Betty McWilliams

Published 10:12 pm Wednesday, April 10, 2024

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Nov. 15, 1936-March 26, 2024


Betty Ann McWilliams, 87, of Dowagiac, passed away Tuesday, March 26, 2024, at Buchanan Meadows Assisted Living facility after a long illness with Alzheimer’s Disease.
Betty was born in Chicago, IL on Nov. 15, 1936, to Leo and Edith Rasmussen. Leo and Edith moved their family to Dowagiac in 1944. She was preceded in death by her sister Judy in 2017.
The Rasmussen family home was on the corner of Colby St. and Marcellus Highway in Dowagiac. Mom and her sister Judy would walk and take the bus to the Oak Street School (now Justus Gage Elementary). Eventually graduating from Dowagiac High School in 1954. During high school Betty worked part-time at Heddon’s. Which was a time when the “Decatur Boys” would venture over to Dowagiac, and where Betty met her future husband, Jim.
After graduating Betty enrolled at Western Michigan University. She did take a leave from W.M.U and went to work for the U.S. Navy department in Washington D.C. (while Jim was in the U.S. Army stationed there also). Betty graduated from W.M.U. in 1958 with a typing business degree. Several years later she went back to W.M.U. for her master’s degree graduating in 1965.
In 1959 she married Jim McWilliams of Decatur and made Dowagiac their home.
After a couple of different home locations, they finally settled on Bauer St where they lived from 1968 to 1984.
Betty was able to stay home and raise her two boys but also was interested in resuming a career where she worked teaching business typing and short-hand classes at Cassopolis High School and Southwestern Michigan College. She then worked as a vocational Counselor for Lewis Cass Intermediate School District.
In 1984 she and Jim converted the cottage at Magician Lake into their home and enjoyed many fun years living on the lake, enjoying the pontoon rides with many of their friends.
Several years later Betty was diagnosed with a rare heart condition then called Uhl’s Anomaly. She opted to be put on the list for a heart transplant. Then on February 7, 1989, she received a new heart at the Cleveland Clinic. She lived for another 35 years with her new heart. Truly one of life’s blessed events.
Betty was very proud of her Danish heritage, always reminding her kids that she was a full-blooded “Dane.” One very fun opportunity was when her two boys took her on a trip to Denmark where visiting cousins and other family members and touring the countryside was one of her cherished memories.
After retiring she and Jim did some traveling and wintered in Florida, Gulf Shores, Alabama eventually settling in Green Valley, Arizona for several months during the year.
In 2016 she and Jim said good-bye to Magician Lake and moved back into Dowagiac and lived on Sunset Dr., not very far from her childhood home.
Betty and Jim were married for 63 years. Surviving are her two sons — Jim McWilliams of Traverse City and Brian (Carolyn) McWilliams of Rockport, MA; six grandchildren — Daniel, Megan, Scott, Nathan, Talia, and Gavin; and several nephews, nieces and extended family.
Her family would like to thank all the health care professionals and wonderful staff at Forest Glen Assisted Living, Buchanan Meadows and Heartland Hospice over the past several years.
A Celebration of Life service will be held at 11 a.m., on Saturday, April 27, 2024, at the Clark Chapel-Starks Family Funeral Homes, 405 Center Street, Dowagiac, where friends may visit with the family from 10 a.m., until the time of services. A luncheon at the Dowagiac Elks Lodge #889, 300 Riverside Drive, will be held immediately following the ceremony. A private burial will follow at the Lakeside Cemetery in Decatur, MI. Please visit Betty’s personalized webpage to share a memory or leave a condolence to her family at