Friday, March 22, 2019
4:00 PM to 7:00 PM EDT
Life Story Funeral Homes - Betzler
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Food and drinks will be served.
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
When reflecting on the life of Bill Brisky, it can clearly be seen that he was a man of great purpose and even greater values. He worked hard and played hard, but he was never far from his family as he was a beloved husband, father, and grandfather. Bill was always active, even in his later years, and he applied the lessons he learned along the way to his everyday life, inspiring those around him. Truly a man who understood what was important in life, Bill will be dearly missed and forever treasured.
The Great Depression was ravaging the country in the year 1932. The year was bleak and dark for many people, but even in the midst of the troubles, there was a spot of sunshine for Samuel and Victoria (Stimac) Brisky. On May 14th of that year, they welcomed not one, but two baby boys into their hearts and home. The twins were named Bill and Bob, and Bill, the older of the two, was born only minutes before his identical twin brother. The family lived together in Copper City, Michigan, for years as the children grew. Bill adored his brothers Jim, who was the oldest of the family, Fred, the youngest, and of course his twin brother, Bob. While the Great Depression crippled much of the economy for the years to come, his father was able to provide for his family working in the mines and as the town’s postmaster, nothing short of a miracle during this time of widespread unemployment. Bill’s loving mother stayed home to take care of the house and raise the children. When he was 10 years old, his father decided to move the family to the lower Peninsula, purchasing a grape farm in Mattawan.
Throughout his entire life, Bill was known for his incredible work ethic. During his teen years he learned the value of hard work, and applied it equally to all that he did: at home on the farm, in his work at school and in all of the sports in which he participated at Mattawan High School. Bill was an outstanding athlete, earning varsity letters in football, basketball, baseball, and track and field, which later earned him a place in the 2018 Mattawan Hall of Honor, alongside his brother, Bob. In fact, he was such a fantastic athlete that Bill had the opportunity to play ball professionally, however, he decided to focus on his education and enrolled at Western Michigan University. He graduated in 1954, then returned to get his master’s degree after two years of service in the Army as a First Lieutenant, stationed in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Truly a man who wanted to make a difference in the world, Bill was an educator at heart. In 1958, he began his long, rewarding teaching career at Covert High, beginning an exciting new chapter of his life, which included a coaching position as an outlet for his love of sports. His roommate in Covert, Elmer, thought highly of Bill, as did Elmer’s girlfriend, Mary. On New Year’s Eve 1960, they arranged a blind date with Mary’s close friend, Marilu Marczynski. Bill and Marilu went on their second date a few weeks later, and they quickly discovered that they were “meant to be”. Bill and Marilu continued to fall deeper in love, and on June 17, 1961, they were engaged. They were married that year on November 23rd (Thanksgiving Day) at St. James Church in Grand Rapids.
Also that fall, Bill moved on to teach and coach at Bangor High School. It wasn’t long before Bill and Marilu were welcoming their first child: Bill, Jr. As they planned for their family, in 1964, they decided to move to the Portage community, where Bill took a position in the Science Department at Portage Central Middle School. There, he taught science until his retirement in 1989. Because of his outstanding teaching skills, Bill advanced to the head of the science department, an honor of which he was very proud. He believed that education was the key to success, and he instilled this philosophy in his own children as well as the children he taught in the classroom.
In Portage, Bill and Marilu welcomed their two daughters into their hearts and home: Lynn and Janet. Bill loved his children with all his heart and taught them all he could to help them thrive in life. He was always funny and quite a tease, and he supported his kids unconditionally in all their events and activities. To provide for his family, Bill worked on the weekends and summers. Bill strongly believed in the importance of education and he encouraged his children to go to college. He was so very proud when all of his children graduated from Michigan State University.
As someone who preferred to be busy, Bill was always on the go. Even into retirement, he continued to work in the meat section at D&W Grocery. Bill thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of his job, but he especially liked interacting with the customers. He also enjoyed his true retirement after he left D&W, as it allowed him to do more of the things he loved to do. Bill and Marilu were able to devote more time to travel, one of their favorite pastimes. Their travels took them to places such as Germany, England, Scotland, Austria, Italy, and many other countries throughout Europe. Bill enjoyed seeing the beauty of the world and learning from the people who lived there as he was a great conversationalist. Of all the places he traveled, however, Bill’s favorite was The Old Course in St. Andrews in Scotland. He was an avid golfer and spent every Wednesday at the Old Mill Golf Course in Schoolcraft with friends. In “off season”, Bill and his buddies also liked to shoot pool at the Shakespeare Pub in Kalamazoo. In addition, he was on the same bowling team for more than 50 years.
Family was always very important to Bill, and he was overjoyed when he finally became a grandfather at the age of 70. He shared his unwavering love with his three grandchildren, Ryan, Liam, and Paul, who affectionately referred to him as Papa. He was proud of the fact that he had three namesakes: William Paul Brisky, Jr. (Bill Jr.), William Paul Halpin (Liam), with whom he shares a birthday, and William Paul Brisky, III (Paul). Bill considered himself truly blessed, and the value of family was something that he always treasured.
All who knew Bill would agree that he had an insatiable love for teaching and helping people be their very best. Bill not only taught his life lessons, he lived them, including perseverance, the value of family, and the importance of education. Bill treasured his family and enjoyed every moment spent with them and his friends. Although he will be forever missed, he leaves behind a priceless legacy that his loved ones will proudly carry on.
Bill Brisky, of Kalamazoo, died on Thursday, March 7, 2019. Members of his family include his wife Marilu, 3 children: Bill ( Katie) Brisky, Lynn (Jay) Kessen, Janet (Matthew) Halpin, 3 grandchildren: Ryan, Liam, and Paul, 2 brothers: Bob (Barbara) Brisky, Fred (Nance) Brisky. Bill was preceded in death by his brother Jim. Visit with family and friends on Friday March 22nd from 4-7 p.m. at the Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900 where services will also be held Saturday at 11 a.m. Burial with honors will be at Ft. Custer National Cemetery. Please visit Bill’s personal web page at www.BetzlerFuneralHome.com, where you can archive a favorite memory or photo and sign his online guestbook before coming to the funeral home. In honor of Bill, the family has asked for you to do a kind deed for someone that is in need. Memorial donations may be made to First Tee of Kalamazoo.