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Life Story / Obituary
A stranger to none and a friend of many, Chuck Krohn was a likable man who could strike up a conversation with anyone. Although a little stubborn and set in his ways, he liked conversing about nearly everything from war stories to news of the day. Chuck honorably served his country in two wars for which he was proud, and his community as a public servant. For those who knew and loved him, Chuck will be fondly remembered.
Born on November 14, 1925 in Trowbridge Township, John Charles “Chuck” Krohn was the firstborn child of William and Marion (Gilbert) Krohn. A time of rapid growth in the U.S., the Chrysler auto firm was founded and the Mount Rushmore National Monument was dedicated as families flocked to the area on vacations. Baseball was America’s favorite pastime at a time when Chaplin movies were all the rage. The oldest of eventually five children, Chuck later welcomed his younger siblings, Eugene, Carolyn, Kay, and Billy. To support their growing family, Chuck’s father worked as an electrician while his mother remained at home as a busy homemaker.
Although times were lean during the Great Depression, Chuck enjoyed a boyhood typical of his generation. He shared many adventures with his brothers, especially when hunting for deer, birds, and other small game. During his youth, Chuck worked on his grandfather and uncle’s farm in Gobles where they raised cattle and pigs. Having attended Kalamazoo Public Schools, Chuck felt the call to duty as a young man during World War II. With his parent’s written permission, he left his schooling behind at the age of 17 to enlist in the U.S. Navy.
From his rural homeland in Michigan to the waters engulfed in war, Chuck grew up quite quickly as he was thrust into harms way. He served on the USS Wake Island in the South Pacific during World War II, but it was while on leave during the war when Chuck met the gal of his dreams, Margaret Cooley. A whirlwind romance, they fell in love and were happily married on December 12, 1945 at the war’s thankful end. After setting up house, Chuck and Margaret soon shared the love of children in their lives. Connie came along in 1949, and Charlie followed soon after in 1950.
After his honorable discharge, Chuck returned home to his family. His dad and his brothers helped him build their home at 540 Lum Avenue on Kalamazoo’s east side in 1962 which they filled with priceless memories. When duty once again called upon Chuck during the Korean War, he did so with honor. Although he narrowly escaped unharmed during World War II, it was not true for him during the Korean War. Stationed on the USS Wasp aircraft carrier, Chuck was a fireman and kept the engines running efficiently. On one particular night in 1952, Chuck became a survivor of the horrific collision between his ship and the USS Hobson, a U.S. Navy destroyer. Having to remain in the engine room to keep the engines going, over a 170 men died, all from the Hobson. Even though Chuck was not injured, he carried the demise of that fateful night with him for the rest of his days. From 2006 to 2010, Chuck had the opportunity to attend reunions with his comrades from the USS Wasp.
In his early years after the war, Chuck began working at a local paper mill and served as a volunteer fireman at the Eastwood fire house. He quit the paper mill, and deciding to do what he knew best, in 1957 he took a full-time position as assistant chief to the various fire stations in rotation throughout Kalamazoo County. In 1962, he became chief of the Northwood Fire Station in Kalamazoo Township until retiring in 1987.
The family enjoyed trips up north to Mackinaw Island, the Upper Peninsula, and the falls. Chuck favored the Detroit Tigers and he even went to a few games over the years. He especially liked going to the drive-in which made for fun-filled times with the kids. Chuck had a gift for gab, even with total strangers. He also liked a good cold Budweiser, and a meat and potatoes kind of guy, he never liked leftovers. A self-proclaimed master of the grill, Chuck would undoubtedly wander off to have a conversation and the food would burn!
Chuck and Margaret were avid bowlers. They played on several leagues, and without fail, every Tuesday, Friday, and every other Sunday for years. They enjoyed going out dancing with friends at the area dance halls, and Chuck liked going to the stock car races, too. He maintained a small vegetable garden, and when grandchildren came along, he thoroughly enjoyed spending time with them.
In the late 1960s and into the 1970s, Chuck and Margaret loved taking their camper trailer to Florida every year to visit friends. They began spending some time in Florida, as well, and they liked camping in Decatur during the months of summer. In fact, when he first retired, Chuck wanted to just live in their camper and travel around. It was in 1988 when he and Margaret moved to Decatur where they put a home on their daughter's property.
When Chuck’s beloved Margaret suffered an aneurysm in 1991, life as they knew it forever changed. After her death in 1994 due to complications, Chuck was grateful to have the help from his daughter nearby. He carried on the best way he knew how remaining very social. Chuck met his second wife, Pat Carpenter at church. The best of companions, they were married on December 17, 1995. Although they divorced a few years later, they remained good friends.
Chuck spent time watching old westerns and war movies. For years he joined “the boys” for coffee from 10 to 11 am at the M-40 Bar. A generous fellow, Chuck never hesitated to use his time and talents to help someone, and he enjoyed helping his son at the flea-markets. Especially after Margaret’s death and his divorce, Chuck needed something to fill his time. He worked at the truck stop gas station in Mattawan before getting a job as a gas station cashier at the West Main Meijer. A few heart attacks over the past few years slowed Chuck down some, yet his stubborn nature always saw him through.
An honorable Veteran, Chuck Krohn was a hard working and devoted man to those entrusted to his care. He loved his family dearly, and in them he found his greatest joy. Deeply missed, Chuck will be remembered for all that he was and more.
John Charles “Chuck” Krohn, age 90 of Decatur, and formerly of Kalamazoo, died peacefully on Thursday, October 27, 2016, at his home. He was preceded in death by his wife, Margaret E. Krohn (Cooley); brother, Eugene Krohn; sister, Carolyn Bevins, and great-grandson, Tommy Phillips. Surviving are his two children: Connie (Tom) McIntyre and Charles E. Krohn; four grandchildren: Douglas (Terry) McIntyre, Steve McIntyre, Elizabeth Phillips, and Matthew Krohn; six great-grandchildren: Douglas Jr. (Emily) McIntyre, Tyler Drummin, MacKenzie Krohn, Katie Krohn, Alisha Phillips, and Brandon Phillips; and great-great-grandson, Leo McIntyre; his sister, Kay (Elroy) Randall; brother, Billy Krohn; sister-in-law, Sally Krohn; and many nieces and nephews. Services will be held Tuesday, November 1, 2016, 11:00 AM at Betzler & Thompson Life Story Funeral Home, 60900 M-40; Paw Paw (269) 657-3870 with visitation beginning at 10:00 AM. Burial will take place at Mt. EverRest North Cemetery followed by a luncheon at the Decatur VFW. Please visit Chuck’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 contributions may be made to Great Lakes Caring Hospice or the Decatur Food Pantry.