Traverse City Record-Eagle

September 14, 2013

Berta Jane Houston Mendelsohn Sept. 19, 1932 -- Aug. 28, 2013

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — BELLAIRE — Berta J. Mendelsohn, 80, passed away at Munson Medical Center after a short illness, attended by her family.

Berta was born in Grand Rapids to Keith and Lois Houston and spent many summers at Torch Lake.

After obtaining her master’s degree in psychology at U of M she settled in the Ann Arbor area to work with children in a clinical setting and then with inmates at the Wayne County Jail. Her expertise in the field touched many lives and changed them for the better.

In the early ‘90s she retired to the Torch Lake area, which she had always considered home.

Berta was a singer, an artist, a great cook and a lover of cats and nature, but most of all, she had the soul of a poet. As a child she stumbled upon a book by Ogden Nash, so much of her early poetry contained that same twist of humor and satire. Her love of words and rhythm kept her searching for new ways to better express what life is - or ought to be - and she always lived it to the fullest.

Besides her love of classical music she could sing hundreds of songs on end and remember all the words; and then, if her voice gave out … she would whistle the tunes she loved.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Keith and Lois Houston; her brother, James R. Houston; and her soul mate, James H. Stoker, the artist.

She is survived by her sister, Elaine Houston Osmun; two nephews, Curtis and Greg Osmun; three nieces, Annette (Michael) Brooks, Sharon Chapman and Helen (Dan) Vontom; and sister-in-law, Carol Houston Schneider.

A graveside service was held at Helena Township Cemetery in Alden on Aug. 31.

Those wishing to make a memorial contribution may contact The Michigan Nature Conservancy.

Please sign her guestbook at

The Bellaire Chapel of Mortensen Funeral Homes is handling the arrangements.