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Kathleen Caywood, 87

Kathleen Caywood, age 87, of Sturgis, peacefully passed away Wednesday morning, May 29, at Thurston Woods Nursing Center, surrounded by her faith and the love of her family.
As Kathleen recently said, “I have lived a good life.” That was certainly true. She was born in early March, 1933, to Peter and Irene Miller. After graduation from Constantine High School, she moved to Sturgis with her parents and her sister, Jeanene. It was there, while working as a teller at Citizen’s State Bank, she met a young pharmacy student, Jim Bogart, whom she would later marry in July 1954. After Jim graduated from Butler University, they moved to Buchanan where Jim worked, making his way as a new pharmacist. They had two daughters, Mary and Lynn. Tragedy struck the young couple when Jim passed in June of 1961 after a hard-fought battle with cancer. Kathleen packed up her girls and moved to Kalamazoo to begin her studies at Western Michigan University to become a teacher. She later moved to Sturgis, where she could be closer to her parents, both of whom cared for her and the girls while Kathleen commuted back and forth.
After graduating from WMU, Kathleen began teaching at Fawn River School, later moved to Wenzel Elementary and eventually landed at Congress Elementary where she taught fourth grade and later became a reading consultant. Kathleen was the consummate educator. She was presented with the John Oster Award in recognition of her outstanding work with children. It seems that her former students could be found all over town: at the pharmacy, as a neighbor to her daughter, in the hospital lab, at the Thurston Woods Nursing Center, in SPS classrooms and more. Each one had a fond memory of her classroom activities from classroom luaus to pickles as gifts, to following in her footsteps by becoming top-notch educators themselves.
One summer, while painting the trim on her house, she struck up a conversation with a young man painting the house next door. Even though she was in her ‘painting dress,’ she still caught the eye of Ned Caywood. After a short courtship, they married in November of 1968. Ned and his son, Tim, moved in with Kathleen and the girls, forming a blended family that lived happily together for many, many years.
In her long and varied life, Kathleen was involved in many community activities. She could often be seen with Ned, popping corn in the lobby of the hospital, volunteering with patients or at the front desk. She was a devoted member of the First United Methodist Church, where she would help to prepare for the church’s rummage sale, or volunteer in other capacities. She would often get together with her ‘Communion Group’ after church, or at other times during the week, extending their fellowship outside of Sunday mornings.
Kathleen’s children would often joke that she came from a long line of ‘feeders’ as food often became the focus of get togethers with her extended family. Kathleen carried on the tradition from her grandmother, mother and sister of feeding her family favorites: Her ‘famous’ noodles, her pumpkin pie, holiday cut-out cookies and, at every special occasion, a bowl of punch. Even on camping trips with her beloved grandchildren, Grandma would prepare for days, making the kids’ favorite foods and ‘roughing it’ with s’mores around a camp fire.
It was at the family cottage, Happy Landing, on Klinger Lake where so, so many happy memories were made. Kathleen would take the children on a hunt for Willy Lump Lump, a (mythical?) imp who lived on and around the lake. Once, while she and her grandchildren were searching for him behind a cottage, a curious neighbor came to ask what was going on. Without missing a beat, Kathleen said, “”We are looking for Willy Lump Lump. Have you seen him?”” And the gentleman quickly replied, “”I saw him a bit ago. I think he went further down the stream.”” Gatherings with Jeanene and her family at Happy Landing, or anywhere for that matter, meant tons of people, tons of children, tons of food and tons of fun. Kathleen would revel in the love and companionship of the extended family whom she held so close to her heart.
Although Kathleen had many loves, none were as great as the love for her family. She always, always put their security and happiness above all else. She loved to travel with Ned, who passed in May, 2016, often taking bus and train trips with him all over the United States and Canada. Her children, and especially her grandchildren, were a great source of joy, sharing in their accomplishments and encouraging them to always do their very best and to pursue every dream.
Kathleen was an amazing mother, wife, grandmother, sister, aunt and friend. She set the very best example for all who came into her life. She welcomed strangers with open arms and an open heart. She loved unconditionally. She passed on her strength and her perseverance to her family, and for that we will be forever grateful. At the end of Kathleen’s journal entries, she would list one thing she was grateful for: her family, a warm bed, dear friends or the opportunities life presented to her. As Kathleen said, she lived a good life. We should all be that lucky.
Kathleen is survived by her children Janet (Michael) Allison, Tim (Cindy) Caywood, Mary Bogart, and Lynn (David) Brand, grandchildren Kathy (Gary) Ashley, Kari (Jeff) Smith, Isaac Brand, Anna Brand, Rebecca (Nick) Galvan and Mitchell Caywood, her sister, Jeanene Lewis and many nieces and nephews and great-grandchildren.
The family will receive visitors at the Hackman Family Funeral Home’s Rosenberg Chapel, 807 East Chicago Road on Saturday, June 1 from 2 to 5. A celebration of Kathleen’s life will take place on Monday, June 3 at 10 am at the First United Methodist Church. A graveside committal will take place at a later date.
Instead of flowers, the family suggests a lasting gift in Kathleen’s name to either the Sturgis Public Schools Endowment Fund, c/o The Sturgis Foundation 310 N. Franks Avenue, Sturgis, Michigan or the Thurston Woods Nursing Center, 307 S. Franks Avenue, Sturgis, Michigan.
The family would like to sincerely thank the staff at Thurston Woods Nursing Center for the compassionate and devoted care they gave to Kathleen. We will be forever grateful to them for making her last journey more comfortable with a warm blanket, a gentle touch, a kind smile, a comforting word, a hair ‘finger fluff’ and for making a sad a difficult time a bit easier for those of us who loved her.
The obituary is also at www.hackmanfamilyfuneralhomes.com where personal messages of support may be left for the family.

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