Tuesday, July 12, 2016
10:00 AM to 11:00 AM EDT
First Evangelical Lutheran Church
1206 Whitehall Road
Muskegon, MI 49445
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.
First Evangelical Lutheran Church
1206 Whitehall Road
Muskegon, MI 49445
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Betty Vera Ropp had learned many lessons over the course of her life, many of them through challenging experiences, and she carried that wisdom with her throughout the years. Despite the difficulties that came her way, she had persevered and served as an example of persistence and strength to the two girls she raised as well as others who knew her story. At the same time, her compassion and empathy were evident in the way she cared for her loved ones.
When Betty was born on September 5, 1921, it had been barely a year since women in the United States had been granted the right to vote. World War I had ended, but peace was tenuous, and Prohibition had recently gone into effect. Her parents, Russell and Katherine (Byard) Hollenbeck, were living in Muskegon, Michigan, at the time, and her father was a mason. When Betty was still a young girl, her mother left the family. Betty had two dear aunts, Marie Peterson and Vera Holthe, who helped Russell raise her. The Hollenbecks moved a few times and then settled in a home on Franklin Street. Betty went to nearby Nims Elementary, and the family attended McGraft Memorial Congregational Church where Betty was baptized.
When Betty was eight, the Stock Market Crash of ‘29 sent the world’s economy into a tailspin. Everyone had to tighten their belts, and so while her childhood was basically typical, she learned some life lessons about pitching in and making do with what she had. Those lessons about hard work, independence, and frugality stayed with her for her entire life. She attended Muskegon High School, but, like many of her peers, left after the eleventh grade in order to work.
Betty’s mother lived in Chicago and the two of them kept in contact. On one of her visits, Betty was able to attend the 1933-1934 World’s Fair entitled “A Century of Progress.” There were many remarkable inventions on display and Betty was excited that she was able to be a part of it. For her sixteenth birthday, Betty’s mother gave her a bicycle. Betty kept that bike for the rest of her life.
Betty got a job at Walgreens in downtown Muskegon and later as an elevator operator in the Lyman Building. While she was busy building her adult life, there were worrisome things going on in the world. Europe was at war and shortly after Betty’s twentieth birthday, she heard the news of the bombing of Pearl Harbor and that the United States would be joining the Allies for the remainder of World War II.
Not only was the world changing at a remarkable pace, but Betty’s personal life was also on the verge of change. She met a man named Donald Monroe who was from the small northwestern town of Honor, Michigan, not far from Sleeping Bear National Park. They fell in love and were married. Betty was delighted at the arrival of their firstborn child, Sandra, in 1944, and their second, Carol, in 1945. Much as she had when she was a girl, the Monroe’s moved around some before settling in Muskegon. Their marriage ended in the mid-1950s.
Betty worked at Muskegon Piston Rings as well as other jobs she could find in order to provide for her daughters. It wasn’t easy, but she was determined and her love for the girls spurred her on. After a time, she met a man named Willard Ropp. Bill worked at Continental Motors and then later as a bus driver, and he and Betty shared some common interests. They exchanged vows on July 7, 1956.
Betty again attended McGraft Memorial with her family, but now as an adult. It was an important part of her life and it was a privilege to watch the girls grow up in the same church she had. After Sandra and Carol had grown, Betty started working for Muskegon Public Schools as a custodian. She worked there for sixteen years until her retirement in 1984.
Betty and Bill never stayed in one house too long. Every time they moved into a new place, they would remodel it and make some improvements, then move to a different home. One thing that was always the same, though, was Betty’s beautiful garden that she tended at every new home. She was a talented gardener and it brought her great joy.
Besides remodeling houses, Betty and Bill enjoyed the local music scene together. The Scottville Clown Band and the Silverado Band were among their favorites. They would swing by to see them at local parks, the Muskegon Heights Eagles, and the Moose Lodge. When Bill’s struggle with diabetes worsened, Betty stayed by his side. She did everything she could to make him comfortable and they stayed together till the end. Betty was heartbroken when Bill died in 1989, but she looked to those things which had always brought her joy and persevered through her sadness.
Betty enjoyed other hobbies besides gardening. She loved going dancing with friends and listening to music. When her friends struggled with health issues, she was there for them, with a caring and spirit of kindness that was encouraging and unique. She was an avid reader and never missed an article in the newspaper. When she had time, she enjoyed romance novels. Her very favorite pastime was doting on her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She called them her “dolls” and always made time for them.
Betty lived alone in her own house into her nineties, consistently keeping up with her garden and often sharing flowers with friends. Eventually her eyesight started to fail and she moved into a senior living facility, Sanctuary at the Oaks. The transition wasn’t easy, but she found things to like about it there and liked having a room by the main entrance so she could see what was happening. She enjoyed participating in all the events and especially the musical performers.
Betty retained her strength of mind and good health throughout the years. At the end, physically her heart grew weak, but her determination and especially her affection for her family never, ever faded. She leaves them with many fond memories and the assurance of her genuine, unconditional love.
Betty died on Thursday, July 7, 2016, at the age of ninety-four. She is survived by her daughters, Sandra Kay Fisher of Norton Shores and Carol (David) Anderson of Muskegon; grandchildren: Brian (Lita) Fisher, Lori (William) Hunter, and Jeff (Kristine) Anderson; and seven great-grandchildren, Nephew, Bill Ropp and niece Bonnie Benton. She was preceded in death by her husband, Bill, and son-in-law, Wade Fisher.
A memorial service will be held on Tuesday, July 12, 2016, at 11:00 a.m. at First Evangelical Lutheran Church with Rev. William Uetricht officiating. Visitation will be one hour prior to the service. Interment will be in Restlawn Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to the First Evangelical Lutheran Church. Please visit www.clockfuneralhome.com to leave a memory or sign the online guest book.