As the oldest of six boys, Roy kept himself busy in his youth by cutting lawns, running errands, and delivering newspapers around Detroit. His delivery job at The Detroit Times ended when the newspaper went out of business, and Roy's next job foreshadowed his life to come. At 15, Roy began working for the neighborhood funeral home, washing cars, cutting grass, and doing general maintenance in and around the building. He kept this job throughout his school years. After high school, Roy attended the Detroit Institute of Technology and Highland Park Community College. He went on to attend Wayne State University, graduating with a degree in Mortuary Science. He had chosen this field for one simple reason: he wanted to help people.
To be better able to do this, Roy wanted to establish his own funeral home. After 15 years of working for someone else, Roy moved to Kalamazoo, where he purchased a preexisting funeral home of his own. By 1986, he had the means to move the Betzler Funeral Home to a new building on Stadium drive. And in 1999, Roy purchased a second chapel in Paw Paw.
The business aspect of Roy's life continues to be successful, but this is only because of his emotional commitment to helping families in their times of need. "It's one thing to take care of all the details in a professional setting," says Roy, "and quite another to be involved emotionally, like I am, while providing those functions." Roy's empathy for families stems from his own personal experience. He felt the loss of his father at the young age of 17, an event that was incredibly traumatic: "I still miss [my father] . . . He never saw me graduate from college, marry, buy my first home, have a family, or start a business. I know what it feels like to experience that loss." In honor of his dad, Roy has become somewhat of a perfectionist when it comes to his work. He spends whatever amount of time and effort are necessary to give families the kind of services they deserve.
Roy’s son, Scott, followed in his footsteps, adopting his father’s same commitment to giving grieving families the best service possible. Besides Scott, Roy has another son, Bruce, and two daughters, Trisha and Laura. There are eight grandchildren in the family, and Roy likes to visit them as much as he can. He also enjoys spending time with his wife, Rosalie, whom he married in 1997.
Roy Betzler successfully built his business from the ground up. What makes it a continued success, however, is the fact that he genuinely cares about the people he serves and making sure they will receive the best service now and far into the future.
Though he was born in the Detroit area, Kalamazoo is the place Scott Betzler calls home. He moved there in 1975 at the young age of five, accompanied by his parents and his elder siblings. The family lived above the Betzler and Donovan Funeral Home downtown on South Street, where Scott's parents ran the business. However, his primary interest as a young man was not the family business; instead, it was the game of golf. Scott played throughout his high school years, the freshman year of which he spent at Hackett Catholic Central. He then transferred to Kalamazoo Central High School, graduating in 1988. At Kalamazoo Valley Community College, Scott earned an associates degree, continuing to work on his golf game with the KVCC team.
Although Scott had grown up surrounded by the funeral profession, it was not until he began working for his father at the age of 18 that he really began to take interest in it as a career option. Working part-time at the funeral home allowed Scott the chance to witness exactly what it was that his father did. He flooded his father with questions, the answers to which inspired him to follow in the same direction. Scott decided to put his golf clubs into storage (temporarily) to pursue a degree in Mortuary Science from Wayne State University. By 1991 he had graduated, and was eager to begin his professional career.
As a welcomed addition to his father's funeral home, Scott was given the responsibility of managing both the funeral homes. One event that helped Scott identify with grieving families was the death of his close friend, Don Stone. Not only was the loss of his friend (who had been his golf partner and attorney) an emotional experience for Scott, it was also a life-changing event. It allowed him to truly see himself in each of the grieving family members he met. Scott still thinks of Don often, and his appreciation for life has inspired him to make his work more about the celebration of life than the loss of it.
Scott has seen the healing effect the Life Story Network® provides. It has completely changed the way he himself is able to serve grieving families. The positive reactions he receives from those who use the Life Story service are overwhelming, and give him the kind of reassurance he needs to work continually in an emotionally sensitive field.
Outside of his time as a Life Story Funeral Director, Scott remains committed to serving the community. He has sat on the board of directors and volunteers with the Kalamazoo Humane Society and is the founder of Precious Pets, Pet Cremation & Burial Services. Scott has a faithful companion (a Golden Retriever) named Hollie, who accompanies him daily to the funeral home as a therapy dog.
Scott and his wife Julie, who works as a RN, own a home in Mattawan where they live with their son Cooper (7) and daughter Camryn (2). As a family they enjoy spending time playing cards, snow skiing, visiting friends, or spending warm summer days at South Haven, MI. Scott and Julie also like to travel to sunny Arizona, where they visit Scott's mom and sisters. And of course, Scott spends any of his remaining time at his second home - the golf course.
Arf, arf! My name is Hollie, and I'm the Therapy Dog at Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes®. Most days you can find me at our Stadium Drive location in Kalamazoo (I love the comfy couches in the beautiful new addition!), but I work at our Paw Paw location, too (no jokes, please).
In case you can't tell by my long blonde locks, I'm a Driftwood Golden Retriever, and both my Mom and Dad were champion goldens. My sire was a field champion from Driftwood's Unsolved Mystery, where I get my great jumping genes from, and my dame was a Show Champion from AJ's Misty Fawn, where some say I get my good looks and personality from.
I was born with my litter on September 29, 2001, at Linker Learning Centre for Dogs, in Battle Creek, Michigan. That September was a tough time for many people, but I brought a smile to the face of my owner then, Sherry Thomas Linker.
When I was just 12 weeks old, I found a home of my own, when Scott and Julie Betzler adopted me, on January 2, 2002. It was a cold, frosty Wednesday that day, but I warmed the hearts of my new owners. I couldn't ask for better "parents" than Scott and Julie. They both lost their own dogs, who were sadly hit by cars on the same night in 2000. Scott had a black lab named Bailey, and Julie had a black cocker-mix named Bellie. I'm sorry I never got to meet my siblings, but we're quite a happy family today.
When I was a pup, Scott used to bring me to work at the funeral home, and I was a real hit with all the great people working there. They even helped teach me tricks and potty-train me! So I guess you could say I grew up there, just like Scott did (Mom told me he was potty-trained at the funeral home, too!).
Scott was on the board at the Kalamazoo Humane Society back then, and the KHS trains Therapy Dogs for nursing homes and hospitals. Scott thought, "Why not have Hollie go through the program, too?" So I did, and graduated with flying colors. Mom and Dad say I'm a natural.
Since then, I've been working full-time as a Therapy Dog at the funeral homes. I love my job because it combines two of my favorite things: helping people, and treats! Since I started working there, I've helped thousands of people with their grief, whether it's letting them pet me, hold my paw, or just have me at their feet. Not to pet myself on the back, but I also get requested by families quite often, even on days Scott has off! Sometimes I work 60 hours a week, but I really love it. I'm always the first one in the car on the way to work! By the end of the day, I'm usually one tired pooch.
It's always worth the hard work, though. Especially since every day is "pay day," when I get my treats. Somehow I've managed to keep my girlish figure, a healthy 65 pounds! And even though I shed my blonde hair on dark suits, most people say I'm well worth it. In fact, I get more comments and gifts from families we've helped than the rest of the staff combined! But I don't feel like the MVP, I'm just doing my job. I'm lucky, really. They say every dog has their day, but for me at least, that's every day. I work with great people, get to help people through difficult times, and get rewarded, too. Who could ask for more?
Service is defined as helping, assisting others. For Sue Wunderlich, there is nothing more important than provide the highest level of service possible. Working for Life Story Funeral Homes – Betzler gives Sue the opportunity to offer grieving families the caring service that they need.
Sue’s story begins in the town of Paw Paw, Michigan, where she grew up as the youngest of four children. With three older brothers and just four years separating them all, Sue learned at an early age that sports were going to play a big part in her life. Her dad was the president of the local Little League and coached all four kids on their baseball teams and taught them all to play golf. For Sue, just being outdoors was fun. From climbing trees, wandering through the woods and swimming at “the lake” in warm weather to sledding and snowmobiling in the winter, Sue was always on the go. Nowadays, she’s found a new hobby (or fetish), collecting Longaberer. Sue has her mother to thank for that. The two take bus trips every-other year to Dresden, OH (“the Longaberger capital of the world”) and shop ‘til they drop!
From 1985 to 1989, Sue attended Paw Paw High School graduating in 1989. While in high school she was immersed in sports. Those four years were filled with studying, playing basketball, softball, and running track. Davenport University was the next stop on Sue’s path where she earned her degree in Accounting.
The year 2000 found Sue achieving a new goal, starting as secretary/receptionist for Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes. According to Sue, “In funeral service no day is ever the same, with more experience - the more knowledge I have”. Sue is now the office manager.
All of this experience and knowledge is what makes Sue the caring person that she is. Her mission at Betzler’s is to do as much as she can for each family, so that they may grieve in their own personal way. With honesty and integrity, Sue does just that. She appreciates that Life Story Funeral homes celebrate the life that has been lived, honoring the memories and legacies that will be passed down from generation to generation.
Sue now lives at Eagle Lake in Kalamazoo with her life partner, Margo, and her two cats, Birdie and Homie. Sports are still a big part of her life as she plays golf every week and she takes great pleasure spending time with family and friends. Oh yes, and cheering for the University of Michigan Wolverines and enjoying a good tail-gate party.
Jen Nederhoed’s story is one that has led her through the joys and sorrows of life experiences and now clearly to a place in funeral service where she can be of great comfort and help for many. The experiences of life are, after all, what lead all of us to new places of learning, growth, and happiness.
Tragedy came into Jen’s life at the tender age of seven when her friend and her friend’s mother were killed in an automobile accident. There’s a saying that goes like this, “Grief shared is grief diminished.” As Jen looks back now, she sees clearly that there is a big difference in funeral homes. At the age of seven, when she needed help the most, the funeral home that handled the funeral failed totally in helping children share their grief and cope with a tragic loss. Jen struggled with her unexpressed grief and became averse to having anything to do with funeral homes.
As her journey continued, Jen went on to college, married and had a family, and owned and operated her own business. Then one day she sensed something tugging her life strongly in a new direction. Jen honored these feelings, took this different path, and decided to attend Mt. Hope Bible Training Institute. She was already on staff part-time at her church, Valley Family Church, and when her training was complete she joined the staff there as the Pastoral Care Pastor.
Through her pastoral care work and by officiating at funerals, Jen met and worked with most of the funeral homes in Kalamazoo. This is when she learned first-hand that there is a difference in funeral homes and funeral directors. In her own words, Jen says, “The way Scott and Bruce Betzler and the Life Story Funeral Homes deal with families stood out to me and became the funeral homes I would recommend when asked. The care that exudes from Betzler’s during their time with families has set a new bar for the funeral profession.”
As the little girl who was traumatized by the death of her friend, Jen is now on staff at Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes and walks right alongside families as they move through their grief. She listens to them and walks step-by-step with them in a way that is safe, personal, and non-threatening. One of the most rewarding parts of her job is helping people remember the good times they had with their loved one.
Jen knows the Kalamazoo area well, having been born and raised here, along with her brother and three sisters. She lives in Kalamazoo with her husband, Hank, and their two children who are in college, Jessica at Ferris State University and Eric at Western Michigan University. In her spare time, Jen enjoys riding her motorcycle and camping. She also loves to sit in the sun and read a good book.
Now, decades after her friend died, Jen is relieved to have confronted death and is eager to help others with their grief and loss. We grieve because we have lived and loved. Jen knows the Life Story Funeral Experience is about sharing life and love, a gift that keeps memories alive and strengthens the ties of family and friends forever.
Joe was born at a very early age in Lapeer Michigan, but family lore has that he was found in an old chicken coop down by the creek. His childhood was pretty normal for being the youngest of five: survival, and trying to figure out which nickname he currently was required to answer to from his siblings. He has been working since the age of 12, and fate had it that on his last day of high school, he landed a summer job at the local funeral home taking care of the grounds.
During college, Joe landed employment at a funeral home and earned his cub-undertaking badge from a very caring and patient man who had schooled many young people over the years in the art of small town funeral directing. He eventually earned a Bachelor's degree from the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science. While living in Cincinnati, Joe met the future Mrs. Buysse. She was young, artistic and had the looks of the "little red headed girl" from the comic strip Peanuts. He eventually won her heart over and swept her off her feet to a storybook wedding on July 2, 1988.
Joe and his wife have lived in St. Bernard, Ohio, Columbiaville and Lapeer, Michigan and since 1997 in Portage, Michigan with their son Adam. Their family also includes Adam's guinea pig Fudge, their dog Trixie, and billions and billions of dust particles and other things growing in and around the refrigerator. They are expecting a second child sometime between the months of October and January. Because of the long and sometimes "non traditional" hours required by funeral service, much of Joe's free time is dedicated to being at home with his family.
Joe believes in giving back to the community in which he lives and that is one of the reasons he belongs to the Kalamazoo Sunrise Kiwanis. He is also a member of Chapel Hill United Methodist Church, Kalamazoo Toastmasters #1270, and he is a regular volunteer at Haverhill Elementary School in Portage.
Joe has worked for Rupert, Durham, Marshall & Gren since 1999 and has developed many new skills over the years he has been there. Life Story Funeral Homes® has given him the opportunity, or permission, to serve families in a creative way that makes the funeral experience more meaningful and helpful to individuals and the communities in which he serves.
One of the best parts of Joe's job is inspiring people to take control of the funeral of their loved ones and making it personable and meaningful to them. If he fails in this task, all of the wonderful things that Life Story Network® provides would not have the same impact. Being a funeral director is a sacred job and Joe takes all of his responsibilities with utmost importance. He is very passionate about funeral service and has great enthusiasm for the path that Life Story Network® is taking to shape the future of the funeral profession. He is proud to be a Life Story Funeral Director® and to work for RDMG. Life Story Network® will only enhance Joe's abilities and talents to help change the outlook and future of funeral service, one family at a time.