Monday, January 23, 2017
5:00 PM to 8:00 PM EST
Life Story Funeral Homes - Betzler
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Food and drinks will be served.
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.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
All who knew Michael L. Chojnowski would agree that he was extraordinary. He was warm and outgoing with a spirit of generosity that was truly limitless. Mike was well respected in his community, and his strong moral principles were woven throughout everything he did. A more devoted family man would be hard to find, and there was nothing he cherished more than being a husband, father, and grandfather. Someone who loved being outside and playing with his kids, whether biking or on the slopes, Mike was also content tinkering around his home or in the yard. Deeply loved, he will be forever missed.
Michael Lee Chojnowski was born on May 17, 1945, in Detroit, Michigan to Mitchell and Janet (Schlobohm) Chojnowski. He was raised on Brooke Drive in Kalamazoo where his family had a farm. He was the youngest of three children, sister Linda Jo and brother Larry D. He lived next to his grandparents and many other extended family. When Mike was 16, the Chojnowski family moved to Gull Lake where his grandparents had a cottage.
In many ways Mike was a a young boy of his generation. His father owned Mitch’s Standard Service Station on W. Michigan Avenue. Mike was a typical boy who loved exploring and playing in the woods. Mike learned to fish from his father who was an amazing fisherman and fished all around the world. He loved to play baseball and basketball as well. Mike attended University High in Kalamazoo. As a teen, Mike’s favorite job was helping his father at the station. He learned a thing or two about cars from the station and loved to build go-karts and race them. Later on he said that working for his Dad was his favorite job.
After graduating from high school in 1963, Mike went to Colorado State University where he pursued a mechanical engineering degree. Mike loved skiing and the mountains. A gifted writer, Mike went to Syracuse University for one semester to pursue journalism. He missed the mountains and moved back to Colorado State to finish his studies in mechanical engineering. He later realized it was fate, because soon after his return, he met Margaret Jo. The sweethearts were married on August 13, 1966, at St. Louis Church in Denver. The newlyweds both transferred to Michigan State University to save money where he graduated with a mechanical engineering degree and she a degree in dietetics. They then moved back to Denver where he was an engineer for Martin Marietta. A year or so later, he decided he wanted to be his own boss so he applied for law school. This marked the beginning of his career path in law.
Having moved back to Michigan, Mike joined the Air National Guard to be a pilot. From there he went to law school at the University of Michigan, graduating two and a half years later. After graduation, they moved to Richland where they built a house in Wildwood. Mike started his law practice with Brown, Coleman & DeMent. He subsequently worked at Miller Canfield, Howard and Howard, and finally Cooper, Martin and Chojnowski, LLC. He retired in 2011. Mike had many noteworthy clients and was instrumental in many real estate projects in the area, including the WMU BTU Park, KVCC Education Park, the Chrysler Corporation, the Diocese of Kalamazoo, Borgess Hospital, and Bronson Methodist Hospital.
First and foremost in Mike’s life was always his family. Mike and Margaret welcomed three children including Christian, Nicol, and Melanie into their hearts and home. While growing up Mike’s children loved greeting him at the door, and his kids were his number one passion. They were an active family who enjoyed many activities together. They loved to ski, swim, play tennis, hike, boat and travel. They often traveled to Colorado as a family to ski and visit extended family. Mike and his wife, whom he affectionately called Margie or Jo, played tennis, hiked, and went boating together, and enjoyed a trip to Hawaii, Alaska, and Rome. Mike always loved the mountains, and every year they went with their ski group out West somewhere. Mike was a passionate Red Wings fan. He couldn’t believe it when the Red Wings won the Stanley cup on his daughter’s wedding day - it was quite a party! Mike also loved road biking, cross-country skiing, Margaret’s cooking, and grilling. The only thing more important to him than his family was his faith. Mike become a Catholic while away at boot camp, which was such a special surprise for his wife. Faith played a central role in his life, and he sought his faith when he faced decisions and trying times. Mike was known for reminding himself and others to “pray harder.”
Throughout his life Mike maintained an active lifestyle until his health no longer allowed. As an adult, he became an avid road biker and competed in some bike/run events. He later got his kids involved in biking as well. He completed an Olympic triathlon one year after the death of his beloved daughter, Melanie, in her honor. He worked out in his home gym, to stay in shape for his coveted ski trips. Mike could fix or engineer anything, and he loved tinkering around the house and working in his yard. Within his community he was on several boards including Catholic Charities, the Borgess Foundation, St. Ann’s Parish Council, and the Kalamazoo Drug and Abuse Council. When relaxing, Mike loved reading books and music, especially listening to old vinyls.
Described as hardworking, authentic, and straightforward, Michael Chojnowski brought the world around him to life. A friend of Mike’s was a friend for life, and he was generous both in and out of the workplace. Positive until the end, he created a timeless legacy that his loved ones will proudly carry on in his footsteps.
Michael L. Chojnowski, of Gull Lake, died January 19, 2017 at New Friends, Kalamazoo. He was born May 17, 1945 in Detroit, the son of Mitchell and Janet (Schlobohm) Chojnowski. Mike practiced law for over 40 years, specializing in real-estate. He was preceded in death by daughter, Melanie Chojnowski in 2004 and sister, Linda Jo Berkel. Surviving are his wife of 50 years, Margaret Jo Chojnowski; 2 children: Christian Chojnowski and Nicol (Dr. Sean) O’Brien; 4 grandchildren: Alexandra, Kellen, Isabella and Brady O’Brien; brother, Larry (Mary Jo) Chojnowski and many nieces and nephews. Visit with family and friends while sharing food and drinks on Monday from 5-8pm at Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Dr. Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Tuesday 11am at St. Ann Catholic Church where a rosary will be recited starting at 10:45am. A luncheon will follow the mass in the church hall. Burial will take place in Yorkville Cemetery. Please visit Mike’s personal web page at www.BetzlerFuneralHome.com, where you can read his story, archive a favorite memory or photo and sign his online guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to St. Ann’s St. Vincent DePaul or Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan.
The family of Mike Chojnowski extends its most heartfelt gratitude to all who supported Mike and his family through the many months of his illness. Your visits, love, and prayers were, and are, deeply appreciated.
A special thank you to all the caregivers at New Friends and Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan. Your loving kindness and respect for Mike’s dignity were remarkable.