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Carolyn Caswell

Carolyn Caswell was welcomed by the Lord November 22, 2017.

The daughter of a farmer and nurse, Carl and Nellie Bierema, she graduated from Plainwell High in 1962, married in ’63 and had 3 daughters Vicki, Amy and Jenny. Carolyn was a dedicated employee at Big Top and Harding’s Market for decades.

In her spare time she enjoyed working in her flower garden, playing dominos, knitting for others, hosting baby and wedding showers, and working out at her brother’s Repz Gym. Carolyn also spent many weekends with her grand children attending various seasons of sporting events for Ally and Nolan, camping, as well as visiting her daughter and grandchildren Noah and Micah in sunny Florida.

Carolyn lost her daughter Amy in 1998 and husband Theron “Butch” Caswell in 2007.

Her daughter Vicki Hawkins resides in East Lansing and Jenny (Brian) Smith in Ponte Vedra Beach. Carolyn’s surviving brothers and sisters are Rich Bierema, David Bierema, Janet Hoag, Joe Bierema, Anne Cetas, Jerry Bierema, Lenny Bierema, Becky Wright, and deceased brother Carl Jr.

Friends and family may visit with Carolyn’s family at the Otsego United Methodist Church (223 East Allegan Street) starting at 10:00am, until the time of the memorial service at 11:00am, Saturday, December 2, 2017. Lunch will be provided following.

Messages of condolence may be posted at

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Condolence Messages

Dick & Carol (James) Schiedel

November 24, 2017 at 7:19 pm

Dick worked with Carolyn at Bigtop., along with our 2 daughters, Carla Witters and Kelly Gruber. I think they all had more fun than work.

Carol grew up in Cooper and went to school in Plainwell same time- frame as Carolyn..

We all wish to extend out sympathies.


David R. Salisbury

November 24, 2017 at 9:12 pm

Carolyn has always been a “bright light” in the approximate 10 years that I have known her.

I initially met her deceased husband Butch here in the community due to his interest in clocks. We saw each other periodically at different places, as well at his home. As a result I met Carolyn officially. I saw her often at Big Top, especially on Sunday mornings. We have talked often of her lovely flowers, our houses and whatever. She always had a cheerful large smile on her face that seemed just to reflect the spirit within her. I remember her telling me a few years ago of her bout with cancer. Wow! How she seemed, publically anyway, to just accept it and move on. I have little doubt that may have been her internal attitude and a reflection of her faith in our God! Her daughters were always a delight to her and often was mentioned in conversation. Her flowers and her house was pure enjoyment and much pride. I shall miss her “drive bys”, “honk, wave and smile” for sure. Her family, and the community as lost a wonderful lady.


Delores Lowis

November 25, 2017 at 7:35 am

Carolyn was a great example of how to live a life well

. She was kind, caring, brave and full of life. She was my friend who will be missed and remembered forever.


Kay (Wiersma) Stribling

November 25, 2017 at 9:59 am

I know Carolyn from Hardings. I loved seeing her and chatting with her. She had a fabulous sense of humor. She will be missed.


Todd Overhuel

November 25, 2017 at 11:38 am

If I was only allowed three words to describe Carolyn they would be Nice, Funny and Grace.


Terry Arehart VanLent

November 25, 2017 at 1:08 pm

Rich and family, I’m so sorry for your loss….Carolyn was such an awesome person, I always enjoyed talking to her, she will be missed. I’m praying for your hearts to heal, God Bless Terry Arehart VanLent


Jennifer Mitchell

November 25, 2017 at 1:14 pm

I didn’t know Carolyn personally, but always admired her home and beautiful flower gardens. Wishing you all peace…


Cris Black

November 25, 2017 at 1:25 pm

I cannot say enough good about Carolyn. She and my mom, Barb Jager, were good friends and when my mom’s cancer was getting the best of her, Carolyn was there to weed, drop off dinner or just visit…love her. Such a special person who will truly be missed!


Shawn & Maggie Boeskool

November 25, 2017 at 1:43 pm

Love & prayers to her family didn’t really know her other then seeing her at Harding, but I know her brother Jerry my heart goes out to him I know he loved her immensely …May God ease the pain as the family goes through this..


Tom and Beth Raich

November 25, 2017 at 2:01 pm

Our prayers and thoughts are with Carolyns family. Carolyn was always quick with a smile, and even quicker to make you feel good about yourself. Her presence will be truly missed.


Anne Kirby

November 25, 2017 at 4:15 pm

What a loss to our two communities. I shall miss her greatly.


Karen VanZweden

November 25, 2017 at 4:34 pm

Dear Anne and Carl.

My sincere sympathy to you on the loss of your sister! I pray that God will comfort and strengthen all of you during this sad time.My thoughts and prayers are with you.


Candy Pradon

November 25, 2017 at 5:20 pm

Im so sorry my prayers to you all. I will miss her


Jerry and Judy Shumaker

November 25, 2017 at 5:23 pm

Our thoughts and sympathy are with Carolyn’s brother, Jerry, and the rest of her family. She fought a tough battle and we can all learn lessons from her. We sure will miss seeing her smiling face at Harding’s, that’s for sure. It was always a pleasure to go through her line at the store. Please know that we are thinking of all of her family and friends and hoping their special memories of her will help guide them through the coming days, weeks, and months ahead. She was a special lady ! ! ! ! ! !


Bob & Barb Gulbranson

November 25, 2017 at 5:24 pm

Carolyn became my friend 41 years ago when we moved next door to her and her family. She was the first neighbor to welcome me and we’ve been good friends since. Our children immediately bonded and are still friends today. Always had a great time sending our kids off to school and enjoying a cup of tea together. She loved to do things with her kids and we had many outings together with our kids – sledding, roller skating, going to the beach, camping, ceramics and even had a great time running together. Her husband Butch helped our son build two clocks for projects at OHS. He even took a 1st place in a state competition with his wall clock. Carolyn was the gentlest, caring and most patient person I ever knew. She was loved by all. I’m so blessed to have known her and am rejoicing on her reunion with her husband and beloved daughter, Amy, that she is enjoying now. My prayers are with you Vicki and your family, Jenny and your family and to Carolyn’s wonderful siblings and their families.



Zelma Largent and Mike Largent

November 25, 2017 at 6:03 pm

So sorry to hear about Carolyn.


Irv and Elaine Figel

November 25, 2017 at 6:51 pm

Carolyn was a wonderful neighbor and friend. When our children were young we lived in the same neighborhood! Our children played together and we would sit on her porch or mine and just talk as the kids played! We moved and our families grew apart! But I would see her at our children’s school events and the Plainwell Hardings and we would still talk like old friends! Our prayers are with Vicki and Jennie and their families and all of the Bierema family! Heaven has gained a beautiful and caring Angel!


Stephen &Kelly Gruber

November 25, 2017 at 8:39 pm

As my parents said above ( Dick and Carol Schiedel) , my sister and I worked with Carolyn for many years at Big Top. I did from the age of 16 – 19 and again later after I had children for 4 more years. Then again after it became Harding’s. My husband also knew Carolyn, as he worked at Big Top too. His name is Stephen Gruber. My husband and I actually met at Big Top. Carolyn was and has always been a light to Big Top and Harding’s. Such a quiet loving soul. She cared so much for people and showed it every day. She was always there for my sister (Carla (Schiedel) Witters) and I whenever we needed to talk. She was such a blessing to us. Please know our thoughts and prayers are with you all in this hard time. May the Lord comfort you in only a way that He can. God bless you all.



November 25, 2017 at 10:03 pm

I’m going to miss Carolyn’s beautiful smile and sense of humor at Hardings. Love to do the chit chat thing, while checking out. Always asked about my daughter’s. She worked with my daughter Chris. Thoughts and Prayers to Rich and the Family.


Angela Weststrate

November 26, 2017 at 1:10 am

Carolyn will always leave a special imprint of her kindness in my heart❣️She had an endearing laugh and always treated me like I was one of her daughters. Mrs.C introduced me to Silver dollar pancakes in her kitchen, Nintendo, and her hospitality was beyond compare!

She will forever be in my thoughts and no more shall she be in pain.

The Heavens have gained another Beautiful Angel


Linda Burnell

November 26, 2017 at 9:51 am

Carolyn was one of the sweetest people I know. Always so nice and thoughtful. My thoughts and prayers for the rest of the family.


Kim Kalchik

November 26, 2017 at 10:54 am

Jerry and family,

All of you are in my thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. Carolyn was an incredible woman and had a heart of gold! I’m so thankful I had the opportunity to meet her and spend time with her. She certainly will hold a special place in my heart! May Gods peace comfort you all.


Lynne stowell

November 26, 2017 at 11:39 am

My deepest condolences to Carolyn’s family. Carolyn and I met through Big Top and Hardings. We then became friends and lunch buddies. I so enjoyed hearing about her family and grand kids. She was such a funny and nice person. She will be missed!


Laura Bierema

November 26, 2017 at 12:18 pm

Dear Family,

My thoughts are with you over the loss of your wonderful sister, mother, and grandmother, Carolyn.

Laura Bierema (daughter of Kenneth, granddaughter of Ralph and Lorna)


Conni Pierce

November 26, 2017 at 12:27 pm

Thought and prayers to you all I remember coming into Big top and Carolyn behind the counter god bless you all Carolyn is now your angel


Jerry and Marilyn Fenner

November 26, 2017 at 5:19 pm

We will miss Carolyn at Hardings.



November 26, 2017 at 5:26 pm

Vicki – I’m sorry your loss my heart goes out to the whole family.

We had so many good times! Carolyn, Brian, Zach and I would go to movies or eat out – We would play all those pranks at Big Top – put the money backwards, those frozen fish in the drawers, that weird beetle -so many- Carolyn had the best laugh – and the best ideas. She was one of those people that stay with you forever. I’m lucky to have known her.


Tim and Judy Gates Hayes

November 26, 2017 at 5:57 pm

Carolyn is a wonderful person and we had the honor of knowing her. May God comfort all of you at this time. Keep her memories close to your heart and she will be with you always..


Danielle Holtman

November 26, 2017 at 10:45 pm

Such a beautiful soul. I didn’t work at hardings long but everytime id get the chance to go through her line, either while working or just stopping in the store for a few things. She always brought a smile or a laugh to your face. You’ll be greatly missed.


Michelle Abbey

November 27, 2017 at 12:19 am

Always enjoyed seeing Carolyn’s friendly face at the grocery. She was so patient. My sincere condolences to all her family.


Sandy and Dan Fleming

November 27, 2017 at 1:46 pm

Carolyn was always such a Happy go Lucky kind of person. My daughter Rose Markillie Campbell used to be very good friends with Vicki and she used to spend a lot of time at their home.I always enjoyed talking to Carolyn in the store or in a restaurant or just in passing. She always would ask about Rose and I would ask about Vicki. Carolyn was a very compassionate person. And she loved her family dearly. Her and I talked several times after I lost my son Larry in 1999. As she had just lost her daughter Amy in 1998. We formed a bond if only to console each other. We both had suffered a great loss. Vicki, I want to extend my deepest and most sincere sympathy on the loss of your mother. She was a very unique person. Definitely one of a kind. And I am going to miss here. R.I.P. Caroline


Carla Witters

November 27, 2017 at 2:50 pm

Carolyn was such a dear blessing to so many of us who worked at Big Top. Her kindness, love and support was always encouraging to me personally as I worked my way through college.

She will be dearly missed by many.


David and Carol Boulter

November 27, 2017 at 5:55 pm

Almost seems like I’ve known Carolyn most of my life. From the time I started working with her at Town and Country in the 1960’s to when we bought a house across the street in 1974.After we moved in ’84, we still ran in to each other on occasion. What a great compassionate lady. Every time we would go to Deyoung’s/Harding’s, she went out of her way to greet us with a hug. We will truly miss her. Our condolences to Vicki and family and Jenny and family and to David and the rest of her siblings.


Lorna and Craig Sisson

November 27, 2017 at 10:52 pm

What a bright light Carolyn was for all of us. Always a smile, and her kind and caring presence. She was such a trooper through her long illness, she never complained. We saw her at REPZ’ Jerry’s gym weekly when she was able with her smile and her positive attitude. We will all miss her. What an example she was for all of us. She truly fought the good fight. Our hearts, thoughts, and prayers are with the girls, Jerry and the entire family. May your wonderful memories give you comfort and Peace.


Patricia Wilcox

November 27, 2017 at 10:59 pm

I will truly miss Carolyn. Enjoyed many visits with her at Big Top/Hardings over the years. She worked for many years with my son and daughter there. Whenever I came in, it was always, how are Kevin and Denise doing? She was always, kind, gentle, caring, loving, and compassionate. What a blessing she was to so many others. My thoughts and prayers go out to her family. Her body is pain free, and I’m sure she is rejoicing in heaven today!! Blessings!!


Kim Lewis

November 28, 2017 at 7:50 am

I am so saddened by this news…, what a lovely lady… she will be greatly missed & never forgotten, always had a beautiful smile. Rest Peacfully sweet angel ✝️


Marilyn Noble Lamborn

November 29, 2017 at 1:37 pm

To The Caswell and Bierema Family:

So sorry to hear of Carolyn’s passing, she is at peace now with God by her side. Carolyn and I go back many years, both growing up in Cooper. In fact, not to long ago, I was in her checkout and I was chatting with someone ahead of me and I said, Carolyn and I are Cooper Kids. She got a big smile on her face. She will be greatly missed.

My thoughts and prayers go out to you all! Cherish all the wonderful memories!!

Marilyn Noble Lamborn, Brett, Brooks and Bruce Lamborn


Cheryl Mario

December 2, 2017 at 5:46 am

I am saddened by the loss of this beautiful lady. Carolyn was beautiful inside and out and will be greatly missed. My condolence goes out to the family and especially Jerry (who is the only other family member I know). Treasure your memories.


Dr. Robert L.Hosack ,Sally and Rob

December 4, 2017 at 2:58 pm

Carolyn was such a sweet lady who was very gracious to help us at Harding. We pray the family will remember her wonderful, quiet spirit in times of sorrow. May God remind the family always of what a wonderful lady who had many Christian values.


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