother, and to the family that she treasured as her greatest source of pride and joy. Deeply loved, Bettie will never be forgotten.
During the first half of the 1940s, the eyes of our nation were focused overseas as WWII raged on while rationing on common goods became a regular part of life. It was during this eventful time that Clarence and Hazel (Hess) Ratliff were pleased to announce the birth of the baby girl they named Bettie Lou on July 20, 1942. Born and raised in Grundy, Virginia, she was the third of six children as she was joined in her family by her siblings, Jean, Don, Bill, Sue and Dave. At the time Grundy was a small coal mining town in the Appalachians. Although the town didn’t offer their family a prosperous future, they did have a lot of family around and enjoyed regularly getting together. The family moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, after finding better work when Bettie was in fourth grade as her aunt had already been living there. Around home, she and her siblings had chores, which didn’t leave them with much free time.
After settling on the Northwest side of Grand Rapids, it didn’t take Bettie long to adjust. She went to Sibley Elementary and then went on to Union High School. Bettie was always outgoing and social, which were traits that remained throughout her entire life. She made friends who remained lifelong friends with whom she got together on a monthly basis. Bettie’s high school yearbook even noted that she was a “friend to all.” In addition to holding down her studies she also worked as a waitress at Greenridge Country Club.
New and exciting changes were in store for Bettie when she met the man who would be her lifelong love. His name was James Duffy, and although they likely knew each other in high school they didn’t connect until later when he returned home after the service. They fell in love, and with a desire to spend the rest of their lives together Bettie and Jim were married at St. James Church on October 17, 1964. They initially settled into an apartment but later moved into their longtime home on Marlboro where they raised their two boys, Scott and Dan.
Family was always Bettie’s primary focus. Around home she made sure her boys learned responsibility as she expected them to help out. Bettie taught them to make their bed each morning, and they also helped with other routine tasks like dishes. Ironing was one task she always did herself, however, and she ironed pretty much everything. Bettie was amazing in the kitchen, and among the family favorites were Thanksgiving stuffing, bean dip for Christmas, Texas sheet cake and other desserts as well as her homemade strawberry jam. As a family they made priceless memories while camping, first in tents and later in a popup camper. Over the years they went to many of the Michigan state parks, and Bettie really enjoyed fishing. From the time they bought it in 1988, their family cottage in Irons was another favorite. Bettie made sure they spent as many summer weekends there as possible. They also made good friends there, and the cottage was always buzzing with people.
Over the years Bettie was someone who loved sharing her life with others. She and Jim were on a golf league together for several years, and she was also part of a ladies group. Bettie had another group of friends whom she enjoyed bowling with, and she loved the social part as much or even more than the actual bowling. Bettie made ceramics for a time, but she did less of that once she found another love later in life — gambling. She enjoyed playing Bingo locally, and once the casinos opened closer to home Bettie and Jim enjoyed going there either on their own or as part of a bus trip. There were also the special trips to Las Vegas with her sister-in-law. Bettie was close to her siblings throughout her life, and as her parents and Jim’s parents aged she was there to help care for them. She enjoyed playing the lottery and had her weekly routine that was not to be messed with. Bettie and Jim had many friends at Jackson Street Hall and Kosciuszko Hall. Her heritage was always important to her, but Jim’s was also equally important to her. Bettie and Jim complimented one another well, and they loved being grandparents. They were there to support their grandchildren in all their events and activities, and she was looking so forward to their upcoming marriages this next year. Bettie and Jim took some memorable trips including trips to Alaska and the Snow Train in Canada. She and Jim moved to Rolling Green Condominiums about 30 years ago, and of course she made many more friends there. Everyone always knew that if her garage door was open she was up for company. Everyone knew that Bettie was a fantastic listener.
In addition to caring for her family, Bettie also worked outside of the home. After graduating, she started working for the Brander family who owned an insurance company as well as Kutsche’s hardware store. Bettie did some bookwork in the office at both places, and she ended up working at Kutsche’s for more than 50 years.
During her later years, Bettie maintained her active lifestyle. She loved morel mushroom hunting and introduced her grandchildren to it just a few years ago. When Jim’s health declined, she cared for him until he passed away in 2017. Although she was deeply saddened, her desire to be independent kept her busy. Even as her health began to become more challenging, she still kept busy. Bettie was even able to take a trip to Las Vegas with her sister-in-law. She also continued to spend time with her family as much as she could.
Although she was smaller in size and stature, Bettie Duffy was someone who was impossible to miss. She was outgoing, friendly, and social with a zest for life that was contagious to all who were near. Bettie wasn’t afraid to stand her ground and could even be feisty at times, but she was also just as sweet as they come. Her family was a priceless treasure, and she was happiest when surrounded by their love. Life will never be the same without Bettie here, but she leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that her loved ones will forever cherish.
Bettie Duffy, age 79 of Grand Rapids, passed away September 17, 2021. She was preceded in death by her husband of 52 years, James Duffy; her mother, Hazel Ratliff; brothers, Don, Bill, and Dave Ratliff; and sister, Jean Jourden.
Bettie is survived by her children Scott Duffy, Dan & Missy Duffy; grandchildren Andrew (Ashley) and Nicole (Justin); sister, Sue (Roger) Ensing, sister-in-law Mary Ellen Duffy (Ron Skuzinski) and many nieces and nephews.
Bettie worked over 50 years as a bookkeeper at Kutsche’s Hardware and continued to look forward to going to work.
The service to remember and celebrate her life will be held on Thursday, September 30 at 11 AM Heritage Life Story Funeral Home - Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel, 2120 Lake Michigan Drive NW. Friends are invited to visit with her family on Wednesday from 5-8 PM and on Thursday beginning at 10 AM. For those who wish, memorial contributions to Little Mary's Hospitality House are appreciated. To read more about Bettie’s life, to share a memory or photo, or to sign her guestbook, visit www.heritagelifestory.com
For those who wish, memorial contributions to Little Mary's Hospitality House are appreciated. To read more about Bettie’s life, to share a memory or photo, or to sign her guestbook, visit www.heritagelifestory.com