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.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
With a life that spanned times of war and times of peace, times of plenty and times of want, George St. Clair lived life with purpose while holding his loved ones near. He could be stubborn and opinionated at times with a meticulous nature, so meticulous that he made blueprints for everything he constructed. George was a devoted family man who spent the majority of his life watching his family tree blossom to include numerous branches of loved ones who made him so very proud. With his strong work ethic, he was precise in everything he did, and he loved using his gifts and talents to help others. Life will never be the same without him here, but he will never be forgotten.
The 1920s were an exciting time in America. Innovation was fueling new technology that changed the way we lived our daily lives as we welcomed conveniences like refrigerators and radios into our homes. Amidst this exciting time was the year 1924 that was filled with great anticipation for Merle and Elva (Calland) St. Clair as they were eagerly awaiting the birth of their new baby as December dawned in New Castle, Indiana. The big day finally arrived on December 13th, when the baby boy they named George Edward drew his first breath. He was the middle of three children and grew up all over the U.S., primarily within the South Bend, Indiana, area.
In many ways George was a young boy of the “Greatest Generation”. His father worked in tool and die designing, while his mother was a busy homemaker. George developed his love for sports at an early age, and his focus in school was on sports rather than academics. He was a running back on the school’s football team and earned his varsity letter. George also played both basketball and baseball, and over the years he attended about 13 different schools. His high school years were more consistent as George spent all four of his high school years at Riley High School in South Bend, from which he later graduated. His father bribed him to take his future wife to a dance with a shot gun, and it worked. Her name was Kay, and although they had known one another for years, they officially reconnected in high school.
As a young man, George was eager for all that life had in store. He enlisted in the Navy in 1943, training at Great Lakes Naval Center and the engineering school at Norfolk. He served on the USS Raymond Destroyer Escort as a water tender and oil king. He was part of history when his ship was engaged in the Battle of Leyte Gulf and the Battle of Samoa Straits. His ship alone remained unscathed in the last Japanese naval offensive of the war. George was discharged in 1946.
Not to be forgotten during George’s time in the military was his deepening love for his sweetheart, Kay. They had gotten engaged before he left for the Navy, and on January 12, 1946, they were married at the Methodist church in South Bend when George was home on leave. For a honeymoon, they spent a couple of nights at a hotel in Chicago where his aunt worked. The newlyweds then took a sleeper train to Long Beach, California, and they lived their together until they moved back to South Bend after George was discharged. George and Kay settled in Elwood, Indiana, where he worked as a plant manager at Triangle Tool. George and Kay enjoyed dancing at the Elks and were a very social couple. Together they had four children - Tom, Cindy, Bill, and Bob.
Known for his strong work ethic, George spent much of his career working with his brother, Charles. His brother initially came to work for him, but they soon decided to go into business together. George and his brother decided to set up shop in Kalamazoo, Michigan, opening St. Clair Design Service in 1962. The two enjoyed working together, and over the years they did design work for Checker Cab, Shakespeare, Johnson Motors, and Kalamazoo Stamping, to name few. George continued to operate the company until retiring after 30 years. The two brothers were close outside of work, too, with golf being one of their favorite activities.
George and Kay shared 62 years of marriage. George and Kay regularly went to the Civic and K-Wings hockey games. George also took customers to Notre Dame football games and to the Indy 500. He and his wife traveled to every state except Alaska. George and Kay especially enjoyed signing up for tours, taking plenty of pictures along the way. They spent three months in Winter Haven, Florida, for several years. There, George enjoyed golfing, going to Cypress Gardens, and seeing movies. They often spent time with George’s sister, Jeannette, since she lived there, too. In 2008, he was deeply saddened with the death of his wife, Kay.
As one who enjoyed keeping busy, George was a man of many interests. He loved fishing, bowling, and golfing. George was a long-time member of the Elks Country Club. He loved hearty meals like meat and potatoes, and pie was another favorite. George had a creative side, too, as he played the mandolin during his younger years. Later on, he enjoyed painting, primarily sailing ships. George was into woodworking and loved using all his tools to make various items. Even during his final years at Friendship Village, he kept busy. George also enjoyed spending time with his companion, Jean Koopsen, who was his best friend and someone he came to love “quite a bit.”
In everything he did, George St. Clair gave it his all. He was a completely self-taught draftsman. George was handy, hardworking, and an excellent provider for the family he shared with his beloved wife. Patriotic, he was so proud to serve his country during a time of great need. Although he will be deeply missed, George leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that his loved ones will forever cherish.
George Edward St. Clair, of Kalamazoo, died April 15, 2017, at Friendship Village. George’s family includes his 4 children: Tom St. Clair, Cindy (Cole) Rowekamp, Bill (Mary) St. Clair and Bob (Sandra) St. Clair; 6 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren; and his dear friend, Jean Koopsen. George was preceded in death by his wife, Kay St. Clair, in 2008, and by his brother, Charles St. Clair. Services will be held Tuesday, 11 a.m. at the Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Dr. Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900 followed by a luncheon in the Life Story Center. Burial will take place later that afternoon at Ft. Custer National Cemetery. Please visit George’s personal web page at www.betzlerfuneralhome.com where you can read his story, archive a favorite memory or photo and sign his online guestbook before coming to the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be the Friends Fund at Friendship Village.