Life Story Visitation
Thursday, March 23, 2023
5:00 PM to 7:00 PM EDT
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Where food, drinks, and stories will be shared.
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.
Centrica Care Navigators
7100 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
For Benefit Of Rose Arbor Hospice
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
1830 S. Westnedge
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
Taylor's Florist and Gifts
215 E. Michigan Ave.
Paw Paw, MI 49079
Life Story / Obituary
With a warm smile and enduring love, Alfred “Al” Carlisle lived a life rich in family and friends. Deeply committed to those he loved, Al devoted his life to the good care of others. Al’s exemplary work ethic was only exceeded by his generosity which afforded many the support and comfort they so needed. Al loved nothing more than time spent with family. Whether working the farm, sharing a meal, attending a race, or taking a boat ride, every moment was a treasure he held close to his heart. A devoted husband, father, grandfather, and friend, Al will long be remembered and so very missed.
Despite the obvious gloom of the Great Depression, the 1930s beheld a power of hope that undulated in the hearts of many. With a natural drive to not just endure but thrive in the face of uncertainty, the nation continued to put one foot in front of the other to build a better future. Nowhere was there a greater sense of hope than in Kalamazoo, Michigan, as Carroll and Doris Carlisle welcomed their son Alfred to their family on January 27, 1932.
Growing up in the Mattawan area, where he worked on his family’s farms, Al learned to drive trucks well before the legal age. He delivered grapes from the farm to Welch Foods, and the first truck he drove, a 1923 Ford Model T, is still in the family.
While a student at Mattawan High School, Al had the good fortune of meeting Joyce Guiter, the love of his life. Having both grown up on farms, Al and Joyce shared the same core values and hopes for the future. They began dating and were soon setting their hearts on sharing the rest of their lives. True soul mates, they were engaged in 1951 and happily exchanged their marriage vows on April 28, 1953, at her Uncle Kenny’s property on Q Avenue.
Al and Joyce were blessed to become parents two years later when their son Kenneth was born. When their daughter Catherine arrived, the family was complete. Modeling a beautiful marriage, Al and Joyce were true partners. They loved, respected, supported, and cared for one another in every possible way. While Joyce devoted herself to caring for their children and creating a loving home, Al worked hard to provide his family with everything they needed.
In 1956, after proudly serving his country in the Navy aboard the USS Des Moines as a gunner during the Korean War, Al started his career with the Kalamazoo Fire Department. When he wasn’t working at the fire department, he tended to his farm, growing pumpkins, asparagus, and grapes. Teaching his kids the value of hard work, he involved the family in working the fields and harvesting their crops, often picking the kids up at school to pick the pumpkin patch. Dedicated to both family and career, Al proudly retired from the Fire Department on August 14, 1982, as a Captain. He then worked for Hoeksema Brothers Greenhouses after retirement, driving their flower truck to Chicago.
Many great family times with his kids and grandkids were spent attending NASCAR races and boating on Lake Michigan. Hunting with his son, Kenneth, also forged a strong bond between the pair. Gathering for family meals was a long-held tradition, with Saturday night steaks, mushrooms, and baked potatoes on the grill and Christmas morning made-to-order “fold-over-eggs.”
When his granddaughter Michelle was born, she instantly became Al’s heart’s delight. After the Saturday steak night, Michelle often decided to spend the night with grandma and grandpa. Al was a generous man, and when his granddaughter started driving, he bought her first car but insisted she pay him back over time. Years later, when his great-grandson Dakota started driving, Al bought his first car. However, they shared a bond like no other and Al did not ask Dakota to pay him back. Time spent together and the many smiles were more than enough. Al bought him a go-kart when he was younger. Dakota rode it through the fields while Al followed behind in his tractor. Al would hastily say a few choice words when the go-kart stalled or got stuck, but they always got it going again. A season ticket holder at Michigan International Speedway for many years, Al enjoyed taking his family, especially Dakota, to the races. There, they often met up with other friends or family who also had season tickets. Al also relished his yearly travels with Dakota to his Navy reunion in Pennsylvania every August.
In retirement, Al and Joyce relished in time exploring the country. With Al’s talent for reading maps, he was an expert at giving directions and successfully getting them to their destinations. Many of the roads he knew so well from his truck driving days, he never needed a map to get places. Winter months were spent in the warmer states of Arizona and Alabama, connecting with Navy friends and enjoying the outdoors.
No matter the distance in time or geography, the family was always at the center of Al’s heart. Tragically, Al and Joyce outlived both of their children. Turning to one another, their family, and special friends for deep comfort, they endured the devastation while being forever changed. The greatest gift Al and Joyce gave their family was the example of their love and commitment to one another. This was never more evident than during Joyce’s struggle with dementia. Steadfast in his promises to always support and ensure her good care, Al was always at her side. Day after day and night after night, despite the heartache of her memory loss and limited social skills, Al’s love remained true. When it came time for more support, the couple moved to the nursing facility, where they shared a room and were often found holding hands. Just over a year ago, Joyce passed away, and while comforted in knowing she was free from dementia, Al missed his beloved dearly.
There is no doubt that life feels significantly less clear in the absence of Al’s steadfast companionship. May we find much comfort in our many treasured memories, his reunion with Joyce, and the gift of his great-great-granddaughter, Willow, who was born just a few hours after Al’s death. May we also find comfort in carrying his legacy forward. In each moment we gather for steak and potatoes, a boat ride, cheer on our favorite race car driver, listen to Sammy Kershaw, or see the familiar twinkle in his grandchildren’s eyes, we celebrate all the ways Al gifted our lives. In this way, we keep his spirit alive and inspiring others as he so inspired us.
Alfred Carlisle, of Mattawan, age 91, died on March 14, 2023. Al was born January 27, 1932, in Kalamazoo to Carroll and Doris Carlisle, who precede him in death. Al was also preceded in death by his wife, Joyce; children: Kenneth and Catherine Carlisle; brother, Raymond (Mona) Carlisle; and brother-in-law, Ivan Guiter. Surviving are his granddaughter, Michelle (Scott) Garland; great-grandson, Dakota (Taylor) Carlisle; great-great-granddaughter, Willow; daughter-in-law, Anna Carlisle; special niece, Connie (David) Gile; and additional nieces and nephews.
Please join us at a Life Story Visitation where food, drinks, and stories will be shared on Thursday, March 23, from 5-7 PM at Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo, 269-375-2900. Visit Al’s webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories, photos, and sign his guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to Centrica Care Navigator FBO Rose Arbor Hospice.