Emil S. Vos

May 3, 1969 - November 6, 2008
Kalamazoo, MI



Sunday, November 9, 2008
2:00 PM to 5:00 PM EST
Life Story Funeral Homes - Betzler
Kalamazoo Location
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
(269) 375-2900
Driving Directions


Monday, November 10, 2008
11:00 AM EST
Life Story Funeral Homes - Betzler
Kalamazoo Location
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
(269) 375-2900
Driving Directions


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.

Pet Resource Network Inc.
PO Box 3034
Kalamazoo, MI 49003


Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.

1830 S. Westnedge
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
(269) 349-4961
Driving Directions
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


Emil S. Vos was a man who loved life to its fullest. He loved to play, laugh, entertain, and travel, and was a true free spirit. He was intelligent and warm, and strived to show those he loved just how he felt about them. He made a strong impact on all who knew him and will be dearly missed by all those who knew and loved him.

Emil’s story began on May 3, 1969 in Salinas, CA, located just eight miles from the Pacific Ocean. The sixties were a transitional time for our nation. The movement away from the conservative fifties continued and eventually resulted in revolutionary ways of thinking and real change in the cultural fabric of American life. No longer content to be images of the generation ahead of them, young people wanted change. The changes affected education, values, lifestyles, laws, and entertainment. Many of the revolutionary ideas which began in the sixties are continuing to evolve today.

Emil was the older of two boys born to Jakob and Marianne Vos. His father worked for an international seed business which moved their family around quite a bit during Emil’s childhood years. They lived in Argentina and Costa Rica, which left Emil speaking only Spanish and Dutch for his early years. When his father’s job moved Emil and his brother Nils to the United States where they settled in Washington state, California, and then eventually to Michigan in 1979, Emil learned to speak English from watching Sesame Street. He even became so fluent in English that he pointed out the grammatical errors of others!

As a child, Emil gained a passion for swimming. He spent many summers swimming in Gull Lake and he loved the ocean. Anywhere the family traveled, he always wanted to be in the water. Even on a recent trip to Mexico, the chilly, unheated pool water didn't stop him!

Emil’s intelligence didn’t stop just with his language abilities. He loved reading anything he could get his hands on; everything from Egyptian history to Agatha Christie mysteries. He would often be reading three or four his books at a time and loved to discuss his findings around the dinner table with his family. His general knowledge gained through reading was shown when at the age of nine, he shared his knowledge of King Tut with others at a museum exhibit in Washington D.C. Even the museum staff learned a few bits of information from this young scholar.

Emil spent his junior and high school years in Richland, MI. The Richland community is located in western Michigan, about 11 miles northeast of Kalamazoo. While in high school, he played tennis and was co captain of the cross country team. He enjoyed just being part of a team. Emil went on to become part of the graduating class of 1987 from Gull Lake High School.

After high school, Emil attended Alma College. He enjoyed the freedom of being on his own for the first time and the camaraderie of being around like – minded people. He liked being involved in the many social activities that college has to offer, but also excelled in his studies. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Political Science, and Conflict Resolution and Peace Making.

After college graduation, Emil tried out law school in Washington D.C., but found that the atmosphere wasn’t a good fit for him. He found the classroom to be too rigid for his free –spirited, creative mind, and he moved back home to Kalamazoo. Once back in Kalamazoo, Emil continued his education and earned his masters degree in Public Administration from Western Michigan University.

Emil’s life changed when he was introduced by mutual friends to an intriguing young man named James, at a party in February, 1998. Their lives continued on in separate directions when James moved to London, desiring only a friendship with Emil at the time. Emil and James kept in contact through letters during their five months apart, until James returned to Kalamazoo in October, 1998. Emil and James then moved in together in January, 1999.

Emil again thought he would try out law school when he attended Cooley Law in 1999. He confirmed his earlier discovery that this just wasn’t the right place for him, and again didn’t finish law school.

Emil always found time to take in the things that he enjoyed. Ruby and Slater, their dogs adopted from the Pet Resource Network, provided much joy on their long walks through Parkview Hills. He loved and appreciated art, perhaps because he himself was not an artist. He loved to visit museums and travel with James. True to his free-spirited personality, Emil just enjoyed the actual traveling part, leaving James to handle all of the details.

Emil’s favorite time of the year was Christmas time. He loved finding the perfect gift for everyone on his list, and gained much pleasure from making the recipient feel loved and cherished. He sometimes made Christmas gifts for others, which spoke volumes about his genuine, sacrificial concern for them.

Emil’s concern for others also extended to his career path. In 2000, he worked for CDS and participated in the art program for developmentally disabled adults. In 2001, he worked for Residence Opportunity Inc. where he worked in a group home environment. He was particularly fond of a resident there named Charlie. Emil’s big heart shown through when he would take Charlie to the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts. He then spent the past four years of his life, working at a psychiatric hospital where he would work with schizophrenic and bipolar women. Emil’s career decisions always were based on his selfless desire to improve life for others.

Emil’s zest for life always seemed to leave him “in-between” jobs. He didn’t want work to get in the way of living his life. He loved socializing with people, whether he was just having a few friends over or hosting a party. He was an extremely extroverted person who always called it like he saw it. He was always honest and passionate about things he felt strongly about.

Emil S. Vos was a playful and fun-loving man who enjoyed having fun, but also helping others have fun. He brought light and life to everyone who crossed his path. His genuine compassion and concern for others was a gift to all that were part of his life, a gift that will be remembered and missed by all those he leaves behind.

Emil S. Vos, died suddenly on November 6, 2008. Emil’s family includes; his life partner of 11 years, James Ryan of Kalamazoo; his parents Jakob and Marianne Vos of Ojai, CA; and brother Nils Vos of Kalamazoo.

Visit with Emil’s family and friends on Sunday, November 9, 2008 from 2-5 p.m. at the Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes – Kalamazoo, MI, 6080 Stadium Drive, 375-2900. A funeral service will be held on Monday at 11:00 a.m. at the Betzler Life Story Funeral Home. Luncheon will follow at the family residence.

Please visit Emil’s memory page at www.lifestorynet.com where you can share a favorite memory.