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.
Southern Care Hospice
1911 West Centre Ave Ste 1
Portage, MI 49024
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Semper Fidelis: A Latin phrase meaning “Always Faithful” or “Always Loyal”. A way of Life for Jack throughout his life.
With unending love and devotion for his family and friends, John “Jack” Peckels was an extraordinary man to know and love. He was fair, ethical, hardworking, and generous. He was not only physically strong, but he was morally and mentally strong as well. A man of unwavering faith, Jack had a heart for those in need.
It was great to be an American during the exciting decade of the Roaring Twenties. Jazz music and ballroom dancing were among the latest trends, and this was also the decade when motion pictures came to life with both color and sound. Amidst this exciting time was the year 1923 when Jack and Bridget (McManus) Peckels were pleased to announce the birth of the baby boy they named John R. on January 7th in Bemidji, Minnesota. He was the oldest of six Peckels children as he was raised alongside his siblings, Dick, Don, Betty, Marilyn, and Marian. Known as Jack like his father, he learned the value of hard work as a young boy as he was responsible for helping with his younger siblings. They all looked up to him, and through his relationship with his siblings he learned both a strong work ethic as well as the leadership qualities that would follow him for the rest of his life. Jack’s family moved to Kalamazoo where he attended St. Augustine High School where he excelled in his studies. He went on to graduate from high school in 1941.
Not to be forgotten during this time was his introduction to the woman of his dreams. Her name was Barbara “Bobbie” Asenbauer, and they met at Holly’s Grill in Kalamazoo. Sparks flew right from the start, and they quickly fell deeply in love. With a desire to spend the rest of their lives together the sweethearts were married on November 24, 1942, at St. Augustine Church, marking the beginning of a new chapter in a love story that would span 63 years. In February of 1943, Jack enlisted in the Marines and served as gun captain on the USS West Virginia and was honorably discharged on October 30, 1945 as a sergeant. In recognition of his service, he received six Bronze Stars for major battles in the Pacific. Jack was proud to be in Tokyo Bay during the signing of the Japanese Instrument of Surrender marking the end of WW II.
Throughout his life, Jack cherished his family. Together he and his wife welcomed four children including Barb, JoAnn, Karen, and John Jr. into their hearts and home. Jack worked hard to support his family. Jack started out working at Allied Paper but later accepted an opportunity with Upjohn. He spent the bulk of his career there, working there for 31 years before retiring as a supervisor in the pipe fitting department in 1980. Jack worked tirelessly, sometimes working two jobs to help make ends meet. He was well liked and respected by his coworkers because he was known for being honest and fair. Jack was extraordinarily strong physically, and his feats of strength at work were well known. In fact, they were told years after his retirement. Jack’s physique was so muscular that he was photographed and his pictures were presented on the TV show, Feminine Fancy.
Jack enjoyed playing poker with his friends, and their all night games were legendary. He always made sure that the games ended so he could go to church as he was a devout Catholic who faithfully attended Mass. Jack and Bobbie enjoyed going to Vegas to escape the Michigan winters. They made many new friends in Vegas, but they also enjoyed visiting with their son, John, who lived there. Both Jack and Bobbie enjoyed playing slots and video poker. They often stayed at the Union Plaza on Main Street. Because Bobbie liked to dance and bowl, Jack often accompanied her. Between the two of them, Bobbie was the social one, which means that at times he couldn’t get a word in edgewise. A happy-go-lucky guy, Jack was always singing little songs and corny little limericks. He loved reading to relax and especially liked reading Westerns. Jack remembered the Latin he learned as a high school student. During his younger years he liked shooting pool and throwing horseshoes. As his family and friends can attest, Jack had a sweet tooth. He also liked a good steak.
In 2005, Jack was deeply saddened with the death of his beloved Bobbie. He had tenderly cared for her round the clock for the two years prior to her death. Jack counted it all as a blessing and often said that his sole purpose in life was to take care of his wife. Although her death was very hard on Jack and he had a hard time moving forward, time and the support of his family and friends helped him find his way. He continued going to Vegas during the winter until his health no longer allowed. With the help of his daughter, Karen, he was able to stay in the comfort of his home.
Known for his honor and quick wit, it was his huge heart that Jack Peckels will be remembered for most. He was willing to help anyone in whatever way he could, expecting nothing in return. Someone who was ethical and fair, Jack was willing to accept everyone for who they were. He will never be forgotten.
John R. Peckels died peacefully on Wednesday, October 11, 2017. John’s family includes his daughters: Barb Peters of Lawton, JoAnn Sibley of Paw Paw, and Karen DeKam of Mattawan; son, John Jr. (Susie) Peckels of Las Vegas, NV; sisters: Betty and Marian both of Kalamazoo; 6 grandchildren including: David Peters of Lawton, Matt (Diana) Peters of Lawton, Steve (Gayla) Sibley of Scotts, Jason (Tracy) Sibley of Vicksburg, Rob (Michele) Overmyer of Irvine CA, and Teresa (Tim) Diffenderfer of Spring Lake; 14 great-grandchildren and 1 great-great-grandchild; and several nieces and nephews. John was preceded in death by his parents; brothers: Dick and Don; sister, Marilyn; and several brothers and sisters in law. Visit with family and friends on Monday from 5-8 p.m. at the Betzler Life Story funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive; Kalamazoo (375-2900), where services will take place at 11 a.m. on Tuesday. Lunch will follow in the Life Story Center. Burial with military honors will take place at 2 p.m. at Ft. Custer National Cemetery. Please visit John’s personal webpage at www.BetzlerFuneralHome.com, where you can archive a favorite memory or photo of him and sign his online guestbook before coming to the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made to Southern Care Hospice or a charity of your choice
Dad, until we meet again, we will think about you always, you will never be forgotten.