Friday, November 13, 2015
5:00 PM to 8:00 PM EST
Life Story Funeral Homes - Betzler
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Refreshments 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.
Wounded Warrior Project
P.O. Nox 758517
Topeka, KS 66675
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Throughout his rich and rewarding life, Philip Wurtzel embraced so many enriching experiences, but nothing was better than sharing the things he loved with the people he loved. He was incredibly hardworking and highly respected among everyone who knew him, and his drive to succeed in everything he did was truly inspiring. Blessed to share 55 years with the love of his life, Phil was so thrilled to witness his family tree blossom to include numerous branches of loved ones who were his greatest source of pride and joy. Although he accomplished so much of which to be proud, Phil was a humble man who loved nothing more than helping those around him in ways both great and small. Deeply loved, he will be forever missed.
The 1930s were very much defined by the Great Depression. With a soaring unemployment rate and work that was hard to find, nearly every American family felt the strain. Despite the hardship around them, Edward and Anna (McInnis) Wurtzel were delighted to announce the birth of the baby boy they named Phillip Edward on May 2, 1932, in Freeland, Michigan. The youngest of 10 children, he was joined in his family by his siblings, Mary, Fred, Alice, Edmund, Arthur, Kathryn, Donald, Dorothy, and Joseph. Phil’s father was a farmer in the Saginaw area while his mother was a busy homemaker. Phil helped out on the farm some, but he didn’t like milking the cows. In his free time, he loved playing baseball and started at 3rd base all through high school.
After graduating from St. Peter and Paul High School in 1950, Phil was eager for all that life had in store. He attended Wayne State University with a focus on pharmaceuticals, but after six months he had no more money to continue. Phil then enlisted in the United States Air Force, serving for two years. His time in the military was spent in telecommunications, and he was stationed in England. Phil was proud to serve his country during the Korean Conflict.
Always willing to work hard, Phil had a successful career. He started out working at Dow Corning and later worked at Lafayette Tool and Die. In 1961, Phil started at Telford and Doolen in sales where he was the top salesperson until leaving in 1969 to become Vice President of Carleton Equipment Company in Kalamazoo. He served as Vice President until 1977 when he took over as President and joined with his business partner and friend, Howard R Simmons, running the business for almost 40 years. Even until his last days he remained very active there and was thrilled to have two of his boys work there, too. While there, Phil helped grow Carleton Equipment into Michigan’s largest Bobcat, Doosan and Kubota dealership with six locations and over 100 employees. Phil also served on the Bobcat Advisory Council for a time as well.
New and exciting changes were in store for Phil when he met the woman of his dreams. Her name was Catherine Friel, and they were introduced by a friend. She was working at Ford in Detroit at the time, and he asked her out while at a bar in Bay Port. That date led to more dates, and two years later they were married on April 23, 1960, at St. Thomas Aquinas in Saginaw. The newlyweds then spent a week in Hollywood, Florida. They initially settled in Detroit, and in 1961 they moved to Kalamazoo so Phil could start at Telford and Doolen. They set about building a house in Scotts, Phil was actively involved in the process, and this was their final home. Together Phil and Catherine were blessed with the births of five children including Ann, Kathryn, Philip, Steve, and Ryan. He was active in the lives of his children and loved holding and rocking them when they were little. Phil was there for whatever his kids needed and taught them valuable lessons like how to mow, how to work hard, and how to love others. Phil had a small farm just so the kids could participate in 4-H. He attended as many of his children’s activities as he could, and he later did the same for his grandchildren. Phil never needed to yell, rather, his children knew that he was upset when he gritted his teeth and folded his arms!
Throughout his life Phil was a man who was always busy. His work required extensive travel, and over time he made it to every state but Alaska. They went to Scotland to see some of Catherine’s family members, and they made numerous new friends there, too. They loved their lake home in Athens. Although Phil loved fish, he didn't love fishing! They also had a place down in New Port Richey, Florida, where he loved going to the horse races with Catherine on Saturday mornings. Both he and Catherine also loved having card parties with a few drinks every Thursday with all their friends. Their Saturday morning routine consisted of breakfast at Cracker Barrel followed by game-time at the casino where he played black jack. Phil always had a time limit there and knew when to walk away - usually as a winner! He enjoyed baseball and was a Tigers fan who also played baseball with all his kids. Phil was a fan of Notre Dame, Michigan State University and even the Lions despite their record. Phil was also a proud member of The Beacon Club and enjoyed having 2 Coney Dogs with double mustard and onions at Coney Island in Kalamazoo only! Around home he enjoyed mowing their two acres of yard, and he was a stickler when it came to others taking care of their cars despite the fact that he was neglectful of recommended oil change intervals, which he believed to be every 45,000 miles. Phil kept up with technology and was always watching Fox News and also enjoyed reading the Wall Street Journal. He was amazing with the stock market and took care of his own trades, and as a smart and savvy businessman he took care of many things with his business as well. Within his community, Phil was a past president of the Galesburg Rotary Club (Paul Harris Fellow), past president of the Climax-Scotts School Board, member of the Knights of Columbus Council 1616, and member of the American Legion Post #465.
With unending devotion to the people he loved, Philip Wurtzel was a blessing to everyone he met. He was the ultimate storyteller whose jokes only got better over time. Phil was a devoted husband and father who was such an amazing example of what it really means to be successful. Although he will be deeply missed, his memory will remain a lasting treasure for generations to come.
Philip Edward Wurtzel, of Scotts, died November 9, 2015, in Kalamazoo. Phil’s family includes his wife, Catherine Wurtzel; 5 children: Ann (Shawn) Gloden, Kathryn (Buck) Rauch, Philip (Darcye) Wurtzel, Steve (Angie) Wurtzel and Ryan (Heather) Wurtzel; 11 grandchildren: Courtney, Nicole, Rebecca, Heather, Matthew, Jack, Liam, Maximus, Alexander, Madison and Mackenzie; a great-grandson, Jace; beloved sister, Dorothy Murin; many wonderful nieces and nephews; and longtime business partner and friend, Howard R. Simmons. Phil was preceded in death by 8 siblings: Mary Healander, Fred Wurtzel, Alice MacRae, Edmund Wurtzel, Arthur Wurtzel, Kathryn Kossak, Donald Wurtzel and Joseph Wurtzel. Visit with family and friends while sharing food and refreshments on Friday from 5- 8 PM at the Life Story Funeral Home, Betzler-Kalamazoo, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo 375-2900. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Saturday at 11 AM at St. Martin of Tours, Vicksburg. Burial will follow at Cook Cemetery, Scotts. A reception will then be held at 1:30 PM at the Scotts Community Center, 8450 S 36th St, Scotts. Food and drinks provided. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com where you can archive a favorite memory or photo and sign his guestbook before coming to the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made to the Wounded Warriors Project or the American Cancer Society. The family would like to extend their heartfelt thank you to Dr. Jim and Lori Stepanski, Dr. Keith Bailey and the West Michigan Cancer staff, Dr. Sarah Hughes and the staff and nurses of Bronson Methodist Hospital-4 West GMU; they would also like to thank all of Phil’s friends, employees and customers both past and present for their support throughout his life.