Thursday, April 23, 2015
10:00 AM EDT
Grand Prairie Cemetery
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
With a life that spanned times of war and times of peace; times of plenty and times of want, Dick Markillie lived life doing what he loved most. Along with his beloved wife and the family he held most dear by his side, Dick lived fully at every opportunity. He had a positive nature and an easy-going demeanor which naturally drew others to his side. Dick’s legacy lives on through the many lives he touched with ways all his own.
Dick’s story began at a time of great change in the U.S. Jazz music blossomed, and the flapper redefined modern womanhood. The year 1923 marked many firsts in the fabric of the American culture as the Walt Disney Company was founded, insulin became available for diabetics, and a vaccine for the whooping cough was developed. And when the eight hour workday was established, manufacturing boomed. In the bustling city of Kalamazoo, Michigan, Ray and Pauline Markillie experienced growth of their own when on November 3, 1923 they welcomed the birth of their son, Allan Richard Markillie.
Born and raised in Kalamazoo, Allan Richard, better known as Dick, enjoyed a childhood typical of the times. He experienced endless youthful adventures, and shared times with friends. While the Great Depression cast a shadow of economic gloom from coast to coast, Dick discovered early on his love of music. He attended the local schools, yet his love for music never waned. Beginning at age 14, Dick went on to play in several big dance bands all over the state. He might have been the youngest around, but his talent was clear to see. He loved all types of music, and quite a talent, he could play all brass and woodwind instruments. In high school he played the trumpet, and his band director in school even allowed him to direct his class band. Throughout these years he also attended numerous band camps.
Dick went on to graduate from Kalamazoo Central High School in 1941. For the following two years, he furthered his education at Western Michigan College, later known as Western Michigan University. With the onset of World War II, Dick was drafted into the U.S. Army, serving in Italy, France, Germany and the Swiss Alps. During the end of the war, during the occupation, Dick had the opportunity to attend the University of Shrivenham in Berkshire, England, an American school especially for servicemen. Once honorably discharged, Dick returned to Kalamazoo and completed his education at Western, graduating in 1947 with a degree in Business and accounting.
It was during this time in Dick’s life when he met the love of his life, Jackie Evans. It was love at first sight while playing at Club Hollywood that February of 1947. When the handsome fellow in the band asked her to dance, she thought Dick was a true gentleman. During a school break from college on the eve of Thanksgiving, Dick and Jackie were happily married at First Presbyterian Church in Kalamazoo on November 26, 1947. A true love story, for the next 67 years, their love only continued to blossom.
Once settled in Kalamazoo, and exactly one year later on Thanksgiving Day, Dick and Jackie celebrated the birth of their first child, Michael. Their second son, James came along several years later in March of 1952, and completed their family. They went on to build a home on Fletcher Street, and in 1964 built their second home on F Avenue. It was situated on an acre of land, and Dick loved being out of the city. They raised their boys there, creating treasured memories and wonderful holidays. An avid sports fan, Dick loved playing catch with them. He also enjoyed yard work, kept a nice lawn, and enjoyed tending to his home.
Dick made a good life for Jackie and their boys. For 37 years he worked as a band director and music teacher, and absolutely loved teaching music to children. He worked six days a week, played on the weekends, and later retired from the St. Matthew’s School system in St. Joseph, Michigan. But in retirement, Dick wasn’t ready to say farewell to teaching. Until the age of 87, he finished his career as a private music teacher at Mattawan Schools. Dick was most proud being an original member of Bobby Davidson's Big Band. It was also the source of many fond friends and memories. Formed just after the war, it came to be a 17 piece band, and loads of fun. Music was clearly Dick’s life and passion!
Through the years, Dick enjoyed great summer vacations with his family. They always traveled to Florida for a few weeks, and often stayed with his fellow band member, and good friend, Bobby, and his family, where great times were shared. They saw the sights at Niagara Falls, and made trips to many memorable destinations. Dick loved making plans for the summers, and for 18 years enjoyed their cottage in South Haven. A life member of the Elks #50 where he played many rounds of golf and cards, he eventually transferred to the South Haven Elks Club where they had their summer residence. Later they enjoyed spending several weeks each November in Ft. Myers, Florida.
Dick continued his love for sports. He was an avid fan of the Detroit Lions and Tigers, and a faithful member of their clubs. The old Detroit Park always brought back fond memories for Dick. He also loved to read, especially newspapers, and no doubt, the sport’s section! In fact, a Sports Illustrated subscription was the best gift anyone could give him! He liked a good card game, and playing cribbage, too. Jackie was a great cook, and Dick loved all of her cooking, but especially her homemade cookies. His all-time favorite staple, however, was peanut butter and mayo sandwiches, and he loved orange sherbet. Dick allowed himself one cup of coffee a day, but there were no limits for his love of milk and OJ.
When Dick began suffering from heart and kidney issues in 2012, he and Jackie moved to Georgia to be near their son and daughter-in-law, Mike and Pam. Despite his health, Dick remained positive and kept a sharp mind. His love for Jackie, even in their later years, was as promising as the day they met. Affectionately known as her, “Honeybun”, Jackie always signed her cards to Dick, from “Hot Lips”. Never wanting to worry or bother Jackie with his ailments, all Dick ever needed was Jackie’s beautiful smile to brighten his day. Gone but never to be forgotten, the heart of Dick remains forevermore.
At the age of 91, Allan Richard “Dick” Markillie, of Kalamazoo, passed away on Saturday, April 18, 2015. Dick was preceded in death by his parents, Ray and Pauline Markillie; his sister and brother in-law, Ann and Lynn Wilson; his mother and father-in-law, Ann and Fred Spurgeon; brother-in-law, Jim Evans; a nephew, David Wilson; several cousins and many very special friends. He is survived by his very loving wife of 67 years, Jackie; his sons and daughters-in-law, Mike and Pam of Georgia, Jim and Connie of California; five grandchildren: Jessica, Melissa and Brent of Georgia, and Erin and Nicole of California; five great-grandchildren all living in Georgia; and four great-grandnephews in Kalamazoo.
Friends may meet with Dick’s family at the Betzler Life Story Funeral Home on Wednesday, April 22, 2015 from 5-8 PM. A graveside service for Dick will take place on Thursday, April 23, 2015, 10:00 AM at Grand Prairie Cemetery with Pastor Tony Shumaker, cousin of Pam Markillie, presiding. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations are preferred in Dick’s memory to The Cancer Center of Kalamazoo or to the charity of your choice. To share a favorite memory or photo of Dick and to sign his online guest book, please visit www.lifestorynet.com.