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Life Story / Obituary
Michael J. Parent was hardworking, generous and kind. He thought of others before himself and showed love and understanding toward his family and all those around him. He listened from the heart and put a premium on relationships. It was Mike's nature to be caring, and he lived out that quality every day of his life.
Mike was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan during a period of American peace and prosperity. Growth in industry and the job market gave workers an opportunity to build homes and start families that launched the baby boom era. Charles and Dorothy (Muhlstein) Parent and their 3-year old son David welcomed baby Michael into their lives on October 30, 1953.
Growing up, Mike was always taken with nature and took in numerous animals. His love for pets started with his family dog, Huckleberry, the beagle. Later in life he developed a special place in his heart for cats. He had PeeKee and Sissy at home and his Sweetie Pie at the lake, amongst a variety of other adopted strays. He also loved birds and maintained numerous feeders, which was another way he demonstrated his love for nature.
He loved spending time at Duck Lake. Mike grew up going there to the family cottage; spending time water skiing, boating and enjoying time with his family and friends. In the early years, it wouldn't be uncommon to see him cruising around the lake with his brother, Dave, and his best friend, Dale. He eventually bought his own cottage on the lake and has spent a lot of his weekends carrying on this tradition with Dale and Nick. As well as renovating his cottage and tinkering with his many boats... he loved his blue deck boat!
Mike graduated from Portage Northern High School in 1971. He tried his hand at the family snack food business as well as sales for Klose Electric. These endeavors led him to Stryker Instruments in 1979. Mike was very successful there and built many friendships, for over 30 years. He retired in 2013 as the Lead Test Lab Tech.
Mike’s further enjoyment of life was evident when he met Kathleen Wolthuis. Their first encounter came when she was on a date with one of his friends, but they soon discovered their common interests and humor. Kathy was the love of his life. When they fell in love, Kathy was already the proud mother of three sons—Joe, Chris and Ron. Mike instantly became a family man the day the two of them married on June 26, 1982, fittingly at the Kalamazoo Nature Center. Although Mike was new to parenting, he regarded the boys as his own. Later that love extended to the boy's children. His grandchildren were very important to him, even more so after Kathy's passing in 2012.
In addition to nature and the lake, Mike had a passion for cars. This started in his childhood, when he would eagerly await the annual Life Magazine new car addition. When he was a child he collected model cars which he was later able to carry out with actual cars, throughout his adulthood. He gave himself the gift of a new bright red T-bird when he neared retirement in 2013. This car gave him a lot of joy and revived his collector passion. With more free time, he also took up cooking and had fun preparing tasty meals that were also wholesome. Most recently, he fixed a nice homemade meal and angel-food cake for his brother. He and Dave spent Wednesdays with their mom, and Mike and she often watched golf on TV. He liked Tiger Woods and she cheered for Phil Michelson, but for the most part, watching sports was just about being together. On his own time, Mike liked to listen to music and his diverse taste ranged between Annie Lennox, Sinatra, Jimmy Buffet, Pasty Klein, country and the blues.
Mike will be missed and fondly remembered by his family and friends who knew him as a selfless and compassionate man.
Michael J. Parent, age 61 of Paw Paw, Michigan, died on Monday, February 16, 2015 in Kalamazoo. He was preceded in death by his wife, Kathleen Parent in 2012; his father, Charles Parent; and step-son, Ron Wolthuis. Members of his family include his mother, Dorothy Parent; brother, David Parent; step-sons: Joe and Chris Wolthuis; several grandchildren; and niece and nephews: Michelle Parent, Mike (Tara) Parent, Donald Parent and Charlie (Taylar) Parent. Visit with family and friends while sharing food and refreshments on Friday from 5:00 – 8:00 PM at the Life Story Funeral Home, Betzler-Kalamazoo, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo 269-375-2900. Graveside services will take place Saturday 2:00 PM at Grand Prairie Cemetery. Please visit Mike’s personal memory page at www.lifestorynet.com where you can read his life story, archive a favorite memory or photo and sign his guestbook before coming to the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society www.lls.org or www.alleycat.org