Life Story Visitation
Wednesday, March 30, 2022
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.
A lunch will follow in the Life Story Center following the service.
Wednesday, April 13, 2022
11:00 AM CDT
Sinai West Cemetery, SD
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.
Good Samaritan Fund C/O Prince of Peace Lutheran Church
P.O. BOX 161
Arlington, SD 57212
Arlington Veteran Memorial
Make checks payable to:
Arlington Community Foundation
P.O. BOX 318
Arlington, SD 57212
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Please click here to watch 'Conversations With Conrad', a video portrait.
All who knew Conrad Tisland would agree that the secret to a content life was embodying the values of a farmer: hardworking and dedicated to family. A proud husband and father, he was a constant source of strength, even in the most difficult of times. He was a patriot who was honored to serve his country, and Conrad was always willing to help those around him. He treasured his family above all else, and he cherished whatever time he could spend with his loved ones. Well known for his love of hunting, Conrad poured his heart into everything he did. Deeply loved, he will be forever missed.
During the first half of the 1940s, the eyes of our nation were focused overseas as WWII raged on. Stateside, rationing became a way of life, and countless American families eagerly awaited the latest news from the frontlines. It was also during this time that Carl and Hazel “June” (Nelson) Tisland were pleased to announce the birth of the baby boy they named Conrad Elwood on September 1, 1943, in Sinai, South Dakota.
Growing up, Conrad was a typical young man of his generation. He was raised in the family home alongside his two older siblings, Dawn and Mark. Conrad’s father worked as a farmer raising crops. At a young age, Conrad began learning the value of hard work as he helped out on the farm in addition to attending a one-room schoolhouse. It has been said that he much preferred farming to schoolwork. Conrad enjoyed basketball, although he wasn’t very tall, and he went on to graduate from Rutland High School in 1961.
At first, Conrad decided against pursuing higher education. His childhood love of planes inspired him to enlist in the Air Force, however before he officially enlisted he decided to help his father on the farm as his father was injured in a serious farm accident. Once his father was recovered, Conrad was able to serve his country in the Air Force. He completed basic training in Texas and then traveled to Kincheloe in the Upper Peninsula. Conrad enjoyed his time in the UP and always said that the Air Force had the best food. He worked hard to become an airplane mechanic and completed four years in the Air Force.
Following his time in the military, Conrad attended Flint Jr. College in order to become a history teacher. He balanced his education with a job at General Motors as well. Conrad later transferred to Western Michigan University Teacher College, graduating with a major in economics and a minor in history. He began student teaching at Loy Norrix in Kalamazoo, but he found that teaching wasn’t a great fit for him. Conrad then took a real estate course and later began working in real estate with Westdale Real Estate. He was even named salesman of the year in 1979.
New and exciting changes were on the horizon for Conrad when he met the woman who would become the love of his life. Her name was Dorothy Haskamp, and the two first met at Continental Lanes Bowling Alley. He asked this beautiful young girl with long brown hair to dance, and the rest is history. They dated for four years, and Conrad always said he left South Dakota to return to Kalamazoo to be with Dorothy. With a desire to spend the rest of their lives together Conrad and Dorothy were married on May 27, 1977, at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church. They enjoyed a honeymoon driving out to Maine and Vermont and then returned to the area to begin their new life together as husband and wife. Conrad was thrilled to welcome her two children, Tom and Julie, into his heart and life and loved them as his own.
As loved ones can attest, Conrad valued his family above all else. He was very involved in the lives of his children and did his best to exemplify responsibility and kindness. Conrad loved taking them on annual trips to Cedar Point where he rode the rides right along with them. He was very active in Tom’s Boy Scouts as well, and when Tom and Julie were older Conrad always warmed up their cars and brush the snow off to get the vehicles all ready for them. Conrad also taught the children how to drive a stick in their 1977 powder-blue Pinto. He was always available to take his children to sporting events and activities, and his signature whistle would let them know that he was cheering for them. Later in life, Conrad was overjoyed to become a grandfather and watch his grandchildren grow. He was very involved with them and would often take them sledding or biking, and he was always open to simply sitting down and talking with them whenever they needed it.
In order to care for himself and his family, Conrad worked in maintenance at DNR Fish Lake Hatchery for about 20 years. He fixed the oxygen tank sensors, and over the years he saved thousands of fish. To this day, the work Conrad put in at the company is still in use. He was always very proud of his job, and he was well known for his strong work ethic.
Never one to sit still for long, Conrad pursued many hobbies. He enjoyed traveling by car and taking road trips, visiting historical sites, and he took several trips to Northern Michigan beaches. Conrad and his family liked hiking with their dog, Ranger, as well as tent camping. The family biked around Mackinac Island and walked across the Mighty Mac. Throughout his entire life, he worked out every day, and he was also known for his big appetite. Conrad loved everything Dorothy made in addition to vanilla Hudsonville Ice Cream. After taking Tom or Julie to the dentist, he often rewarded them with a milkshake at Russ’ Restaurant. In addition to Ranger, he was an animal lover who loved cats. After retiring, Conrad and Dorothy adopted a cocker spaniel named Meggie who went everywhere with them. He loved hunting, especially coyotes, and owned a large assortment of guns. Conrad was a proud veteran and patriot, and he enjoyed history. He was known to whistle whenever he was doing dishes or gardening, and he always spoke his mind. Conrad shoveled the entire driveway when it snowed throughout much of his life. He and Dorothy loved going antiquing together, and he lived by his motto of, “PMA All the Way” (Positive Mental Attitude).
Later on in life, Conrad was able to retire in Arlington, South Dakota near his family’s land in Sinai. He enjoyed 14 great years of retirement with Dorothy. Conrad was very involved in the little community, and he and Dorothy both enjoyed embracing the simple things of life. At different times, all the grandkids were able to spend some summertime in Arlington where Conrad taught them how to shoot a gun and bow and walk the land he cherished. He was proud of the stories of ancestors and shared those stories with all the grandkids. Conrad was also very active in Arlington Museum and Arlington Veteran Memorial. Six years ago, Conrad suffered a stroke and decided to move back to Kalamazoo in order to be near family. He was very grateful to Dorothy for caring for him for those years, and he considered himself blessed to be surrounded by so many loved ones.
When reflecting on the life of Conrad Tisland, it is easy to see his unwavering strength and unconditional love of his family. His primary focus was fostering relationships with those around him, and he had a heart for serving those in need. Conrad was a shining example of bravery and kindness, and he never shied away from speaking his mind. Though he will be deeply missed, Conrad leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that will be forever treasured.
Conrad Elwood Tisland, of Kalamazoo, age 78, died peacefully at Rose Arbor Hospice on March 28, 2022. Conrad was born September 1, 1943 in Sinai, SD, the son of Carl and Hazel “June” (Nelson) Tisland. He was an Air Force Veteran and retired from the DNR Wolf Lake Fish Hatchery. Preceded in death by his parents and sister, Dawn Brown. Members of his family included his wife of 45 years, Dorothy (Haskamp) Tisland; children: Thomas (Tiffany) Ballard and Julie (Scott) Betzler; grandchildren: Whitney and Jack Ballard, and Cooper and Camryn Betzler; brother: Mark (Lee) Tisland; brother-in-law: Jerry Brown; and many nieces, nephews, and in-laws. A Life Story Visitation will be held Wednesday (MAR 30) from 5-7PM where food, drinks, and stories will be shared, at Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900. Services will be held Thursday (MAR 31) 11AM at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church (1747 W. Milham Ave.). A lunch will follow the service in the Life Story Center. Burial will take place on Wednesday (APR 13) 11AM at Sinai West Cemetery in Sinai, SD. Please visit Conrad’s personal web page at BetzlerLifeStory.com, where you can read his life story, archive a favorite memory or photo, and sign his online guestbook before coming to the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made to Arlington Museum, Arlington Veteran Memorial or Good Samaritan Fund C/O Prince of Peace Lutheran Church.