Friday, September 30, 2016
5:00 PM to 8:00 PM EDT
Life Story Funeral Homes - Betzler
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Food and refreshments 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.
FIRE (historical and cultural arts collaborative promoting social justice through the arts and culture)
P.O. Box 51161
Kalamazoo, MI 49007
ERACCE (eliminating racism and creating/celebrating equality)
810 Rankin Ave.
Kalamazoo, MI 49006
Dr. James M. Croteau Scholarship Fund Western Michigan University
1903 West Michigan Avenue, MS 5403
Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5403
Attention: Amy L. Routhier
Development and Alumni Relations
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
James Michael Croteau was born January 4, 1957, in Memphis, Tennessee. He is the son of Mary and Paul Croteau, and has an older brother, Joseph. Jim spent many summers during his childhood at the home of his beloved Aunt Bridgie in Cleveland, Mississippi. Jim’s experience of growing up in the south during the turbulent 1960s shaped many of his convictions as a scholar, teacher and poet.
Jim and his family were active in their Memphis parish, St. John’s Catholic Church, where he and Joe attended school and served as altar boys. Jim spent many summers working concessions with his brother and parents at the Memphis Blues AA baseball games. He was a championship bowler during his high school years. Jim attended Christian Brothers High School where he excelled academically. A serious student, he went on to receive his undergraduate degree from Loyola University in New Orleans and his PhD in Counseling Psychology from Southern Illinois University.
Dr. Jim Croteau began his career at the Ithaca College Counseling Center in Ithaca, New York. It was there in 1985 that he met his life-long partner of 31 years, Darryl Loiacano. In 1987, Jim and Darryl celebrated their love for each other with a commitment ceremony attended by about 80 friends and family.
In 1990, Jim and Darryl relocated to Kalamazoo, Michigan, where Jim began his career in academia at Western Michigan University’s Department of Counseling Education and Counseling Psychology. There Jim formed strong and lasting relationships with faculty and students, especially the graduate and doctoral students that he mentored. He rose to tenured Professor and was a prolific researcher and nationally-known scholar in LGBT studies as well as in race and sexual orientation issues. Jim published over 50 journal articles and book chapters. He was honored to be a Fellow of Division 17 and Division 44 of the American Psychological Association. Jim received multiple awards including the Mary L. Dawson Teaching Excellence Award in 2006 and the Trailblazer Award for innovative scholarship in 2010. Also in 2010, Dr. James Croteau was ranked the most productive scholar on LGBT issues in Counseling Psychology for the period of 1990-2008. Jim had just begun transitioning to a part-time faculty role in the fall of 2016 when his untimely death occurred.
Beyond his professional life, Jim loved to read and to engross himself in the vast world of learning available on the internet. He was an avid runner in his 30s and 40s and completed 3 marathons. Jim and Darryl were also dog enthusiasts and raised 3 Labrador retrievers; their dogs Frosty and Bell will be a comfort for Darryl in the wake of Jim’s loss. Jim was heavily involved at the Kalamazoo Dog Training Club for many years. In more recent years Jim became a practicing Buddhist where he found comfort and wisdom. His sense of well being was greatly enhanced through daily meditation.
Travel for Jim started early with family trips to see relatives and tour the western USA and continued throughout his life, and driving was Jim’s most comfortable mode of transport. Jim and Darryl loved to get away together, particularly to two beloved spots in the Franconia Notch area in New Hampshire’s White Mountains and the lovely town of Ogunquit on the coast of Maine. They always travelled with their dogs, and enjoyed hikes in the woods and along Maine’s rocky coast. Jim recently renewed his love of biking and he and Darryl had begun traveling more frequently to the East Coast. They had hoped to spend more time there when they retired together in a few years.
When Jim’s parents began to need more assistance in 2007, he and Darryl relocated them to Kalamazoo, where Jim was a constant support and advocate. He was particularly devoted to his wonderful mother, Mary, who suffered a severe stroke in 2008. Jim’s father died in 2009, and his mother in 2011. Jim and his brother Joe, who lives in Maryland, became much closer during the years that they were attending to their parents. They more recently enjoyed many great fall dinners together when Joe and his wife Marcia would combine a stop in Kalamazoo with a football weekend at Notre Dame. Jim and Darryl attended the marriage of his niece Angela in 2011, and Jim continued to have Facebook connections with both his niece and his nephew Michael.
Throughout his life, Jim remained a tireless advocate and participant in anti-racism and social justice work. He was heavily involved in the work of ERACCE (Eliminating Racism & Claiming/Celebrating Equality) in Kalamazoo. He was also a devoted member of the Fire Historical and Cultural Arts Collaborative.
In recent years, Jim experienced a life-changing and creative metamorphosis—he uncovered his remarkable ability to write poetry. Jim fiercely honed his writing skills both on his own and through multiple poetry classes in the Kalamazoo area and beyond. He quickly, and remarkably, became a published author and was about to publish a poetry chat book with the help of his writing mentor, Denise Miller. Plans are underway to posthumously publish It’s All Tangled Up in the Sweat On My Neck, with Denise and Darryl spearheading the effort. Jim’s poetry wed his creative abilities and his social justice convictions into an art form that was powerful, authentic and challenging.
Jim loved his life and successfully cultivated lasting friendships across Southwest Michigan and beyond. Jim’s work was characterized by the individual connections he made with students, colleagues and friends. Above all, Jim loved his partner Darryl and his wonderful dogs. They were his family, and Jim’s 31 years of devotion to Darryl will remain a lasting and living memory as well as an example to countless souls.
Jim will be remembered for his honesty, his hard work, and his passion for social justice. As a teacher, a strong family man, a Buddhist, a poet, a colleague, a friend, and a partner, Jim excelled in every imaginable way. He was taken from us too soon and he will truly be missed.
Dr. James Croteau died unexpectedly on September 18, 2016 in Kalamazoo at the age of 59. He was born January 4, 1957 in Memphis, TN, the son of the late Paul and Mary Ellen (Camise) Croteau. Dr. Croteau was a professor at Western Michigan University for 26 years. Surviving are his partner of 31 years, Darryl Loiacano; brother, Joseph (Marcia Agee) Croteau and niece and nephew, Angela (Greg) Croteau Marx and Michael Croteau. Visit with family and friends while sharing food and refreshments on Friday, September 30, 2016, from 5-8pm at the Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive, (269) 375-2900 where services will be held Saturday, October 1, 2016 at 10am. A reception will follow in the Life Story Center. Please visit Jim’s personal memory page at www.BetzlerFuneralHome.com where you can read his life story, archive a favorite memory or photo and sign his guestbook before coming to the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made to FIRE (historical and cultural arts collaborative promoting social justice through the arts and culture), ERACCE (eliminating racism and creating/celebrating equality) or the Dr. James M. Croteau Scholarship Fund at Western Michigan University.