Monday, August 22, 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.
Charity of Your Choice
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Throughout his rich and rewarding life, Garrett Kruizenga lived fully in each moment, celebrating each and every milestone of his loved ones. Although he accomplished so much of which to be proud, he was a humble man whose primary focus was always on those around him. Gary was a devoted family man who treasured his wife and children, and he was thrilled beyond measure when his family tree blossomed to include grandchildren and great-grandchildren, too. Described as resourceful, Gary was forever looking for ways to do things better no matter what they were. The sort of person everyone seemed to know, he will be deeply missed and forever remembered.
The 1930s were largely defined by the hardship of the Great Depression. Jobs were scarce, the unemployment rate soared, and nearly every American family felt the strain. It was in 1932 that Charles and Grace (Warner) Kruizenga were pleased to announce the birth of the baby boy they named Garrett W. on April 6, 1932, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He was the oldest of three children as he was raised alongside his brother, Charles, and his sister, Barbara. To support their family, Gary’s father made his career and founded RX Optical while his mother was a teacher in the Kalamazoo school system.
In many ways Gary was a typical young boy of his generation. The Kruizenga home was rooted in their Dutch ancestry, and Gary enjoyed things like hunting and fishing. He attended local schools and was a great athlete who played tennis and was also an amazing baseball player. Gary was a big guy with big arms who could switch-hit. His talent didn’t go unrecognized as he was able to try out for the Phillies. After graduating from high school in 1950, Gary was drafted into the Army and spent two years at Ft. Bragg during the days of the Korean Conflict. He was later discharged as a sergeant. A determined guy with a desire to get his school finished as soon as possible, Gary went to school at Tri-State University year-round, earning his aeronautical engineering degree in three years.
At first Gary worked in Marshall and started an archery shop in his house, but he later went to work for the W-L Molding Company in Kalamazoo. He worked there as an estimator and continued growing his skills, eventually becoming the president of the company. Gary retired in 1999 when his health necessitated.
Although his work was important to him, Gary really was all about family. He met his true love, Sue, while at work as she was a secretary there. They soon became good friends, and they eventually married in 1971, at Galesburg Methodist Church in a simple ceremony. Together they built a home in Kalamazoo where they lived for 20 years until Mark purchased it from them. It was easy to see that they were truly in love throughout their 45 year marriage. Gary was also an important part of his children’s lives. At first he wasn’t involved with their activities, but he later began coaching and eventually served as school board president at their school in Paw Paw. When it came to watching them play sports he was so nervous to watch, usually watching while pacing back and forth. Social and outgoing, Gary also knew all the parents and was always talking to someone there. He never really needed any hobbies of his own as he was always into whatever his family was into, although he did love packing a lunch and heading to South Haven to eat and watch the boats. They also traveled North in Michigan and also to Florida a few times. Gary was thrilled to become a grandfather, and he never missed a game or event they were a part of, even if it meant traveling several times a day. Everyone in Gary’s family always felt like they were the most important person in the world.
As his family and friends can attest, Gary was larger than life, and he was intimidated by no one. One example is the time he scalped some tickets to see Micheal Jordan and the Bulls for his daughter, Stacy. Not only did he get tickets, but he also talked to the security guys and the ushers and ended up sitting in box seats. The night was topped off when he called Michael Jordan over to meet Stacy, and they ended up getting treated like royalty. A longtime member of the community he loved, Gary was a member of the Lions, American Legion, and the Elks, and he loved playing Bingo. When it came to music, he enjoyed country music.
Life was not always easy for Gary. He lost his parents and brother, all to aortic aneurysms, and he suffered a major one as well. Gary had a brain bleed a couple of years later, and just like he always did, he made a full recovery. He also underwent an experimental surgery at the Cleveland Clinic and thrived afterwards.
All who knew Garrett Kruizenga would agree that he was the heartbeat of wherever he went. He was so much fun to be around, and he never met a stranger. It was easy to see that Gary’s greatest source of pride and joy was found in his family, and he loved being a part of the lives of his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Punctual, inventive, resourceful, and genuine, Gary’s zest for life was truly contagious. He will never be forgotten.
Garrett W. Kruizenga, of Kalamazoo/Paw Paw, died on August 14, 2016, at his home surrounded by his family. Gary’s family includes his wife, Sue; 5 children: Greg Kruizenga, Lori (Jerry) Marcinkowski, Joe (Kris) Kruizenga, Mark Kruizenga and Stacy (Brett) Lehto; 11 grandchildren; 4 great-grandchildren; sister, Barbara Kreuzer; and many nieces and nephews. Gary was preceded in death by a brother, Charles “Dutch,” and by a grandson, Jerry Marcinkowski. Cremation will take place. Visit with family and friends while sharing food and refreshments on Monday from 5-8 p.m. at Betzler Life Story Funeral Home - 6080 Stadium Dr. Kalamazoo- (269) 375-2900 where services will be held Tuesday at 11 a.m. Burial will at Ft. Custer National Cemetery followed by a reception at the family home. Please visit Gary’s personal web page at www.lifestorynet.com where you can archive a favorite memory or photo and sign his online guestbook before coming to the funeral home. Memorial donations may be made to Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan or charity of one’s choice.