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Life Story / Obituary
With a journey that spanned times of great change in the world around him, John Slater lived a life filled with the people and experiences he loved. He worked hard, but he made the time to enjoy life along the way, often with his family and friends by his side. A devoted husband and father, John was thrilled to become a grandfather later in life, his love for his family so easy to see. A longtime resident of the community he loved, he was the sort of person who would do whatever he could for someone else. Although he will be deeply missed, John’s family finds comfort in knowing he is enjoying perfect peace in his eternal home.
The first half of the 1940s were defined by our nation’s involvement in WWII. There was dancing in the streets when the war came to an end late in the summer of 1945. With that, rationing was no longer in place, manufacturing was no longer needed to support the war effort, and countless young servicemen and women returned home to resume the lives they set aside for a time. It was as October dawned in 1947 that John and Caroline (Wallace) Slater, Sr. were focused on a transitional time in their own lives as they were eagerly anticipating the birth of their new baby. Their wait was over on October 16th when the baby boy they named John drew his first breath. He was their only child, and he was the apple of his parents’ eye. His father worked for a paper mill while his mother worked for a laundry company. John attended local schools including Parchment High School where he payed football. After graduating in 1967, John went to trade school for a time.
Always one to work hard, John went to work for the Brown Company for a couple years. Then from there, he went to AMS during which time he was attending trade school. John remained at AMS for 2 ½ years, and he then went back to Brown Company, which changed hands and the name was James River for a couple years. From there he worked for Eaton Corp in Kalamazoo for almost 12 years. Beginning in 1985 or so, John started working for Upjohn Co and remained there until 2006 when he became a victim of downsizing.
Not to be forgotten during his years as a young man was John’s introduction to the woman of his dreams. Her name was Pamela Zidell, and they met at Swartz Drive-In shortly after he had graduated from high school in 1967. They began dating, and it wasn't long before the couple found themselves deeply in love. With a desire to spend the rest of their lives together, John and Pamela were united in marriage on July 13, 1968, at St. Luke Episcopal Church. Together they welcomed two daughters, Shela and Shelley, into their hearts and home. John was generous and fun-loving, and this was also true in his role as a father. In fact, when his children were younger he usually gave them $20 to go out teepeeing the night before Halloween! Their dogs, Brody and Charlie, were like additional members of the family.
There were many things that kept John busy. He liked nice cars, and for a time he raced cars at Martin Speedway. With a home on West Lake, John liked boating and water. He loved his toys, especially his Harley Road King. John was a talented woodcraftsman, partially because he was such a perfectionist by nature. A music lover, he enjoyed country and the heart and soul of rock ’n roll. John’s favorite song was the Eagles song, “Take It To the Limit” and The Judd’s song, “Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good ‘Ol Days).” He lived life and believed in the Lord, which gave him such a peace about passing.
Later in life, John and his loved ones were give a tough pill to swallow when he battled various health issues. When he was just 50, he was diagnosed with cancer, and he then had a second bout with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2017. John also underwent triple bypass in 2007, and he passed away from mesothelioma.
The heartbeat of wherever he went, John Slater was so much fun to be around. Life wasn’t without times of trial for him, but he faced whatever came his way head on with both strength and courage. John treasured time spent with his family, and he was so thankful to be a husband, father, and grandfather. Deeply loved, he will be forever missed.
John Slater, passed away on Wednesday, March 14, 2018. John’s family includes his wife, Pamela; daughters: Shela (Brian) Cronk and Shelley (Rich) Phelps; three grandchildren: Amanda and Chase Cronk, and Ashley Phelps; brother-in-law, Mark Zidell. John was preceded in death by his grandchildren, John and Jacob Phelps and Chelsea Cronk. The funeral service will be held on Tuesday, March 20th, 2018, at 12 noon at the McCowen & Secord Life Story Funeral Home, 5975 Lovers Lane, Portage (269-344-5600). The family will receive friends at the funeral home one hour prior to the service, starting at 11 a.m. A private burial will be held at Portage South Cemetery. Please visit John’s webpage at www.mccowensecord.com where you can sign the guestbook, and share a memory. Those who wish may make contributions at Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan.