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.
Fig and Friends Pet Rescue
Golden Retriever Recue
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
With a warm smile, loving compassion, and an open heart, Brenda Lynn Billings-Middleton lived a life rich in family and friends. A deep thinker who genuinely loved people, Brenda was outgoing and connected deeply with others. Even in the grocery line, she could strike up a meaningful conversation that was sure to leave a lasting impression. Regardless of life's challenges, Brenda quickly found joy and generously shared her unwavering hope, endless compassion, and loyal friendship. In sharing her experience, strength, and hope, Brenda provided a safe harbor for others as well as inspiration that freedom and happiness were possible. A powerful role model for how to live a wholehearted life, Brenda will be fondly remembered and deeply missed.
With the Great Depression and WWII firmly in the past, 1960 centered around family and welcoming more Baby Boomers. Jobs were abundant, and simple things like buying a home and raising children became the focus for most. Whether catching a ball game or watching TV, family time was the goal, and hope for the future the norm. It was with this sense of hope that Robert and Virginia (Merical) Billings welcomed their daughter Brenda to their family on June 11.
Growing up in West Michigan, Brenda's early years were filled with activity. Her half-brother, Harold "Hal," was ten years older, and her older brother, by a year and a half, Brett, shared many good times. Brenda's father was an insurance salesman, a gentleman farmer, and a truck driver, and her mother was a business and economics professor at Aquinas College. The family attended the local Lutheran Church, and their acreage was in Montcalm Co, near Greenville, Michigan. In time, the family moved to a lakeside home on Clifford Lake.
During high school, Brenda worked for Sears as a catalog girl. After graduating from Montcalm County High School with the class of 1977, Brenda attended the University of Michigan before transferring to Aquinas College. A strong student, Brenda earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration in 1982. After passing her CPA test, she began working for BDO Seidman, a national accounting firm in Grand Rapids, before securing a position with the Michigan Department of Treasury. She worked for the state as a CPA for 25 years and was well-known by her colleagues for her competency, excellence, and warmth. Committed to continuous growth, Brenda earned three different Master's degrees. The first was a Master of Business Administration from Grand Valley State University in 1998. Then, she earned a Master of Science in Taxation from GVSU in 2005.
Though a gifted accountant, accounting was never her passion. Her passion was helping people in crises. Determined to follow her calling, she earned a Master of Social Work degree from Western Michigan University. Drawn to support people facing mental health challenges, she generously gave her time and talents. With tremendous compassion and empathy, she possessed the rare ability to re-frame their situations, moving them into healthy experiences while dealing with the past. She served her internship with Network 180, a Kent County Mental Health office helping those seeking help with substance abuse, mental health, or intellectual challenges as a peer support coach. After which, she worked for the organization for a short time before working for Muskegon Community Mental Health.
In 1987, while attending an Alcoholics Anonymous Convention, Brenda met the love of her life, Grant Middleton, as they volunteered as greeters. Brenda and Grant had both found the gift of sobriety through AA and hit it off at a convention after-party they both attended on Lake Michigan. A few months later, they reconnected at a Halloween Party at the North Alano Club, and their romance ignited. On June 30, 1990, the happy couple married at Trinity Lutheran Church in Grand Rapids. After exchanging their vows, they celebrated their joy with family and friends at a reception at Gerribee Party Place, a local reception hall. They enjoyed two honeymoons, first traveling to The Palace on Mackinac Island and then exploring Disney World's Magic Kingdom.
The newlyweds settled into their home on Tremont Blvd NW and enjoyed 33 years of adventure together. These included taking fifteen cruises together and sharing the simple blessings of the day. Whether cruising Alaska, Hawaii, or the Caribbean or enjoying quiet times at home, Brenda and Grant shared a deep connection sourced by love, respect, equanimity, and compassionate care. This was especially evident when Grant's health challenge inspired Brenda to leave her career and dedicate herself to becoming his full-time care provider.
While outgoing, Brenda was equally comfortable in her own good company and with her thoughts and feelings. Tending to her flowers and vegetables was her heart's delight. She loved watching movies like Harry Potter and the Twilight series and reading cheesy romance novels well into the night. She also loved her pets, most notably Rusty, Bridget, and Coach the Cat. A fine meal at Charley's Crab or a sweet treat from Sandy's Donuts were favorites too.
Though our days with Brenda were far too few, every moment we shared with her is a treasure we will long hold dear. Brenda embodied the principles she believed in, showing us at every turn how to trust in a higher power, our own goodness, and the strength of sharing true companionship with others. May we find much comfort in our many wonderful memories and in the honor of carrying her legacy of love and generosity forward. In every moment we choose faith over fear, connection over isolation, to give of ourselves in service of others, and find joy in even the darkest moments, we celebrate the many ways Brenda gifted our lives. In this way, her beautiful spirit will continue to inspire others as she so inspired us.
Brenda Lynn Billings-Middleton, age 62, peacefully passed away in the comfort of her beloved husband on May 22, 2023. Brenda was born June 11, 1960, in Greenville, MI, to the late Robert and Virginia (Merical) Billings. She was also preceded in death by her brother, Brett Billings. Brenda graduated from the University of Michigan, Aquinas College, Grand Valley State University, and Western Michigan University. She was employed with the Michigan Department of Treasury, Network 180, and Muskegon Community Mental Health. Brenda was a member of the North Alano Club. On June 30, 1990, she married Grant Middleton, who survives. Also surviving are her nephew, Nikolay Allen; niece, Katerina Kononova-Billings; half-brother, Harold Billings; and other nieces, nephews, and in-laws. According to her wishes, cremation has taken place. A memorial service will be held Friday, June 2, 2023, at 3 PM at Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel, 2120 Lake Michigan Drive NW. Friends may visit starting at 2 PM, and a reception will be held after the service. Memorials may be made to Fig and Friends Pet Rescue or Golden Retriever Rescue. To read more of Brenda's life story and leave a memory or condolence, please visit www.heritagelifestory.com.