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
Dedicated, honorable, and fun, John Zane Betts lived a life rich in love for family and the outdoors. A quiet and reflective man, John listened with his heart and chose his words with care; when he spoke, people listened. John approached each day with integrity, care, and appreciation. In so doing, he inspired all who were blessed to know him. A devoted husband, father, grandfather, and friend, John will long be held in the hearts of many.
Despite the obvious gloom of the growing conflict in Europe, 1939 held much to celebrate, including the end of the Great Depression, the premieres of the classic film Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz, regular television begin to broadcast nationwide, and The World’s Fair in New York. As the US actively armed up for war, families continued to center their lives in love and hope for a brighter future. Nowhere was that hope more evident than in Alma, Mi as Louis and Delores (Miller) Betts welcomed their son John into their hearts and home on July 3rd.
During his earliest years, John and his older brothers, Tom and Louis, enjoyed the comforts of their mother’s work as a stay at home mother. They also began to learn to value of hard work from their father who provided for the family as a truck driver. After their parents divorced and their father remarried, the boys welcomed three more siblings into their fold; sister, Tryell was first, followed by brother, Dennis, and then sister, Celia.
At a fairly young age, John moved to Alma where he lived with his grandmother and attended Alma schools. After raising John through his elementary and junior high years, Grandma Effie asked John to move to Plainwell and attend Michigan Veterans Vocational School near Pine Lake. John always called the school State Tech. During his years at State Tech, John worked on his formal education and spent a good amount of time exploring the 70 plus acres surrounding the school as well as the treasures Pine Lake held. By the time he finished his schooling the vocational and outdoors skills he acquired became the firm foundation upon which he built the rest of his life.
In 1962, John began his 42-year career working for Kalamazoo Container. In time, the company was bought out by Green Bay Packaging Inc. which ignited a passion for the Green Bay Packers. It didn’t take long for John to become an over the top, crazy Packers’ fan and his love for the team led to his claiming a room in his home as the Packer Den.
On June 20, 1970, John married Karen Try. Together the couple lovingly raised four children: Christopher, Rick, Brad, and Jason. A firm father, who instilled a strong work ethic in his boys, John taught his boys that, “when you get out of bed you go to work.” When they grew older, he would say, “Go to work and pay my social security.” John was a frugal man who also taught his sons the values of the dollar and being resourceful. While working second shift, John hand built his first home in Mattawan in between his 10-hour shifts. With devotion and care, he infused his spirit into the house with each and every touch.
Not only did John model determination and fortitude, he also passed on his love of the outdoors. Snow skiing, tending his yard, and fishing were all loves he enthusiastically shared with his sons. Without a doubt, fishing was his passion, and he even enjoyed winning some bass contests sponsored by DNR Sports. Though he was known to be very tight with his wallet and would say he was on a fixed income, he never hesitated to invest in a new rod and reel for fishing. John clearly understood the importance of balancing life’s hard work with pleasure.
John also possessed a strong call to service. With signature dedication, for a combined 22 years, John honorably gave his time and energy to both the Otsego and Mattawan Fire departments.
A man who easily enjoyed the simple things in life, John preferred the classic 50’s tunes of his youth, sitting in a well-crafted rocking chair, dancing, sinking his feet in the sand, and listening to Nature’s songs while casting a favorite lure. He loved traveling, especially to Mackinac where he lovingly placed flowers on his grandmother’s grave at Carp Lake Township Cemetary. While hitting the dance floor or cruising the ocean with his bride was a treat, he also relished in returning to the fun of his youth and roller skating with his grandchildren. The UPS drivers knew John for his beautiful yard that reflected his loving care and appreciation for nature. And while he couldn’t so much as boil water, his need to be on the move often resulted in a kind act of service for others. He teased that he was “the boss,” except when it came to his grandchildren who he enthusiastically did everything for. Indeed, they were his heart’s delight.
While it is difficult to imagine life in the absence of John’s steadfast presence, may it afford deep comfort to know that his legacy lives on in our hearts and lives. As we quietly listen and learn from one another, offer others our time and talents, and enjoy the splendors of the outdoors, we celebrate the many ways John showed us how to embrace each moment as a gift. In turn, we keep his spirit alive and inspiring others as he so inspired us.
John Zane Betts, of Portage passed away on Wednesday, May 16, 2018, at the age of 78. He is survived by his wife of 47 years, Karen; four children: Christopher (Tracy) Betts, of Grand Rapids; Rick Betts, of Battle Creek; Brad (Jennifer) Betts, of Ann Arbor; Jason (Angie) Betts, of Plainwell; 13 grandchildren and one great-granddaughter. He is also survived by two siblings: Tryell (Jim) Handy, of Ithaca and Dennis Betts, of Bath; Celia Anderson, of Bath and several nieces and nephews. John is preceded in death by his granddaughter, Taylor, and siblings Tom and Louis Betts.
A memorial service will be held on Tuesday, May 22nd at 4pm at the McCowen & Secord Family Funeral Home, Rupert-Durham Chapel, 409 S. Main, Vicksburg (269-649-1697). The family will receive friends one hour prior to the service beginning at 3pm.
Please visit John’s webpage www.mccowensecord.com where you can read his life story, sign the guestbook and share a memory. In lieu of flowers memorial contributions can be made through Generous Hands and/or KVD Foundation.