Jim Blank

November 7, 1942 - April 9, 2015
Portage, MI



Sunday, April 12, 2015
3:00 PM to 5:00 PM EDT
Life Story Funeral Homes - Betzler
Kalamazoo Location
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
(269) 375-2900

Food and refreshments will be served.

Driving Directions


Monday, April 13, 2015
10:00 AM EDT
Mt. EverRest Cemetery
3941 S Westnedge Ave.
Kalamazoo, MI 49008


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.

Center for Disability Services
WMU-1101 Oliver Street
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
(269) 387-7200


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


James “Jim” Blank was full of life. Feisty and funny, he staged scenes that would attract the attention he loved. Whereas some might wonder how he could live with substantial limitations, Jim showed a strength and resilience that was enviable.

James was born November 7, 1942 in Kalamazoo, Michigan, the youngest child of Russell and Velma (Pillars) Blank. At birth he was barely alive, but he survived the trauma and lived for more than seven decades. His mental impairments were severe, so his enjoyment of life was all the more profound. He was animated, humorous and loving.

Jim’s father worked as a custodian in one of the many paper mills of Kalamazoo while his mother stayed home to care for seven children, especially Jim, who needed full time attention. It was fitting that he had a dog as a companion when he was young. Pets can be very sensitive to human behavior and have a soothing effect on people with medical conditions.

As time went on, the family could not care for Jim’s growing needs, and he entered Coldwater State Home at age eleven. In his early 20s, Jim moved into ROI (Residential Opportunity Inc.) in Kalamazoo and made it his home for 30+ years. Within those years, he managed to go on a cruise to Mexico and thoroughly enjoyed the food, drink and lovely women. Then he was able to live in his own apartment with staffing from CDS (Center for Disability Services). He thrived under the independence and his personality sparkled.

Jim liked to play, whether it was baseball and football or play-acting. He routinely emulated movie stars and rock idols such as John Wayne and Elvis Presley. He walked around with a cowboy hat, a sheriff’s badge (at all times) and toy guns, pretending to rob a bank or fall down dead in a shoot-out and declaring, “Oh, he dead.” Other times, he played “air guitar” to Elvis singing “Baby” and “Hound Dog.” Little wonder that another one of Jim’s favorite pastimes was playing on the drum kit that was set up at Marshall Music store.

When Jim began to suffer from dementia, it was imperative that he move back with ROI. Jim was always fond of the ladies, and snacks like popcorn, root beer, cheese-o, crackers and cheese were high on his list of heavenly foods. On his birthday, he indulged in one other treat: an O’Douls beer. In general, Jim was a root beer lover. He routinely ordered the drink with a McDonald’s hamburger, but a crowning moment came when he went to a bar and was served root beer in a frosted mug.

Jim liked the idea of celebrating, especially when he had money in his pocket. He preferred getting cash in $1 bills. Never mind a 10 and a 20, he’d rather have the money in 30 singles, because the more bills he had the richer he felt. If he became a millionaire, he would want to be handed a million singles.

Jim’s character traits and antics were played out in front of Stacy and Mike Weber. For 15 years they cared for him and made him part of their family. To their kids, Jim was “Gramps.”

Most recently, Jim lost hearing and sight and was wheelchair bound for the last few years. In declining health, he was placed under the care of hospice and caregivers.

James “Jim” Blank, age 72 of Portage, Michigan, died Thursday, April 9, 2015 at his home. He was preceded in death by 5 siblings. Jim is survived by his sister, Frannie Blank, many nieces and nephews, “Ma and Bill” – Stacy and Mike Weber and their children; ROI, CDS and Schuring staff and residence. Visit with family and friends while sharing food and refreshments on Sunday from 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM at the Life Story Funeral Homes, Betzler – Kalamazoo; 6080 Stadium Drive (269-375-2900). Graveside services will be held Monday 10:00 AM at Mt. EverRest Cemetery. Please visit Jim’s personal web page at www.lifestorynet.com, where you can archive a favorite memory or photo of him and sign his online guestbook before coming to the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made to CDS.