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Life Story / Obituary
All who knew Dean Mann would agree that he was one of the most caring people around. He was known for his strong work ethic throughout his life, working well into his retirement years. Dean was a loving and devoted family man, and there was nothing he treasured more than witnessing his family tree blossom to include the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren he adored. Although he accomplished great things, his family was his greatest source of pride and joy. Life will never be the same without Dean here, but he leaves behind a timeless legacy that his loved ones will proudly carry on in his footsteps.
The 1930s brought us some of the darkest days we have faced as a nation as the Great Depression defined our daily lives. Jobs were scarce, the unemployment rate soared, and countless American families were left struggling to meet their basic needs. Despite the trials around them, Wilbur and Nila (Prough) Mann were able to focus on an exciting time in their own lives as they announced the birth of the baby boy they named Dean on May 21, 1934, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He was the third of seven children as he was joined in his family by his siblings, Joyce, Linda, Donald, Joanne, Patti, and Wendall.
Raised in the family home in Comstock, Dean was quite mischievous. Among his antics were the times he would tape a mirror on his shoe and then stand next to a pretty girl to sneak a peek. He was also known to stick girls’ ponytails in ink. Dean’s father worked at Sutherlands Papermill while his mother had more than enough to keep her busy with their home and family. To this day, Dean’s youngest brother still lives in the home they were raised in. Dean attended local schools, but he left during the 8th grade so that he could work to help support the family.
Dean’s incredible work ethic followed him for the rest of his life, and he was someone who didn’t shy away from getting his hands dirty. He always had two jobs while growing up, and he started working at Allied Paper when he was just 16 years old. In fact, Dean even lied about his age so he could work there. He continued working there as a pulp mixer and a foreman later until they closed. From there, Dean worked for Michigan Paperboard Company in Battle Creek until retiring in 1998. It’s not surprising that he continued working even after he retired. Dean spent about five years operating the tractor for hay rides at VerHage Fruit Farm. He loved this job since it allowed him to flirt!
Not to be forgotten during his younger years was Dean’s introduction to the woman of his dreams in September of 1954. Her name was Yvonne Bowlby, and they met while working together at Kalamazoo Stationary. They went on their first date, but Dean conveniently forgot his wallet! Luckily, Yvonne was smitten as she found fulfillment in being able to shape him into an extraordinary man. After a whirlwind romance, the couple was united in marriage on June 10, 1955, at a church in Kalamazoo, marking a new chapter in a love story that would span 63 years. Together they welcomed four children including Terri, Jerry, Deb, and Todd into their hearts and home.
There was nothing Dean enjoyed more than being surrounded by his loved ones. He was an active part of his children's lives and was always there to encourage and support them as well. Dean was at all of their events and activities, and he even umpired at their baseball and softball games. When they had two children in two separate events at the same time, he and his wife would divide and conquer so that no one had to be without a parent at their event. For years they took memorable family vacations spent camping in Cadillac or Mackinaw, staying in the same cabin every year. Dean truly enjoyed time away from work and being able to relax while savoring the moments with his family. He also enjoyed family gatherings for holidays like Christmas Eve, summer get togethers, and parities at the Comstock fire station. When relaxing at home, Dean was often found sitting in the chair napping with his mouth wide open. He snored so loudly that his kids needed to turn the TV up loud just so they could hear! Dean wasn't afraid to discipline his kids, but he always did it in a loving way. His kids pretty much just knew that they couldn’t get away with anything such as the time Jerry and Deb were playing in a mud puddle even though they were told not to. When they came in, Dean was patiently waiting. Through his example, he taught his children the value of hard work and how to be resourceful in fixing things around the house. Dean did have his limits, however, since Jerry roofed the entire garage himself since Dean was afraid of heights!
As Dean got older, he was thrilled to see his family grow. He loved being with his grandchildren, and even just being together while he played cards were some of the moments he and his grandchildren treasured most. Dean was very handy, even building their house on his own He also liked making outdoor decorations for holidays like Halloween. He liked watching ballgames, enjoyed country music, and was great at woodworking and putting together jigsaw puzzles. An avid sports fan, Dean followed both the Tigers and the Lions, and he could often be found yelling at the TV when he didn’t agree with the calls that were made.
With a life that spanned times of great change in the world around him, Dean Mann was a blessing in the lives of all who were near. He worked hard, but he played hard, too, with his happiest moments being spent with his loved ones. Dean viewed the day he got married as the best day of his life, and he had a fun sense of humor and a contagious laugh. Deeply loved, he will be forever missed.
Dean Mann died peacefully on June 20, 2018, at Rose Arbor Hospice. Dean’s family includes his wife of 63 years, Yvonne; 4 children: Terri Hageman, Jerry Mann, Deb (Scott) Klaiber, and Todd Mann; 8 grandchildren: Jamee, Donovan (Ashley), Devin (Whitney), Joshua, Jess, Marjorie, Brianna, and Chloe; 4 great grandchildren: Alex, Kyle, Brelynn, and 1 expected; 2 sisters: Joanne Tiffany and Patti (Ted) Skartsiaris; and 1 brother: Wendall “Butch” Mann. Dean was preceded in death by his parents; 2 sisters: Joyce Nolan, Linda Stratton; and 1 brother: Donald Mann. Cremation has taken place. Services will be held on Monday at 11 a.m. at Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Dr. Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900. Please visit Dean’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 contributions may be made to American Cancer Society.