Rick Pettit

January 14, 1954 - March 30, 2015
Kalamazoo, MI



Friday, April 3, 2015
5:00 PM to 8:00 PM EDT
Life Story Funeral Homes - Betzler
Kalamazoo Location
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
(269) 375-2900

Food and beverages will be served.

Driving Directions


Saturday, April 4, 2015
1:00 PM EDT
Kalamazoo South Side Church of the Nazarene
746 Denway Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
(269) 343-2262

A luncheon will follow the burial in the church hall.



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.

Elaine Pettit Ministries, Inc.
2110 Banbury Rd.
Kalamazoo, MI 49001


Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.

1830 S. Westnedge
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
(269) 349-4961
Driving Directions
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


Known as a gentle giant, Rick Pettit had a passion for Jesus and was a man of much prayer. He was a testimony to his faith, and lived as a witness to God's love. Rick was a devoted husband, and as a father he counted his greatest achievement in the fact that each of his children loved Jesus. A man after God's own heart, Rick gladly gave the shirt off his back, and helped anyone he could. He leaves much to be remembered, and will be dearly missed.

The 1950s marked a quieter, more stable time in America. The baby boom found families moving into newly developed suburbs, and women were moving back into the workforce as the economy continued to grow. The words, "under God" were added to the United States Pledge of Allegiance at a time when family values and faith-filled homes were a part of America's core. It was during this time of growth on January 14, 1954 in the Michigan city of Kalamazoo when the birth of Rick Pettit brought much joy to his family.

Born and raised in Kalamazoo, Rick was the third of six children in the Pettit household. Rick's father worked at the Brown Paper Mill Company, and his mother worked for Borgess Hospital. He enjoyed a typical childhood for the times, and in school ran track and played football. Always big for his age, Rick was the tallest of his friends, and towered over all of them. He went on to attend Parchment High School, later earning his GED. He also attended Kalamazoo Valley Community College.

Life forever changed for Rick when he met Elaine Butler, the young woman who captured his heart. The night Rick met his beloved, the Lord spoke to her heart, letting her know he would take care of her. Following a brief courtship and deeply in love, Rick and Elaine were blessed in marriage on September 24, 1977 at First Congregational Church in Kalamazoo.

In time, Rick and Elaine added the blessing of five wonderful children into their lives in a six and a half year span. He helped with each of their births, and never left Elaine's side. Christopher, Benjamin, Jeremy, Rachel, and Elizabeth were an extension of their love, faith, and commitment to one another. They raised their family with a deep faith, and since 1981 they have been members of the Church of the Nazarene. Always a big kid at heart, and quite literally himself at 6' 8-1/2" tall, each one of his children grew to be quite tall, as well. Rick took an active role in the lives of his children and cared for them with an abiding, unconditional love.

Rick worked as a machinist at Beloit for 24 years and was the best roll finisher they ever had. His wife began the ministry in 1987, and then Rick joined her full time in 2000, leaving his job behind. Rick traveled with Elaine who evangelized and preached. In fact, she was the first tenured woman evangelist (and Ordained Elder) in the Church of the Nazarene. Rick helped manage the EPM Ministry Book table and presented Elaine’s books, DVDs, and CDs to each Congregation; they were together 24 hours a day. They did revivals and camp meetings in nearly every state and in Canada. As always, Rick was by her side to assist with her media and anything she needed.

No less a loving, doting husband, Rick was a fine example for his children to live by. He supported Elaine in all she did, and honored her in all ways. They shared a beautiful relationship, and were perfect for one another. He made her coffee, and ironed her dresses every morning! They were a perfect team whether evangelizing, raising their family, or loving others. When they made a trip to Colonial Williamsburg and Virginia Beach three years into their marriage, they began calling each other "George and Martha", and continued to do so. Everyone thought it was so cute!

Rick was a hands-on type of man, especially as a dad and papa. Babies loved him, and everyone felt a sense of security with him. He loved his grandkids and adoptive grandkids, and came to be known as "Papa" to many. The big kid in him loved parades and marching bands, but just being with his kids and grandkids gave Rick joy. Rick genuinely loved children and was involved in the lives of many children throughout the years. In 1990, he was the bus driver for The Good News Train Ministry. A church on wheels, he had a puppet ministry, and Elaine preached. They did five to seven services each Saturday for almost five years ministering to the inner city of Kalamazoo and feeding the poor.

When it came to eating, Rick could really clean his plate. And after Elaine was finished after two bites, he'd move on to finish her plate, too! Some of his favorites included: strawberry-rhubarb pie, beef stroganoff, taco squares, and he made a great goulash and spaghetti sauce. Rick was an avid reader, especially in the mornings when he read his Bible and prayed. His favorite author was Rev. Samuel Logan Brengle from The Salvation Army. He had a nice country singing voice, but preferred just listening to Praise and Worship songs, Southern gospel and bluegrass songs. Rick found much solitude and peace when walking the beaches, and loved the open water.

Rick's favorite TV program was the weather channel, and he felt he missed his calling as a storm chaser! He was amazed by the weather, and thought the coolest thing was how one could predict the weather. In his free time he liked working on cars. As a kid he liked tearing them apart. He enjoyed looking at hot rods at various car shows, and always wanted a canary yellow Camaro. Rick taught his kids to drive on the back roads, loved visiting famous graveyards, and anything to do with the Civil War. He was a loyal Chicago Bulls fan and he enjoyed watching March Madness. Even though he flew for a time over 150 times a year, he disliked flying, but he did love attending air shows. He really enjoyed trains and visiting train museums. He was talented at drawing, writing and even published an article about being the spouse of a female preacher.

Never one to seek the limelight, Rick gave freely with a servant's heart. Ever loyal, protective, gentle, and wise, he was foremost humble, and a good listener. Deeply missed, Rick's love and faith lives on in the hearts of those he leaves behind.

At the age of 61, Rick Pettit, of Kalamazoo, died unexpectedly on Monday, March 30, 2015. He is survived by his wife of 37 years, Rev. Elaine Pettit; his five children: Rev. Christopher (Rev. Sara) Pettit, Rev. Benjamin (Rev. Amanda) Pettit, Jeremy, Rachel, and Elizabeth Pettit; five grandchildren: Madison Taylor, Timothy Wesley, Laina Joy, Janea Trudy, and Glenna Pettit; siblings: Steven (Deborah) Pettit, John (Judy) Pettit, Mark Pettit, Linda Pettit, and Brian (Elaine) Pettit; brother and sister-in-law, James (Barb) Harmala; and nephews: Jason and Michael Harmala. He was preceded in death by his beloved parents and by his father and mother in-law, Dr. and Mrs. William J. Butler, who he was very close to and loved dearly.

Friends may visit with Rick's family on Friday, April 3, 2015 from 5-8 PM at Life Story Funeral Homes-Betzler Kalamazoo, 6080 Stadium Drive. A service to celebrate his life will be held Saturday, April 4, 2015, 1:00 PM at Kalamazoo South Side Church of the Nazarene, 746 Denway Drive, Kalamazoo 49008. Memorials may be directed to Elaine Pettit Ministries, Inc. To share a favorite memory and/or photo of Rick and to sign his online guestbook, please visit www.lifestorynet.com.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Matthew 6:33 (NIV)