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Betty Jean Forte, of Clinton Township, passed away on October 10, 2023, two months before her 100th birthday. She was born in Detroit, December 31, 1923, the youngest daughter of the late George and Hazel Bonning. She is survived by her four children, who were her pride and joy: Kathleen Forte (the late John Broderick), JoAnn Neill (Jim), Paul Forte (Nancy) and Nancy Smith (Richard). She leaves behind eight grandchildren, Jimmy Neill, Julie Hogan (Mike), Jonathan Neill (Juliet), Hilary Gordon (Matt), Michelle Dean, Corey Smith (Nichole), Kimberly Forte (Natan Harel) and Shane Smith (Abbi), and fifteen great-grandchildren and nephews Robert King (Lynn) and George King.
Betty’s’ early years were spent in the midst of the Great Depression. With strength and determination her family survived difficult conditions in order to feed and house the family. Because of this, Betty developed lifelong skills of thriftiness, dependability and self-sacrifice. When Betty married Joe Forte that determination to provide for family led them to form a fledgling company, G. Forte Company, masonry contractor. Joe did the masonry work. Betty, while raising her young family, handled the business of keeping the books, writing correspondence and doing payroll. Over the years, as the business grew and flourished, Betty devoted herself full time to her true love – taking care of her family.
Betty had many talents that she generously shared. She immortalized her mother-in-law’s spaghetti sauce recipe. It is now known as Gram’s spaghetti and is a family favorite in the homes of her children and grandchildren. After cooking her last batch, the quest for the treasured wooden spoon, used to measure ingredients, was won by youngest daughter, Nancy. She was also an accomplished seamstress. Her creations ranged from prom dresses, a brocade prom coat to embellished jeans. She was the “go-to” person for all repairs and alterations including jean zippers, shortened hems and grandchildren’s blanky restorations.
One of her greatest labors of love was to sew and hand embroider an individual Christmas stocking for her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Pieces of felt were painstakingly cut, then hand sewn in place. Faces of Santa and snowmen were beautifully and delicately hand embroidered while trains and Christmas trees were embellished with sequins and beads.
Though Betty made trips to many states and countries, her favorite place was her second home in Venice, Florida. Family and friends spent time together collecting shells and shark teeth while walking along the beach. A jigsaw puzzle sat on the table while board and card games filled the evening. But Betty’s greatest Florida pleasure was to sit quietly on her lanai in the late afternoon, watching the sun sink slowly in the sky then gradually disappear below the horizon of the Gulf’s waters.
Betty always reached out to family and friends with cards and notes, never ever forgetting a special day. For every birthday, anniversary or special occasion, Betty sent a carefully chosen card with her personal thoughts written in her beautiful calligraphic handwriting. She so delighted in the time with others that she often captured them in a picture. No matter the size of the visit, from two visitors in her living room to thirty-eight people lined up in the hallway for her yearly birthday celebration at a Red Wings game, Betty wanted a photo to share with others or savor for herself.
Betty had a kind and loving heart. Her nature was accepting, compassionate and nonjudgmental. She spoke only kind words about others. Betty always thought of other’s comfort first before her own. She gave her undivided attention to everyone. Her warmhearted spirit cared deeply and loved completely. She was loved by everyone she met and will be dearly missed.
Betty was a longtime member of Our Lady Star of the Sea Parish, Grosse Pointe Woods, recently attending St. Michael Parish, Sterling Heights.
Along with her parents Betty was predeceased by her husband, Joe Forte, and her sister, Vivian King. The family wishes to express their appreciation and gratitude for the kind, compassionate care given to Betty by staff and caregivers at Clinton Creek Assisted Living and Memory Care, and AccentCare Hospice. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Shelby Twp. Parks & Recreation Special Olympics, a cause dear to Betty’s heart for her grandson, Jimmy, 14975 21 Mile Rd, Shelby Twp, MI. 48315, or to Clinton Township Goodfellows, P.O. Box 380643, Clinton Township, MI 48038.