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Life Story / Obituary
Well versed and well traveled, Dr. Dick Westerman fulfilled many roles throughout his life. Independent by nature, Dr. Westerman was original in his thinking, creative in his demeanor and very knowledgeable. A project man, he thrived in everything he put his mind, hand and heart into. Having enjoyed a successful and wide range in his professional life, Dr. Westerman provided well for those entrusted to his care in addition to giving of his time and talents. Gone but never to be forgotten are the wonderful memories he leaves behind.
Dr. Richard Loucks “Dick” Westerman’s story began on February 25, 1926 just as winter had reached its peak in the bustling city of Detroit, Michigan. His birth was a true blessing in the lives of his family at an exciting time in our nation’s history. The heyday of the Roaring Twenties, Big Bands were king and Prohibition was law of the land. As major U.S. manufacturers were implementing the beginning of the first eight-hour, five-day work week, factory towns like Detroit were flourishing.
From his earliest years he learned a good work ethic from his parents . One of his most memorable times as a youth was earning his Eagle Scout award as a Boy Scout. There he learned lifelong lessons such as leaving campsites cleaner than when he arrived and leaving firewood at the campsite for the next camper, and as always, to be prepared. These and many other worthwhile axioms served Dr. Westerman well as guidelines for living throughout his entire life.
Having grown up in Detroit, Dr. Westerman went on to attend and graduate from Cranbrook Academy where his interest in medicine began. During World War II he went on to serve as a Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army and was deployed overseas several times. At the war’s end he continued his studies at Oberlin College in Ohio, and then received his MD degree from Wayne State University. Dr. Westerman began his career as a small-town family physician who made house calls and knew his patients not only by name but by their ailments as well. He ended his career in International Medical Research at Upjohn (Pfizer) Pharmaceuticals in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
During his educational years at Oberlin, Dr. Westerman met his future wife Phyllis May Perry. In 1951 they were married at her family home in Jefferson, Ohio before settling in Gunnison, Colorado where Dr. Westerman practiced medicine. There they welcomed four children into their lives, and Dr. Westerman had the privilege of delivering three of them. It was also while living in Gunnison, Colorado where Dr. Westerman learned how to fly an airplane. His instructor, “Rocky”, taught him the sometimes tricky maneuvers necessary to fly over the Rocky Mountains.
Dr. Westerman was well traveled having visited all seven continents and over 100 countries. Some of these travels included visiting his granddaughter, India, in Australia and later taking her to England and Wales. He and other family members visited his granddaughter Kame in Senegal and later, Madagascar. He and his granddaughter Lauren went on a safari in Tanzania and Kenya. He also went to Costa Rica with Lauren and Michelle. Dr. Westerman and Rick went to China, and with Perry he experienced Uzbekistan and Antarctica. He shared experiences with Amber & Kaila in Madagascar and Senegal; and Kaila and her husband on a trip to Vietnam.
Dr. Westerman also served several months near Columbia, South America as a physician on the Hope Ship. Operated by Project Hope, the ship was the world’s first Peacetime Hospital and was in operation from 1960 until 1974. After retiring from Upjohn, Dr. Westerman volunteered as a doctor on several Indian Reservations. There he learned some of the concerns and problems that face this population, and there he also took his nickname, “White Cloud”. Dr. Westerman was always one to have a project, if not several, in the works. One that he spent many hours on was his Malaria project. He researched the literature in his quest to understand the disease and its possible cures and treatments. He was a great story teller and daughter Amber helped compile memoirs of his many adventures which will always remain a treasure. An avid student of the stock market, he mentored others in investing and was a member of the Kalamazoo Investment Club.
Later in life, Dr. Westerman’s artistic talents were realized in his many original design hooked rugs that were displayed throughout his home. Another hobby he thoroughly enjoyed was his soap creations. There were several local outlets that displayed and sold his specialized soaps, especially popular included a university or college theme. He enjoyed giving a specialty bar of soap as an extra tip or thank you to others.
Dr. Dick Westerman touched the lives of many. He was known to express his feelings through his actions. An independent and original thinker, Dr. Westerman was a creative and knowledgeable man. Although he will be deeply missed, fond memories of a giving and enlightening man will be forever remembered.
Dr. Richard Loucks “Dick” Westerman, age 92, died March 26, 2018 in Kalamazoo. He is survived by his wife Phyllis; four children: Rick (Linda Swihart) Westerman, Perry (Jennifer) Westerman, Kathryn Amber Westerman and Carolyn Kaila (Trung Bui) Westerman; six grandchildren: Robert (Gina) Wolf, Kame (Matt) Erdman, India Gilham-Westerman, Solomon Westerman, Lauren Westerman and Michelle (Luke) Berry; a great-grandchild, Kora Erdman; a sister, Carol Westerman; a sister-in-law, Phyllis Perry; three nieces and a nephew. A Celebration of Life Service will be held at 11 AM on Saturday (Mar. 31) at the Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive; Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900. A reception will follow in the Life Story Center. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Talons Out Honor Flight or Lending Hands. Please visit Dr. Westerman’s personal webpage at www.BetzlerFuneralHome.com where you can archive a favorite memory or photo of him and sign his online guestbook.