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.
Oakwood Neighborhood Community Center
3320 Laird Ave.
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Bill Henry lived a rich and adventurous life. Never one to remain idle, he held vast interests and generously gave of his time and resources to others in need. A devoted family man, there simply wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do for them. He was connected to both the animals and the people in the community around him. Known as a perfectionist and a frugal man who loved a good bargain, Bill leaves behind a legacy of being truly passionate about life and treating everyone he met with kindness. He will be deeply missed and lovingly remembered.
During an era that saw the large-scale boom of automobiles, telephones and motion pictures, as well as unprecedented industrial growth and significant changes in our nation’s culture, William Sr. and Henrietta (Van Haaften) Henry welcomed the arrival of their newborn son, William, on April 28, 1928 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Born the second of five children, his birth brought great joy into the family home.
A longtime resident of the Oakwood area, Bill lived a typical childhood and attended local schools. He loved to run the neighborhood and play in the nearby creek which provided rich and adventurous opportunities for him over the years. He and his dad spent many days trapping animals in the neighborhood sparking in him a lifetime connection with nature and wildlife. At the tender age of ten, a young dark-haired neighbor girl caught his eye and he figured out that if he took an alternative route to and from school each day, he’d run into her! So began the childhood love story of he and Pat Balch. He graduated with the Class of 1946 from Kalamazoo Central where he was known to be a troublemaker. With a knack for working with his hands and a whole lot of know-how, he was able to get work with a local trucking industry.
Eager to start a life of their own, he and Pat joined in marriage on January 24, 1948, at the First Methodist Church. They honeymooned at the Palmer House in Chicago and Bill still would grumble over the years that it had cost him eight dollars a night! Their son, Tom, was conceived on their wedding night, so some would argue it was money well spent! Later, his parents gifted he and Pat a plot of land where they had big plans to build their first home! Clearing the space at the end of Madison Street, Bill set to work on the construction while at the same time the bridge was going up in the area. Nearing its completion, Tommy was born! Roughly nine years later, they welcomed their adopted daughter, Janet into their lives making their family complete!
Working to provide for his growing family, Bill went on to work for WL Molding as well as for Sutherland Paper Company. Their home became a gathering place for many of their close friends and family over the years. They both treasured the times they could get together and serve good food, share laughter, and serve some of the best homemade ice cream in town! The neighborhood kids carried on the tradition of playing in the creek while the adults shared stories of days gone by. Guests often reveled in the serenity of their home. When the summer days rolled in they spent many delightful years at their cabin up north on Bear Lake which they had purchased in 1967. It, too, was a magical place for large gatherings of friends and family and everyone was always welcome. Bill loved to grill out and cook different types of meat and invite people to share in his food creations.
Bill enjoyed all types of special interests over the years. A nature lover, he enjoyed feeding many birds and squirrels right from the palm of his hand! He did, however, have a steady war against the pesky red squirrels and chipmunks! The family always had animals. Some were pets and others were wild ones that Bill had added to the mix! A believer in relaxation, Bill continued his passion for numismatics. He also loved to key up the Big Band music, burn incense, and fix himself a rum and coke around 3 in the afternoon! Not much of a sports fan, he often listened to more than watched the Detroit Tigers, a pastime from his childhood years that brought him great joy!
Accomplishing nearly forty years of truck driving, he retired from the James River Paper Company in 1988. Bill and Pat both enjoyed countless memorable moments over the course of their years together! During retirement, they both treasured traveling and had been all over Mexico, Hawaii, and Canada. They enjoyed a train trip out West, many cruises, and loved to winter in the beautiful state of Texas. For roughly twenty years, they’d head out for Weslaco which is close enough to the border to cross into Mexico for happy hour, playing cards, and Polka dancing! He and Pat enjoyed many years in the local St. Patty’s Day parade and was chosen to be the Grand Marshal in 2016! To pass the time away during those winters when the Tigers weren’t playing, he’d catch a game of golf on TV. No matter where he was, Bill’s heart was always back in Oakwood. He genuinely cared for the area and the people there. Although, he and Pat sold their original home and briefly moved to Parkview Hills, they savored their times in Oakwood and eventually moved back to the neighborhood. Described as an easy going, fun loving person, Bill’s wonderful collection of memories will be timelessly shared among all who knew and loved him for years to come.
William Howard Henry, Jr., of Kalamazoo, age 89, peacefully passed away on June 20, 2017. Bill is preceded in death by his parents; a sister; two brothers; his son, Tom Henry; and two infant children: Janice and Michael. He is survived by his wife, Pat; brother, Larry (Mary) Henry; daughter, Janet (Pete) Keinath; daughter-in-law, Karen Henry; former daughter-in-law, Dee Chriscoe; grandchildren: Michelle (Ron) Geer, Nicole (Mike) Galiger, and Alan Reitler; great-grandchildren: Brandon (Nicole) Nuyen, Courtney Nuyen, Jacob Galiger, Justin Galiger and Ethan Galiger; great-great-grandchildren: Kayden and Carter Cook; several nieces and nephews; and many others who called him Grandpa will greatly miss him. Family and friends can visit today, Thursday, June 22, 2017, from 5-8 PM at the Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive; Kalamazoo (375-2900), where services will be held on Friday at 11 AM. A luncheon will follow in the Life Story Center. Interment Riverside Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Oakwood Neighborhood Community Center. Please visit Bill’s personal web page at www.BetzlerFuneralHome.com, where you can archive a favorite memory or photo of him and sign his online guestbook.