Saturday, February 25, 2023
2:00 PM EST
First Congregational Church
345 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo, MI 49007
A reception will follow in the church atrium.
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.
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
262 Danny Thomas Place
Memphis, TN 38105
West Michigan Cancer Center
200 N Park
Kalamazoo, MI 49007
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Robert Woodrow was a loving husband, father, grandfather, and a wonderful friend to all who knew him. Active throughout his life, he made the most of each and every moment. He modeled a lifetime of showing compassion towards others and his wonderful collection of memories and natural sense of humor will remain dear to his special family and friends forevermore.
Bob’s story begins in the year 1940. The feel-good sense of leaving the depression led to the release of major motion pictures, and jazz music boomed with the likes of Benny Goodman and Count Basie. Manley and Arlene Woodrow welcomed home their son, Robert, on September 23rd in Traverse City, Michigan. His birth brought much happiness into their loving home.
During Bob’s early childhood he grew up in Traverse City and Dundee Michigan. He loved all sports but was exceptional in both baseball and basketball. He made the varsity team in basketball in the middle of his J.V. season as a result of his hard work on the court. He ended up all-state in basketball yet also held outstanding records on the baseball and football field. Soon after graduating with the Class of 1959, he played for the semi-pro baseball team, the Muskegon Pepsi’s. With a strong desire to serve his country, Bob enlisted in the United States Army in 1961. After basic training in Fort Knox and playing on their baseball team, he was stationed in Germany. He received training in radio teletype (Morse Code) and played catcher for the World Baseball Armed Forces championship team, the Darmstadt (Germany) Comets. During his time in Europe, he was selected to five All-Star teams and received three MVP awards before he was discharged in 1964.
Back in the states, Bob received his Associate’s degree in liberal arts from Northwestern Michigan Community College in 1965 where he was the leading scorer on the basketball team. He later transferred to Western Michigan University to pursue a Bachelor’s in Physical Education and Geography. Bob poured himself into his career as an educator and returned to receive his Master’s in Education while teaching in Kalamazoo. Always willing to learn and advance himself in the field, he later earned a specialist degree working with culturally and economically disadvantaged students. A highlight of these busy years was his role as the Recreation Director for WMU's, Upward Bound program.
Bob spent a remarkable thirty-one years as a professional educator and coach in the Kalamazoo Public Schools. His career began in 1968 when he taught and coached at South Jr. High, and then Kalamazoo Central, as well as Hillside Middle School. He was head coach at the junior high level in football, basketball, tennis, and wrestling. He worked his way to the assistant football and baseball coach at Loy Norrix High School and later the head football coach at Kalamazoo Central High School. During the summer months, he worked as a sales representative for a local roofing company. He seldom remained idle. Juggling his family, coaching, and career filled his time and his need to keep himself busy. Bob was a natural at his craft. An inspirational leader, he taught his students the solid fundamentals that applied both in sports and everyday life. His former students often reflected on how often they have used many of Bob’s philosophies and coaching skills that he taught them in their own careers.
During his well-earned retirement years, Bob enjoyed each day to its fullest. He worked for Royal Publishing doing athletic programs for district finals for the Michigan High School Athletic Association. He also gave much of his time and resources to his family. Bob was a devoted father and grandfather and enjoyed coaching many of his family members in sports. If he wasn’t coaching, he was always the loudest cheerleader on the sidelines for his kids and grandkids. For relaxation, Bob enjoyed boating, playing tennis and pickleball, as well as golf, and biking. Over the course of his life on the golf course, he had four and a half holes in one! The half was because the ball hit the pin and bounced out! Whenever he had the chance, he enjoyed traveling up to Traverse City to spend time at the cottage with family and friends. Above all else, he savored his time with his growing family who meant the world to him.
No matter what Bob lived his life so that he could be proud of the person that was reflected back to him in the mirror. He had a natural way of making others feel special in his presence. Bob was the type of person that anyone could call in a time of need. Personable and easy-going, he committed himself to help make his community a better place. Described as a wonderfully loyal friend as well as a beautiful person to know and to love, Bob will be deeply missed and lovingly remembered for generations to come.
Robert Woodrow, age 82, of Kalamazoo, MI, died on December 26, 2022. Bob was preceded in death by his parents; brother, David; and sister, Meredith. Surviving is his wife of 54 years, Barbara; children: Rob (Alice) Woodrow and Kim (Todd) Mrozinski; grand-children: Parker, Addison, Matthew, and Avery; and brother-in-law, Tom Novak.
A funeral service will be held Saturday (FEB 25) at 2 PM at First Congregational Church, 345 W. Michigan Ave., Kalamazoo. A reception will follow in the church atrium. Visit Bob’s webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories, photos, and sign his guestbook. Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo 269-375-2900.