On November 9, 2021, Bette Margaret Richardson left this world to go to Heaven. Our Lord let her stay here for 103 years so that anyone who was around her could be blessed by her love, faith and joy.
Bette was born May 30th, 1918, in Ft. Wayne, Indiana to Mr. and Mrs. John Manes. Tragically, both parents died when she was quite young. She was sent to an orphanage with her four brothers. Three of them ran away from there while her youngest brother was too little to leave. Bette was adopted by Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Baushke of Benton Harbor, Michigan when she was about four years old. When they arrived in her new town, her adoptive parents felt a calling to return to the orphanage to adopt her brother as well. Soon, they returned only to find someone else had adopted him in the interim. It took over 40 years for a writer of the Benton Harbor News-Palladium newspaper to take up Bette’s story and search for her siblings. In her late 40’s, Bette was reunited with her brothers Charles (Chick), George, Kenny and John.
Bette attended Benton Harbor High School and then studied at Hillsdale College for a year. Due to a family crisis, she had to leave college and her dreams of being a poet, writer and artist to return home. She worked as a secretary in a soda bottling company. Bette’s drawing talents were noticed by Carson Pirie Scott & Company in Chicago. They invited her to become an artist for their fashion design advertising. Unfortunately, she could not take that position either.
When Bette was 23 years old, she moved to Paw Paw, Michigan where she met Lester Richardson. It must have been love at first sight because a mere three months later, they married. They had three sons, Art, Perry and Ritch. Bette and Lester’s marriage lasted for 35 years until Lester tragically died. She remained a strong and spirited widow for the remainder of the last forty years of her life.
Nature and its amazing animals were Bette’s joy. She loved horses, having one in her youthful years. She almost always had a pet, usually a dog. Lake Michigan and its beaches were her solace. Bette was more content to remain at home rather than travel. Her family and community were all that she needed to be happy. Bette lived sacrificially, giving up much of life’s pleasures so that she could help provide for her children. Both she and her husband lived modestly, yet their children never were without. Even the home that they lived in their entire marriage was built by Lester. She was a fierce and fearless advocate and defender of her three sons, especially for her special needs child.
Belief in a loving Creator God and Savior Jesus was Bette’s firm foundation. She actively participated in her churches, Bible studies, serving in community welfare centers and tithing with her small earnings of grape picking. She enjoyed this activity with her kids, teaching them the value of hard work. Most importantly, Bette embodied all what St. Paul called in Galatians 5:22-23, “The fruit of the Spirit… Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Her greatest gift she gave to her three sons was her Christian faith. They learned to believe by what she taught them, but mostly by what she showed them in her li
Bette is survived by her three sons: Arthur, in Portage, MI; Perry, in Paw Paw, MI with grandson Evan, and Dr. Lester “Ritch” in Overland Park, KS. His wife is Diane with grandchildren, Nikki, Leann and Keith. Those three have provided Bette’s soon-to-be six great grandchildren. It appears this chapter of our lives closes: Her first grandchild, Nikki, was born one day after the sudden death of Bette’s husband. Now, Bette leaves just before her last great-grandchild will be born, a son to Keith…and the family name goes on. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5
Due to the ongoing Covid pandemic, a private graveside service will be held with plans for a memorial gathering next Spring. In lieu of flowers, please consider Residential Opportunities, Inc. in Kalamazoo, MI. www.residentialopportunities.org
“Then [her] Master said to [her], ‘Well done, good and faithful servant…enter into the joy of your Master.” Matthew 25:23. Rest well, Mom until we embrace again.
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