Kenneth David Betz, of Grand Rapids Michigan passed away at his home on April 16, 2023. Ken was born ‘the happiest, luckiest guy’ in 1942 in Grand Rapids to Karl and Marie (Geiger) Betz. He was always trying to keep up with his older brother Karl, and enjoyed being active from a young age. Ken never met a sport that he didn’t like. He was a 3-sport athlete at Union High School, and was awarded the Varsity Cup after being named the top athlete of the class of 1960. He golfed, played softball, enjoyed skiing well into his 70s, and ran a Half Marathon at the age of 71.
Following in Karl’s footsteps Ken attended the University of Michigan to study Metallurgical Engineering. His love of the University and especially Michigan Football was a lifelong passion he shared with his family. After college, Ken returned to Grand Rapids to join his brother and father working at Betz Industries. He found his career on the foundry floor rewarding as he provided support and mentorship, and an extra hand to anyone who needed it. His natural ability to teach others in a calm and respectful way was a quality he applied to many aspects of his life. In 1967, while attending a Halloween party he met the first love of his life, his wife Judy, over a shared 6 pack of Pabst. A year later, they were married and spent 48 years together. They had three children, Heidi, David and Anne, but with his kindness and mentorship, he was a father figure to many others - two exchange students, and many other friends who were folded into the family.
Eventually after Judy’s death, he was set up by friends with his second love of his life, Pat. They were married in 2019, and although their original plans to enjoy travel and new adventures was derailed by the pandemic, they were able to enjoy the quiet company of each other. Through marriage, Ken also became a bonus father to Pat’s children Ashley and Jordan, and saw his brood of grandchildren, the joy of his life, grow to 8. Ken genuinely loved people, loved to hear their stories and cared deeply about anyone whom he had just met. His interest was sincere, and no matter where he was, Ken could strike up a conversation and immediately make a new friend. He also loved adventures- traveling around Europe, taking a Jeep trip in Africa, sailing around New Zealand, spending time in Colorado, or enjoying a Lake Michigan sunset. Ken’s other passion in life was his workshop. He loved woodworking, working in the yard, volunteering for Habitat for Humanity— anything to put his skills to the use of others. His giving spirit led to helping others, no matter where they were in their lives or what kind of help they needed. Those who knew him recognized his giving spirit, and his understanding that the world can be a good place if we work hard, but more importantly, are simply kind to each other.
Visitation will be at Metcalf and Jonkhoff Funeral Services, 4291 Cascade Rd SE, Grand Rapids, MI on Thursday April 20th from 2:00 until 4:00 p.m. and from 6:00 until 8:00 p.m. His life will be celebrated with loving joy at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, April 21 at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 47 Jefferson Avenue SE, Grand Rapids, MI. As an expression of sympathy, Ken has requested donations be directed to the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, Hospice of Michigan, or any charity of choice.
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