Elizabeth “Betty” Ann LaFave, age 87, of Gladstone, MI, passed away with serenity and peace into the arms of Jesus on Monday, June 7, 2021 at Sunny View Adult Foster Care Home inGladstone, MI.
Betty was born October 10, 1933, in Escanaba, the daughter of Thomas and Alphonsine (Fonsie Houle) St. Jacques. Betty was born and raised in Escanaba, MI. She graduated from 9th grade at St. Anne’s Parochial School in 1948 and then graduated fromEscanaba High School in the class of 1951.
After graduation Betty worked as a nurse’s aid at Saint Francis hospital. She married her high school sweetheart and neighbor Ralph LaFave Sr. on May 17th 1952 at Saint Ann’s chapel located in the Saint Anne’s parochial school. They had celebrated 55 years together before Ralph passed away on Dec. 3, 2007.
Betty & Ralph lived in Escanaba where their 8 children were born until Feb. 29, 1964 when they purchased a home on Wisconsin Avenue in Gladstone where they owned their business, Shaw Dry Cleaners. They lived in their “big corner house” until Dec. 1999 when they moved to the Lake Bluff Retirement Village on the Gladstone bluff. Betty remained in their home until Dec. 2019 when she moved to Sunny View AFC Home.
Betty was a very active member of All Saints Catholic Church in Gladstone. In 1973 when the All
Saints School closed, she was one of the 1st volunteers to be trained to teach CCD classes and did so for 28 yrs. until 2001. She served as Eucharistic Minister from 1987 – 2013 and on the Parish Council Executive Board as the Chairperson of the Social Life Commission for 3 yrs. from 2001 – 2004 and volunteered at many church functions throughout the years retiring from most in 2010. Betty was very active in the Parish Bible Study Group and was a member of the Saturday Morning Blue Army Rosary Group and The Charismatic Hearts of Praise Group. These groups and their members held a special place in her heart as did her love of scripture. She could never get enough of it. While serving on the Parish Bible Study Board, she came across a favorite quote “When you romance the Word you fall in love with God and come to know Jesus intimately in your heart.” How true that was in her personal life as she gave many bibles as gifts to others and always included a special Bible verse in the many cards and notes she sent. She was a gifted letter writer and enjoyed composing special notes & poems.
Betty worked as a waitress at the Stardust Lounge in Escanaba in the late 1950’s. She worked at the Harnischfeger factory in Escanaba during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s as an insulation cutter. She didn’t mind the work but wasn’t happy being away from her children. In 1973, after much prayer, she opened an Adult Foster Care Home within her home. Betty cared for a total of 51 elderly people in the 22 yrs. her AFC Home was open. She gave God the credit for giving her a vocation she enjoyed and enabled her to be home to raise her children. In December 2002, through the Community Action Agency, she volunteered as a Senior Companion. She was very dedicated to her clients who became her friends. After nearly 8 yrs., she retired in March 2009.
Betty bowled in the Women’s National League in Gladstone and the Summer Night League in Escanaba. She took a class to learn to play bridge and enjoyed going to & hosting many bridge game nights. Betty enjoyed cooking and trying new recipes and in her earlier days she loved to entertain and have luncheon and dinner parties. Her home was usually the gathering place for many different holidays and special occasions in life. Late in life through the enthusiasm of her daughter-in-law Angel she got involved watching the Green Bay Packers. Her favorite player was Brett Farve with whom she shared a birthdate. She was also a big fan of Notre Dame football.
Betty had many dear nieces and nephews who were very special to her as well as her sister-in-law and lifelong friend Dorothy St. Jacques. Betty also had many classmates that remained lifelong friends as well as her special church family friends too numerous to mention by name.
In addition to her husband Ralph, Betty was preceded in death by her parents; Fonzie (Nov. 1945) and Thomas (Aug. 1951)St.Jacques. Her four brothers; Raymond (infant, July 1920), Gerald (July. 1988), William (Jan. 1989), and Robert (Nov. 1985) St.Jacques and her only sister Marceline (St. Jacques)Westerberg (April 1990). Also, her very dear Aunt, Sister Mary Speciosa (Eva Houle) OSF of Milwaukee, WI. Her newborn son Thomas (April 1954), daughter Jean (LaFave) Andrew (Nov. 2016) and two grandsons; Samuel Derouin (infant, May 1993) and Matthew Bengston (Sept. 1997). She is also preceded in death by her sisters-in-law Lillian St.Jacques, Mary St.Jacques and brother-in-law Carl (Cully) Westberg. Father and mother-in-law Irvin (Dec. 1978) and Elizabeth (Dec. 1987)LaFave. Brothers/sisters-in-law, Lawrence and Gertrude(LaFave) Boudreau, Edsel and Lorraine (LaFave) Bedard and Emery and Mildred LaFave.
Betty is survived by six of her children; Debra (Keith) Bengston and Ralph (Kim) LaFave Jr. of Gladstone, J. Scott (Kelly) LaFave of Littleton, CO, James (Angel) LaFave of Schenectady, NY, Joan (James) Ball of Stonington, Patricia (Charles) Derouinof Escanaba and her son-in-law Mark (Cathy) Andrew of Marquette.
In addition to her children Betty is survived by 14 grandchildren: Joye (Eric) Clute, Cynna (Troy) Sinnaeve, Ralph (Christa) LaFave III, Adam LaFave, Holly (Chad) Cramblet, Michelle, Luc and Devin LaFave, Anthony (Mame) Andrew, Elizabeth Querio, Jessica (Clayton) Castor, Robert (fiancée Julie) Caliguri, Brad Derouin and Rachel Derouin.
Her 14 great-grandchildren: Kayden Lechtanski, Liam Clute, Carter Sinnaeve, Milo Cramblet, Liam & Alicia Andrew, Mason & Lennon Querio, Reece, Rane, Lahna & Sophia Castor, Ryleigh Derouin and Camyden Vanderwegen.
Her sister-in-law Dorothy St.Jacques of Susanville, CA and in-laws Robert (Linda) LaFave of Escanaba. Betty is also survived by many dear nieces and nephews.
Betty’s final wish was to leave this spiritual food for thought which was one of her many favorites: ” If you fed your body as often as you feed your soul, how hungry would you be? Do you have spiritual anorexia?”
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 NAS
“For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and that is the victory that has overcome the world – our Faith. And who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” 1 John 5:4 – 5 NAS
Betty’s family would like to give special thanks to the caring staff of Sunny View AFC Home, Julie, Tricia, Gail and Debbie. OSF Hospice’s entire staff, especially Rachel RN, was also wonderful in caring for Betty and their commitment to serving all aspects of their patients and their families’ needs during these difficult times is commendable.
Family will receive friends on Thurs. June 17, 2021 at the Skradski Funeral Home in Gladstone, MI with visitation from 3:30 – 5:30. A Mass of Christian Burial honoring Betty will follow visitation at 6:00 PM at All Saints Catholic Church with Rev. Fr. Rob Jurkovich officiating. A luncheon will follow at Lake Bluff Retirement Village Community Center, 401 Kenneally Blvd., Gladstone, MI. Elizabeth will be laid to rest in the Fernwood Cemetery on Friday June 18, 2021.
Memorials can be donated to one of these three charities that were always lovingly supported by Betty. “Blue Army Rosary, P.O. Box 895, Escanaba, MI 49829; St. Vincent De Paul Society of Gladstone, 816 Delta Ave., Gladstone, MI 49837; All Saints Church, P.O. Box 392, Gladstone, MI 49837