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Life Story / Obituary
Taken from his loved ones too soon, Randy Kennedy was an extraordinary man to know and love. He was a free spirited guy who wasn’t afraid to do things his own way, and he was rarely seen without his shorts and flip flops. Randy was a devoted husband and father, but he just may have argued that becoming a grandfather was his richest reward. He has been described as meticulous, even a little OCD at times, but he was also able to see the good in everyone and in everything. Life will never be the same without Randy here, but he leaves behind a timeless legacy that his loved ones will proudly carry on in his footsteps.
It seems only fitting that Randy’s journey began during a time that was as colorful as he was. It was the 1950s when James Dean and Marilyn Monroe dominated the film industry, and with Elvis Presley’s introduction to rock ’n roll the music industry was never the same. These were primarily prosperous days, and it was with great celebration that we welcomed Alaska and Hawaii as our 49th 50th states. This was also a time of great anticipation in the lives of Dale and Eleanor (Dingman) Kennedy as they were eagerly awaiting the birth of their new baby as September dawned in Comstock, Michigan, in 1957. Their wait was over on September 21st when the baby boy they named Randy O. drew his first breath. He was the baby of the six Kennedy children as he was raised in the family home in Comstock alongside his siblings, Judy, Marilyn, Doug, Don, and Denny. Ten years younger than his nearest sibling, Randy’s older siblings helped raise him. Interestingly, Randy’s boyhood home is just a few streets over from where he lived now as he was a Comstock boy through and through.
In many ways Randy was a typical young boy of his generation. His parents both worked at Allied Paper, although his mother primarily focused her attention at home. The Kennedys made fantastic memories at their family cabin up North in the Upper Peninsula doing things like fishing, having bonfires, or just hanging out. Randy attended local schools including Comstock High School where he was an amazing golfer.
After graduating from high school in 1975, Randy was eager for all that life had in store. He started working as a pipe fitter at Allied Paper, and this was where he spent his entire 20 year career. Randy also took some classes at Kalamazoo Valley Community College. He was blessed to become a father with the births of his two daughters, Melissa and Jessica.
New and exciting changes were in store for Randy when he met the woman with whom he would share the best years of his life. Her name was Barb Beck, and they met at Stan and Ollies, a local bar where they they danced much of the night away. It didn’t take long for the sparks to fly since Barb knew that they would grow old together after the slow dance. They met in May of 1984, and it was on September 14, 1985, that they exchanged their vows in his sister Marilyn’s backyard by the pool. It was an all around great day since their wedding was during the U of M verses Notre Dame game, and U of M won. Of course they exchanged their vows during halftime.
Throughout his life Randy treasured his family. To their marriage Barb brought her son, Tom, and together he and his wife added two more sons, Josh in 1986 and Marc in 1991, into the family. Although Barb was from Portage, they raised their family in Comstock. As a Disney fanatic their home was decked out in all Disney, and they went there almost every other year. Later on Randy was filled with unspeakable joy to become a grandfather, and he was active in the lives of his granddaughters as much as possible. He would move heaven and earth for them, and he was there to babysit on a regular basis. When Alexis was little he took care of her full-time, and they have been so very close for that reason. Randy was there for whatever his granddaughters needed whether it was to help them with sports or just to talk, and it was easy to see that he would move heaven and earth for them. At times they ate or watched movies together. It has been said that Randy went a little nuts at Christmas as he more than showered his loved ones with gifts. They had to move furniture around to make room for all the gifts, and the gifts also extended into other rooms as well. Randy decorated for Christmas, and he has been likened to Chevy Chase when it came to the Christmas lights!
Always one to be busy, Randy was a man of many interests. As a Disney lover he loved watching all their movies, and when visiting Epcot Center he was sure to eat at every place. Randy was also a fan of Tom Hanks and Clint Eastwood movies. His dogs were also great companions including his current dog, Heidi, that was his best friend. A lifelong sports fan, Randy enjoyed the Detroit teams including the Lions, Tigers, and Red Wings, and he also played softball and did some bowling during his younger years. During football season Saturdays were for watching U of M football, and Sundays were all about the Lions. Randy loved Star Wars as well as Star Wars books. He enjoyed classic rock from the seventies and eighties with bands like Aerosmith, AC/DC, and Queen being among his favorites, and he didn't care for country at all. Randy has been called an eating machine as he ate everything in sight. He underwent a liver transplant 9 years ago, and since then he could eat and eat without ever gaining a pound. Randy’s days started with coffee in the morning, and then for the rest of the day he enjoyed Pepsi. He never wore pants, rather, it was shorts and flip flops for Randy.
All who knew Randy Kennedy would agree that he was such a special person. He was always positive and uplifting, even when he was dealing with his liver transplant. Generous and supportive, Randy was the rock of his family, and in his eyes they could do no wrong. Outgoing and genuine, he never met a stranger. Deeply loved, Randy will be forever missed.
Randy O. Kennedy, of Comstock, died on December 4, 2016, at Borgess Medical Center. Randy’s family includes his wife, Barb Kennedy; 5 children: Tom (Andrea) Nesbitt, Jr., Melissa Eagly, Jessica Kennedy, Josh (Jennifer) Kennedy and Marc Kennedy; 6 granddaughters: Alexis, Sara, Emily, Kaitlynn, Lindsey and Ezaleigh; 4 siblings: Marilyn Kennedy, Doug (Della) Kennedy, Don (Sally) Kennedy and Denny (Judy) Kennedy, and many nieces and nephews. Randy was preceded in death by his parents and by a sister, Judy Abraham. Visit with family and friends on Friday from 11 a.m. until service time at 1 p.m., at Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900. Cremation will follow. Please visit Randy’s personal memory page at 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 American Liver Foundation or Wounded Warriors.