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Obituaries » Irene M. Tetzlaff

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March 16, 1921 - April 25, 2017

Irene’s cremated remains will be buried with her husband at Ft. Custer National Cemetery. A celebration of life gathering will be arranged by the family this summer.

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Age 96, passed away peacefully at Bronson Methodist Hospital on Tuesday, April 25, 2017 after a brief bout with pneumonia. Irene was born in a farmhouse near Maple Rapids, Michigan, on March 16, 1921, the daughter of Leon Frank and Carrie Marie (Cutter) Hicks. As a teenager, she was adopted into the family of Dr. Harold Arthur and Florence Bedient. In 1938, Irene graduated from Maple Rapids High School, then moved to Kalamazoo and earned a baccalaureate from Bronson School of Nursing in 1941. On July 22, 1942 she was united in marriage to Clare Arthur Tetzlaff, whom she met at a restaurant in Kalamazoo. Irene grew up during the Great Depression and lived through World War II – as a member of the Greatest Generation, her commitment to duty, personal responsibility, and community service shone brightly throughout her life. Professionally, during and after the War, Irene worked as a private duty registered nurse. As a volunteer, Irene devoted her time to the Red Cross (over 30 years), Meals on Wheels (25 years), Kalamazoo County Juvenile Court (5 years), and many other organizations. With her husband Clare, she was a Charter Member of the Westwood United Methodist Church (WUMC), founded in 1955. As an active member of the WUMC Women’s Society, she often ran the kitchen for church events and worked rummage sales, potlucks, and church bazaars. Her experience with Clare building their own house in the Arcadia neighborhood of Kalamazoo served her well when she volunteered to repair homes in Kentucky and Tennessee as part of the Appalachia Service Project. In 1995, Irene was honored with the Helen Coover Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of her exemplary commitment to volunteerism. An avid nature lover, she enjoyed bird watching, camping, and gardening, passions that she passed on to her children. As a member of the Grow and Show Garden Club, her dedication was rewarded with a lifetime membership to Michigan Garden Clubs. Clare and Irene enjoyed 58 years of adventures, traveling to Machu Picchu, Rio de Janeiro, Colombia, London, Hawaii and destinations all over the United States before his death on October 12, 2000. Irene is survived by her brothers, Phil Bedient, Ellis (Letha) Hicks and Ken (Shirle) Bedient; children, Toni (Gus Rappaport) Lewman, Jan Elliott and Lee (Chris Stratton) Tetzlaff; grandchildren, Heidi (Bryan) Ahler, Ben Elliott and Jodi (James Watson) Elliott; and great-grandchildren, Reece Ahler, Caden Ahler, Grace Elliott, Gwenn Elliott, Will Elliott, August Watson, Leif Watson and Zoe Watson. She was preceded in death by her siblings, Robert, Ruth, Oral, Orval, Harold, Art, Jack and Jane, and her son-in-law Bill Elliott. Also surviving her are three dear friends, Jeanette Jupp, Helen Lancaster and Beth Shirley.