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.
Prader-Willi Syndrome Association of Michigan
8588 Potter Park Drive, Suite 500
Sarasota, FL 34238
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
James Smith was an exceptional human being. A true nature lover, a music connoisseur, and the owner of one of the most infectious smiles, James’ lived his life loving each and every one he met unconditionally. He was kind beyond measure and saw the good in everyone. His laughter could fill up any room and he was often the life of the party. Taken too soon, James leaves behind many wonderful memories for his family and friends to cherish lovingly in their hearts forever.
Reflecting on the year 1993, the first bag less vacuum cleaner, Intel introduced the Pentium Processor, and the World Wide Web was born! Jerald “Bert” and Debra (Pontius) Smith welcomed home with pride their newborn son, James on Saturday, October 16th. James brought great joy into their lives. Born the youngest of eight children, his birth was a bit of a surprise when he arrived unexpectedly at home! James had a rough start with several trips in and out of the hospital, yet his loving siblings were eager to take turns caring for him.
By the tender age of three years old, doctors finally arrived at a diagnosis of Prader- Willi syndrome; a complex genetic condition that affects many parts of the body and would keep him tied to several hospital stays in his early years. Despite his journey with his debilitating illness, James had an adventurous spirit! As a young boy, he very much enjoyed playing outdoors and in the woods and had no fear when it came to exploration. Given any opportunity, he could be found outdoors taking nature walks and running the neighborhood with his older siblings. As much as he enjoyed the outdoors, he didn’t like bugs of any kind! James did, however, absolutely love school! Starting out his elementary career as a Haverhill Hornet, he played Little League with the Challenger Division for a number of years. Later, he moved on to Portage North Middle and Portage Central High before proudly graduating as a Husky from Portage Northern High School with the Class of 2012. James’ warm personality was fondly remembered by his classmates and he thrived during his school years. There simply wasn’t anything that James didn’t enjoy learning about.
Hard to know when his strong passion for music first began, but over the course of his lifetime, James had collected over two hundred CDs in what appeared to be an outstanding collection of his favorite musicians. He loved to dance and listen to music for hours on end. In addition to his collection of music, he also was a proud collector of the Fur Real pets and Furbies that were all the rage in the late 90’s. When he wasn’t playing his favorite music or taking long nature walks, he was glued to the WWE Network where he would cheer on his favorite wrestler of all time; John Cena. James enjoyed the thrill of each of the superstars taking to the ring to provide hours of entertainment and excitement. However, no matter what, he always paused each evening exactly at seven o’clock to catch the Wheel of Fortune game show with his mother. It was their special time together and became known as their nightly date. In addition to his love of Wheel of Fortune, he also enjoyed watching episodes of Finding Bigfoot as well as any scary TV shows he could come across. He also loved C.S.I so much so that he got the video game for Christmas and could be seen in his CSI cap and flashlight playing it for hours
So much could be said about a person like James who had a sincere compassion for everyone. James was a fun-loving, energetic young man who adored his family and friends. He was such a gentle and loving person who would go out of his way for any family member or friend in need. When someone was saddened or distressed, James displayed a genuine concern for them and would often be the first person to reach out and comfort others with his naturally calming presence. He modeled a lifetime of living in the present, accepting what is without worry, and living each and every day to its absolute fullest. Described as having a great sense of humor, often playing the jokester at family occasions and gatherings, as well as being full of life, James’ presence among those he loved will be greatly missed and lovingly remembered for years to come.
James Matthew Smith, age 23, of Portage, died on Saturday, March 11, 2017 at Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo. Surviving members of his family include his parents Bert and Debra Smith, 7 brothers and sisters: Laura Simmons (fiancée Danny Davis), Mindy (Paul) Fox, Michael Simmons (fiancée Susan Collins) Catheryn (Joe) Knieper, Tim Smith ( fiancée Ashley Donlin), Steven (Heather) Smith and David Smith. Other members of his family include his 2 Grandmothers: Edith Pontius and Orma Smith his 8 nieces and nephews: Brandon, Johnathan, Vincent, Kaelyn, Emmitt, Ella, Kol, Bria. James was preceded in death by his grandfathers Maurice Pontius and Jareld Smith and an uncle David Pontius. Services will be held at 11 am on Friday at the Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive; Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900. The family will receive friends one hour prior to the service. Please visit James personal web page at www.BetzlerFuneralHome.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 Prader-Willi Foundation.