Jim Tripp

April 17, 1953 - December 25, 2015
Kalamazoo, MI



Saturday, February 13, 2016
3:00 PM to 6:00 PM EST
Life Story Funeral Homes - Betzler
Kalamazoo Location
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
(269) 375-2900

Food and beverages will be served.

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.

Reverence Home Health & Hospice
1521 Gull Rd., Ste 405
Kalamazoo, MI 49048
(269) 343-1396
Driving Directions
Web Site

Wounded Warrior Project
PO BOX 758517
Topeka, KS 66675
Web Site


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


Although his life came to an end much too soon, Jim Tripp made a significant impact in the lives of everyone he met. He was a hardworking man of great strength and courage, yet his heart was also warm and tender when it came to the ones he loved. Jim was a sports fan through and through, and he was also an athlete himself when he was able. It was no secret that he viewed the day his daughter was born to be the best day of his life as she was his greatest source of pride and joy. Life will never be the same without Jim here, but he leaves behind a timeless legacy that will remain alive and well in the hearts of all who were blessed to know and love him.

It seems only fitting that Jim’s journey began during a time that was as vibrant as he was. It was the 1950s when shows like I Love Lucy and Father Knows Best gave different definitions to the American family while James Dean frequented the silver screen. Elvis Presley became a household name, and by the end of the 1950s Alaska and Hawaii had become our 49th and 50th states. It was in 1953 that Raymond and Corinne (Griffith) Tripp were pleased to announce the birth of the baby boy they named Jim on April 17th in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He was raised in the family home on Lay Boulevard alongside his younger sister, Susan, who was five years his junior. While growing up Jim was always very protective of Susan.

In many ways, Jim was a young boy of his generation. His parents both worked at Upjohn to support their family. He was active and spirited as a young boy, which isn’t really all that surprising if you know Jim. He played the drums in the marching band as a student at Loy Norrix High School, and Jim also played football and was a swimmer on the state championship swim team.

After graduating from high school in 1971, Jim and his buddy, Scott Randall, had their sights set on making a mark on the world and left Michigan. The pair spent a couple of years out in California. From there Jim moved to Florida, and it was there that he met and married Valerie Long in 1978. Although their marriage later ended in divorce, Jim was forever grateful for their daughter, Erin, as she was the light of his life. He remained in Florida until 1987, but with a desire to be closer to family he returned to Michigan.

New and exciting changes were in store for Jim when he met the love of his life. Her name was Pam McMakin, and they met at the bowling alley through Pam's sister Nancy. They were true soul mates, and Jim became a father figure to Pam’s son, Ben. For the rest of his life he was very focused on caring for Ben as he needed much attention. Jim was also very close to his niece and nephew, Amie and Brian. He was so proud of Brian’s military service and enjoyed seeing Amie on Western Michigan’s campus where he worked. Jim was especially close to his cousin Bob and his wife Berta; Bob was the brother Jim never had and they enjoyed doing many things together. Saturdays at Shakespeare's with Bob and Berta meant everything to Jim and attending family functions together kept things lively.

Throughout his life Jim was one to always be doing something. He spent some time working at National Waterlift, and since 2001 he had been at Western Michigan University where he worked as a painter. Jim loved his work there and took great pride in his work. He was also very handy around the house and made sure that everything was always immaculate. Jim was often puttering around the house, making improvements whether outside or inside. He loved to barbecue and really knew his way around the kitchen as well. He enjoyed going to rock concerts for rockers like Springsteen. Jim loved classic rock from the 60s, 70s, and 80s. He enjoyed watching racing at Kalamazoo Speedway, and he was a huge fan of NASCAR and cheering on his favorite driver, Jeff Gordon. He was an all around sports fan, especially when it came to Michigan sports teams including the Lions, Tigers, and the Red Wings. During the past 10 years, Jim took up golf, and it became his passion. He liked to fish, even taking a couple of trips to Canada as well as charters on Lake Michigan. Jim had been fishing since he was a little boy when his dad taught him to fish. He liked watching the History Channel and old westerns on television. Jim more recently got into photography. His health required him to stop working in 2014, and he had been eagerly awaiting a transplant. Despite these trials, his concern was always for Pam and Ben first and foremost.

All who knew Jim Tripp would agree that he was truly extraordinary. He was a calming influence who would always encourage others to stop worrying while enjoying the moment, and he did this in his own life as well. Jim was primarily quiet, but he was also very caring and compassionate. He lived a contented life, and his sense of humor made him so much fun to be around. Deeply loved, Jim will be forever missed.

Jim Tripp, of Kalamazoo, died on Friday, December 25, 2015. Jim’s family includes his long time companion, Pam McMakin; daughter, Erin Tripp; sister, Susan (Kevin) Murphy; step son, Ben McMakin; 2 grandchildren: Avanelle and Mara; and niece and nephew, Amie and Brian Murphy. An open to house to celebrate his life will be held from 3-6 p.m. on Saturday February 13th, 2016, at the Life Story Funeral Home, Betzler, 6080 Stadium Drive (375-2900). Please visit Jim’s personal memory page age www.lifestorynet.com where you can archive a favorite memory or photo and sign his guestbook. Memorial Contributions may be made to Reverence Hospice or the Wounded Warrior Project.