Life Story Service
Saturday, May 4, 2024
10:00 AM EDT
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
A reception will follow in the Life Story Center where food, drinks, and stories will be shared.
Blaine's fellow musicians are invited to bring their acoustic instruments and play a few songs during the reception.
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.
Great Lakes Acoustic Music Association
PO Box 50781
Kalamazoo, MI 49005
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
With a song in his heart and an unwavering commitment to excellence, Blaine Ray McLeod lived a life rich in family and friends. Blaine was a talented musician, influential leader, and devoted family man. He was a perfectionist by nature who strove for continuous improvement in his career, music, and everyday life. Leading by example at every turn, Blaine embraced each day as a gift and always gave his best. A beloved husband, father, grandfather, and friend, Blaine will long be remembered by those he so dearly loved.
1955 proved to be a year of vibrant growth. With the sale of nearly 7.9 million cars, for the first time in history, seven out of ten families in the U.S. owned an automobile, and new laws were created to require seat belts on all new cars. This was the year Ray Kroc built the first McDonald's, and T.V. dinners appeared, including the first fish fingers. Cans of Coca-Cola, Lego, Velcro, and The Mickey Mouse Club all made their debuts during this prosperous year, while Rock and Roll music continued to grow in popularity with more idols, including Elvis Presley, Bill Haley, and the Comets, Chuck Berry, and The Platters. Locally, this time of hope and plenty grew exceptionally bright as Kenneth and Beryl McLeod welcomed their son Blaine to their family on October 23.
Blaine, the youngest of the three McLeod kids, grew up in Plainwell, Michigan, in the good company of his older siblings, John and Janelle. He came from humble beginnings. His parents met when his father was stationed with the U.S. Army, and his mother served in the Land Army in England during WWII. After his parents married in Birmingham, England, his mother immigrated to the United States. Despite not having two nickels to rub together, Blaine's parents worked hard to provide for their family. Blaine's father worked for K.V.P. Paper Company for 28 years and then as a salesman at Sears for 18 years. When Blaine was older, his mom went to work at the IGA grocery store.
Some of Blaine's fondest memories were of the orchard on their property, where he loved eating fresh cherries and peaches. His mom would offer to bake the pies if he picked the fruit, a deal Blaine was always eager to agree to. From a young age, Blaine was clever and resourceful. The family could not afford a new bike, so Blaine found old ones, brought them home, fixed them, and painted them. Then, he would ride his custom bike until he found another old bike to fix up. It wasn’t unusual for him to take off on a ride in the morning and be gone until sunset.
After graduating in 1973 from Plainwell High School, Blaine attended Kalamazoo Valley Community College and worked at Checker Motor Corporation. He furthered his education at Grand Valley State University and Lake Superior State University, specializing in Marketing Investment Real Estate and Assessment Administration. Blaine was a licensed state appraiser for many years. In 1981, he began as an appraiser for the Kalamazoo Equalization Department before working as an assessor for Park Township in Ottawa County, Michigan. In June 1999, Blaine started working for Allegan County Equalization as the Deputy Director. Upon receiving his Michigan Master Assessing Officer (4) and Michigan Certified Personal Property Examiner licenses in 2001, Blaine was appointed the Director in Allegan County, a position he proudly held until retirement in 2016.
For almost 25 years, Blaine was married to Kathie McLeod. The couple raised three sons, Nathan, Cameron, and Travis, in Holland, Michigan. Like all great parents, Blaine and Kathie were committed to supporting their boys' interests, and much of their time was centered on the boys' sports and music. They did all they could to provide them with opportunities, gladly carting them around the state to soccer games, track meets, and choir festivals. Skiing was a family pastime. As the ski club director for the middle school, Kathie earned family season passes to Bittersweet. Blaine was a great skier, and their mutual passion for the sport proved to be a lifelong gift for their sons. As much as they loved skiing, they mostly wanted to give their sons the experiences on the slopes, night skiing at Bittersweet, and driving out west to ski over Spring Breaks. Whether they ended up pursuing the sport was entirely up to them.
Blaine was a compassionate man who loved his children and wanted the best for them. Blaine was funny and supportive but could be somewhat stern. He held his boys to high standards, especially regarding commitments. If they wanted to do something, Blaine expected them to see it through. When their ambitions focused on improving themselves, he expected a plan and challenged them to practice. He led by example, always more concerned about the process than the results, demonstrating what hard work could achieve.
Summer evenings on Lake Michigan gave the family some of their favorite times with Blaine. Time shared with him in the water, playing in the waves, was a pure experience of joy, a father and son moment not concerned with life lessons or disciplined thinking. As he grew older and softened with age, Blaine's high expectations were replaced with pride for the lives his children and grandchildren were building for themselves.
In 1999, Blaine met Jayne and became true friends. It was in 2003 when they realized their friendship had caught fire, and their relationship became more than just good friends. They married on August 24, 2006, in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, with their hearts set on sharing the future. Jayne fell for Blaine's intelligence, quick wit, and charm and grew to appreciate his kind, loving ways. Blaine accepted Jayne for who she was and felt comfortable sharing his emotions with her. They loved sitting on the deck, talking over a glass of wine, and enjoying one another’s company.
Music was Blaine's passion and a social outlet. He started in high school, playing drums in rock bands and continued into adulthood. Shortly after moving to Holland, Michigan, in 1985, Blaine began playing the snare drum in several pipe bands, including the Grand Rapids Pipe Band, Windsor Police Pipe Band, and Muskegon Regional Police Pipes and Drums Band. He marched in parades and performed at Scottish Festivals. A highlight in 2017 was performing with the Muskegon Regional Police Pipes and Drums in Washington, D.C., for National Police Week. When his grandson, Quin, became interested in drumming, Blaine offered encouragement and guidance. In time, Blaine gratefully passed on his drum kit to Quin.
Blaine also learned how to play the banjo in the late 1990s, playing in Ryan's Dog House band and attending many jam sessions through the Great Lakes Acoustic Music Association (GLAMA). Blaine and Jayne were active in the GLAMA organization and worked on many music festivals together. They purchased a Class A motorhome in 2007 to travel to bluegrass music festivals. Their favorite was the Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival at Bill Monroe's Music Park and campgrounds in Morganville, Indiana. They also used the R.V. to visit kids in Ohio, South Carolina, and Utah, relishing the opportunities to share time with their children and grandchildren and cheer on their endeavors. Upon retirement in 2016, Blaine and Jayne made a three-week trip to Utah, Yellowstone National Park, and Mount Rushmore with friends Greg and Marsha Hill. Anytime they traveled in the R.V. proved an unforgettable vacation.
Whether enjoying a hamburger and fries, playing his favorite tunes, traveling in his R.V., taking a walk, or encouraging his loved ones, Blaine lived life to the fullest. Though our days with him were far too few, every moment we shared with Blaine is a gift we will long treasure. May we find comfort in our shared memories and the honor of carrying forward his legacy of love, pride, excellence, music, and adventure.
Blaine Ray McLeod, age 68, died on January 28, 2024. He was preceded in death by his father, Kenneth, in 2006 and his mother, Beryl, in 2014. Surviving are his wife, Jayne; children: Nathan (Melanie) McLeod, Cam (Kelly) McLeod, Travis (Clarissa) McLeod, Andrew (Katie) Stender, Kate (Shannon) Hunter, and Betsy (Brian) Habich; grandchildren: Allix (Marcy) Ebel, Marissa (Zach) Needs, Daniel (Mio) McLeod, Johnathan McLeod, Quinton McLeod, Aiden Masters, Blake Moore, Daniel Habich, Andrew Habich, Alice Stender, Eva Stender, Mae Stender; 4 great-grandchildren; and siblings: John McLeod and Janelle McLeod.
Please join us for a Life Story Service at 10 AM on Saturday, May 4, at Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900. A reception will follow where food, drinks, and stories will be shared. During the reception, Blaine's fellow musicians are invited to bring their acoustic instruments and play a few songs. Memorial donations may be made to Great Lakes Acoustic Music Association. Visit Blaine's webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories and photos or sign his guestbook.