Life Story / Obituary
Betty was a strong-willed, kindhearted woman who enjoyed playing bingo, growing plants and spending time with her family. A truly family-oriented woman, she devoted her life to caring for her husband, children and grandchildren. Betty’s family members knew that she would always be there for them, sharing in both their joys and their sorrows.
Betty Lorraine Parm was born during the “Roaring Twenties,” a time when Americans enthused about new crazes such as jazz, flag-pole sitting, and speakeasies. However, the tiny village of Pierson, Michigan, Betty’s birthplace, was far removed from such antics. On November 17, 1922, her proud parents, Arthur and Frances (Ogg) Parm, witnessed Betty’s arrival in the world. The youngest in the family, Betty loved playing with her older sister, Leona. While the Parms lived in Pierson, Frances worked as a cook for a logging camp in the area. Despite their family connections in Pierson, however, the family decided to move to Grand Rapids soon after Betty’s birth. Their new home was located on the corner of Three Mile Road and Alpine Avenue. As the years went by, Betty attended Fairview Elementary School and later Union High School which she graduated from in 1941. For Betty, most memorable about her school days were the warm friendships she made.
One of Betty’s most significant high school friendships was with a young man named Claude Datema. The couple happened to meet at a dance and a romance quickly developed between them. Soon after Betty’s graduation the couple became engaged and in 1941 friends and family gathered to witness their marriage. Betty and Claude stayed in Grand Rapids, making a home for themselves on Union Street N.E. When she wasn’t busy cooking and caring for their home, Betty was active on a bowling league. She also loved having Claude take her out dancing on the weekends.
The family was soon blessed with six beautiful children: Claude, Sharon, Roger, Linda, Lonnie, and Dannie. Betty, a dedicated wife and mother, devoted her life to caring for her husband and children. She felt most comfortable when surrounded by family and would not hesitate to fight for them. In addition to caring for her own family, Betty watched over people’s children during the day. This supplemented the family income while allowing Betty to stay home with her children. This was very important to her; her children remember that she was always at home for them. If she wasn’t home, then something was wrong. Betty was a wonderful cook: there was always something bubbling on the stove or baking in the oven to entice the family at dinner. She also had a green thumb, able to grow anything in the house. Sometimes these two talents were unexpectedly brought together: one Thanksgiving, Betty’s Jacob’s Ladder plant fell into her gravy! The gravy was salvaged, but family members weren’t too sure about the plant. Although Betty’s busy lifestyle prevented her from attending church services, she had a strong belief in God and a great respect for Christian values. She was very supportive of her children’s involvement in religious services, often sending them to church with friends or neighbors on Sunday. Another aspect of her life to which Betty was unable to devote as much time as she would’ve liked, was maintaining her school day friendships. However, although she wasn’t in close contact with these people, Betty made a habit of scanning the newspaper for their names every week. Socially, Betty enjoyed her status as an active member of both the Rebecca Lodge and the Moose Lodge, which Claude was also involved in. Claude and Betty loved playing bingo as well, getting together with friends for a game three or four times a week.
After Claude’s retirement in 1975, the couple moved to a house on Murray Lake in North Eastern Kent County. Betty enjoyed both the serenity of the lake and rides on the pontoon boat. Claude liked to spend a lot of time fishing and Betty liked cooking and serving up whatever he caught. In 1997, after fifty-seven joyful years of marriage, Claude passed away. Betty took solace in her family, visiting her children regularly. Whenever a new grandchild was born, Betty was one of the first people to arrive at the hospital. She also had many animal friends throughout the years. After a long series of dogs, cats and birds, her children thought that she was finally finished with pets when her dog died recently. However, the stylists at her beauty salon gave her another dog who is still living in her home with her son Lonnie, after she mentioned how much she missed her old one! Since Betty had more free time, she was able to catch up with old acquaintances. She particularly enjoyed a high school reunion which she attended a few years ago. As she grew older, it became time for Betty to live in a nursing home. She took advantage of this quiet lifestyle to start attending church services at the home, making her peace with God. Last year Betty was baptized, an event which held great meaning for her.
Betty Datema died on March 6, 2004, at the age of eighty-one. She was preceded in death by her beloved husband, Claude Datema.
Betty’s family includes her children, Claude (Sally) Datema, Sharon (Roger) Hurley, Roger (Kathleen) Datema, Linda (Tom) Himebaugh, Lonnie Datema, and Dannie (Diane) Datema; twelve grandchildren; twenty-seven great-grandchildren; her sister, Leona VanNorden; and several nieces and nephews. She was a charter member of the Ladies of the Moose Lodge # 1388.
Friends may join the family for visitation from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. on Tuesday, at the Van Strein Creston Chapel, 1833 Plainfield N.E. Funeral and committal services will be held at the funeral chapel on Wednesday afternoon at 1 p.m. Interment will follow in Chapel Hill Memorial Gardens. To read Betty’s complete life story, share a memory, send flowers or make a memorial contribution to the Hospice of Michigan, please visit her personal webpage at www.lifestorynet.com.
Betty will be lovingly remembered for her kindness, her dependability and above all for her tender dedication to her family.