Charlene Fuller Obituary & Funeral | Kalamazoo, MI | Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes (2024)


Quiet and extremely independent, Charlene Fuller sometimes chose to fade into the background, content to people-watch from a distance. Everyone who had the privilege of knowing Charlene, however, soon realized that she was anything but bland. Creative and energetic, warm-hearted, giving, and above all devoted to her family, Charlene spent her life taking care of those she loved best in the world.

Charlene was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin, but only lived there a brief time before the family moved to Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Then, when Charlene was eight years old, the family moved to what would be Charlene’s lifelong home – Kalamazoo, Michigan. Charlene’s mother, Aletta Hiddema, stayed at home to raise the children, while Mr. Hiddema owned a shoe store in town. Charlene was the oldest of the Hiddema girls, with two younger sisters, Janice and Muriel. When the time came for her to go to school, she attended the local Kalamazoo schools. In 1953, Charlene graduated from Kalamazoo Central High School and worked at the Upjohn Company until the birth of her first child.

Just a few months after graduation, Charlene became engaged to her high school sweetheart, Bob Fuller. The young couple was united in matrimony on November 22, 1953, at the North Park Reformed Church. Over the years, Charlene and Bob were blessed by the births of four children: Mike, Vicki, Debbie and Sheri. Charlene was a wonderful mother, who always put family first. When the children were young, she stayed at home to take care of them. After the youngest went to school, Charlene got a job working in the school lunchroom. This way, she not only could be home to meet them when they got out of school, but could also keep a friendly eye on their activities during the day! Sadly, Charlene and Bob divorced in 1975. Charlene never remarried, content to focus on fulfilling relationships with her children, mother, sisters, and grandchildren.

After her children no longer stood in the lines of the school cafeteria, Charlene moved on to work at the Eaton Corporation. A few years later, she became a clerk at the Secretary of State Office. In her free time, Charlene loved to do domestic crafts. Nimble-fingered and energetic, she would typically learn a new craft, master it, then become bored and move on to the next challenge. Church was also very important in Charlene’s life, and she faithfully attended services every Sunday. She has been a member of Calvary Bible Church and Kalamazoo Covenant Church, and in recent years belonged to the Kalamazoo Community Church. Although very domestic, Charlene was definitely not one to sit at home. An avid traveler, she went to North Carolina and Florida every year. Her sister lived in North Carolina, and the two loved shopping and visiting the flea markets during Charlene’s visits. Charlene was also able to travel to Hawaii, Mexico, Germany and to the Holy Land – twice!

In 1996, Charlene happily retired from the Secretary of State Office. Although she loved the work, she was ready to move on to a new phase in her own life. Retirement did not mean inactivity for Charlene, and she always kept herself busy. Her happiest moments were spent with her grandchildren: Melissa, Shelby, Zachariah, Evan and Sarah. She always attended their events, and loved to spoil them. Charlene could also frequently be spotted on the South Haven beach, basking in the sunlight and people-watching. Inevitably sporting a deep tan by the end of the summer, Charlene was usually one of the first people on the beach each year, often arriving when the snow fence was still up! At home, Charlene cared for Dusty, a cat who was mean to almost everyone she met, but who had a soft spot in her heart for Charlene.

Ten years ago, Charlene broke her arm. Although she recovered from the injury, it took a toll on her health, and she seemed to slow down. After successfully battling a series of health problems in the following years, Charlene suffered a heart attack six weeks ago. Unable to recover from this final blow, she passed away at Borgess Medical Center.

Active and independent, loyal and big-hearted, Charlene Fuller was a loving sister and daughter, a devoted mother and grandmother, and a true friend. She will be deeply missed and lovingly remembered by her many friends and family members.

Charlene’s family includes her children, Mike (Jackie) Fuller, Vicki Fuller, Debbie Ellis and Sheri Dillon; her grandchildren, Chris, Melissa, Shelby, Zachariah, Evan and Sarah; her sisters, Janice (Jack) Hoogendoorn and Muriel (Jack) Westra; her mother, Aletta Hiddema; and many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her father, Monte Hiddema and her son-in-law, Joseph Dillon. Memorials may be made to the Comstock Community Center. Please visit Charlene’s personal memory page at, where you can learn more about her life, archive a photo or memory, and sign the online guestbook.


Charlene Fuller Obituary & Funeral | Kalamazoo, MI | Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes (2024)


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