Sunday, January 15, 2017
3:00 PM to 6:00 PM EST
Life Story Funeral Homes - Betzler
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Food and drinks will be served.
6:00 PM Prayer service.
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.
Hackett Catholic Prep
1000 West Kilgore Road
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
Hall of Fame
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
In many ways, Bob Janssen defined the meaning of devoted husband, dedicated father, loving grandfather, and great-grandfather. He was a loyal friend, and through his giving nature and selfless ways was an inspiration and gift to those who loved and cared for him. A friendly sort, Bob got along well with everyone who came his way and was a likable fellow in many respects. He was hard working, and by way of example he taught his children well. A true blessing in the lives of those he leaves behind, Bob will be dearly missed.
During a time when the nation continued to struggle through the lasting effects of the Great Depression, Americans forged on with lasting hope as they re-elected President Teddy Roosevelt to his second term. Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire danced their way into the hearts of many, and readers were fascinated with the newly published novel, Gone with the Wind. Yet in the Michigan community of Dowagiac, Francis and Dorothy (Walsh) Janssen had their attention focused on the blessed birth of their little boy, Robert, born on April 3, 1936.
The oldest child born to his parents, Robert’s family moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan when he was two years old where he was joined by his eight younger siblings, Larry, Pat, Maryann, Tim, Kate, Barb, Anne, and Mike. His father worked at one of the local factories while his mother remained at home looking after their large family. Growing up on the north side of Kalamazoo offered a young boy like Robert much adventure. He held fond memories of his childhood hanging out at LaCrone Park which was located right across the street from his house. A friend of many, he liked riding his bike around the neighborhood with friends, playing ball and he was into all kinds of sports during his youth.
In high school, Bob played football and ran track before graduating from St. Augustine High School in 1955. He then went on to serve in the military where he spent two years stationed in Germany. Following Bob’s honorable discharge from the service, he returned home to the states and through his sister, Maryann and brother, Tim, he was introduced to the love of his life, Marie LaPorte. Although Marie knew of Bob from St. Augustine High School, he was a few years older and they never had the opportunity to know one another in school. For their first date, Bob took Marie cruising the Kalamazoo mall in his ’57 Chevy. A match from the start, the two were happily married on October 22, 1960 at St. Augustine Catholic Church. Scheduled to run in a drag race the day after their wedding, Bob took two of Marie’s brothers to the race.
Bob was always into cars and car racing. He built cars, and was a great mechanic. He worked hard to support his family which came to include four wonderful children. Gary was born in 1960, and Terry followed in 1961. Lori came along in 1965, and Bobby completed their family in 1969. For 29 years, Bob worked as the head mechanic at UPS. He was a proud member of Teamsters Local #7 where, for a time, he served as union steward and the local Teamster representative. Even after hours, Bob could be found working on cars for pleasure and for a few extra dollars in his pocket.
Bob was sure to teach his children the basics of cars and how to care for them, like checking the oil regularly. Much of their family time revolved around the racing season, and they spent a lot of time at the track. Memorable times were also shared during the summers at their cottage on Pine Lake, and later in the 1970’s at their property at Hardy Dam. When Bob retired from UPS in 1995, it allowed him and Marie to spend the cold months of winter in Florida which they thoroughly enjoyed.
In his free time over the years, Bob liked having a cold one, usually a Pabst Blue Ribbon or later, a Bud with friends while working on cars. He was very meticulous about his lawn, all ten acres of it, and was out mowing even when it really didn’t even need it. He had a knack for telling great jokes, never missing a punch line. Bob liked a good laugh and bringing laughter to the days of others. A stranger to none, Bob was a friend of many and got along well with others. He could strike up a conversation with anyone, and he always had a big heart for the underdog.
Bob became quite close to his grandson and his great-grandson, Nolan was his little Buddy whom he adored. Because he worked so much when his own kids were small, Bob made it a point to spend extra time with his grandchildren and Nolan. However, Bob liked CNN news, and if the kids were over, it didn’t matter what they were watching, Bob would always turn on his favorite channel.
Over the last few years Bob’s health began declining. He was diabetic, and although being on dialysis slowed him down some, he still found the energy to mow his lawn and to sneak an occasional candy bar from one of his secret trips to Menards. Bob taught those around him many practical and useful things in life, but most importantly, he taught them that one is only as good as their word and to be respectful of others. Bob was a prime example of someone whose generosity and kindness knew no limits, and he was always willing to help someone in need. He was caring and loving in all ways, and for these things and so much more, he will be long remembered and deeply missed.
Robert Janssen, age 80, of Kalamazoo died on Monday, January 9, 2017 in Tampa, Florida. Members of his family include his wife, Marie; two children: Terry Janssen and Lori Janssen (Todd Porter); three grandchildren: Chad Janssen, Amanda Williams and Shane Porter; and great-grandson, Nolan Williams. Other members of his family include his brothers and sisters: Larry (Bev) Janssen, Pat (Sue) Janssen, Maryann Vernia, Tim (Dianne) Janssen, Kate (Fred) Mast, Barb Vernia, Anne Hopkins, and Mike (Mary) Janssen; several in-laws and his four legged partner in crime, Stella. Bob was preceded in death by two sons: Gary and Bobby.
Visit with his family and friends on Sunday from 3-6 pm at the Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive; Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900. The Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10:00 am Monday at St. Augustine Cathedral, 542 W Michigan Ave. Burial will be in Mt. Olivet Cemetery. Please visit Bob’s personal web page at www.BetzlerFuneralHome.com where you can archive a favorite memory or photo and sign his online guestbook before coming to the funeral home. Memorial donations may be made to Hackett Hall of Fame or to United Way.