Life Story Visitation
Monday, January 29, 2024
5:00 PM to 7:00 PM EST
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.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Don Philipp was a loving husband, father, grandfather, and a wonderful friend to all who knew him. Active throughout his life, he made the most of 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.
Don’s story begins in the year 1940. The optimistic feeling of leaving the depression behind led to the release of major motion pictures and jazz music boomed with the likes of Benny Goodman and Count Basie. During this time of hope and cheer, Richard and Zoe (Mills) Philipp welcomed home their son, Donald, on February 9th in Kalamazoo, Michigan. His birth brought much happiness into their loving home.
Don lived a typical childhood of the times and attended local schools, and graduated from Comstock High School. During his teen years, he worked at the Kalamazoo Civic Theater painting backdrops and building sets for local performances. He took great pride in his work on stage. However, his uncle owned auto body shop in town and started showing Don a few things. Don discovered he had a real knack for fixing up cars. Little did he know at the time that this would become his passion and career.
Not to be forgotten was the meeting of his future bride, Rosalie Andrysiak. He grew up in the home behind hers and spotted her walking to the bus stop one day. Don offered to give her a ride to work in his white convertible. Rosalie accepted the offer and from that moment on they rode back and forth from school each day. Before long, they enjoyed their first date at Milham Park to visit the zoo that was there in the late fifties., They married in 1959 and together, they raised five wonderful children and built a beautiful life.
As a family, they made many lasting memories. Don’s successful business afforded them a summer home on Bankson Lake in Lawton. The kids were accustomed to fishing off the dock and learned how to waterski in the refreshing waters. To their amusement, Don loved trying to get the kids to fall off while pulling them behind the boat! They enjoyed hosting friends at the lake and spent countless hours outdoors without a phone or a TV to distract them. Before departing, each guest carved their name or a message into beechnut tree in the yard. They made many special memories at their small sanctuary.
Camping was a favorite pastime and they traveled all over the country. Mammoth Cave was a memorable destination as it offered much to explore. Eventually, they traded their large tent for a pop-up camper with plenty of beds for everyone! When Don later became a grandfather, he turned in the pop-up for a motorhome and continued the tradition of camping with his grandkids. They were also members of a camping club which garnered them many friends.
Don held many special interests and all of them involved spending time with his growing family or special friends. He and Rosalie purchased acreage where they could raise horses. His kids helped him build a barn on the property and enjoyed spending time riding horses and managing the land. Don’s bonfires were legendary. Cutting their own endless supply of firewood meant his flames could reach 50 feet or higher!
A genuine prankster, Don found ways to bring laughter at the most opportune moments. When invited to a party, he’d bring along a fried grasshopper or crickets to add a little crunch and a big surprise for his unsuspecting friends. He was also known for scaring waiters at restaurants with a squirt gun or a fake mouse. Once, while biking around Mackinac Island, he brought a toy mouse to brunch at the Grand Hotel. This time though, the joke was on Don as his pocket turned up empty. Later that day, Rosalie found the toy mouse, peacefully sleeping under the covers in their motorhome.
Don had an extensive collection of target guns that he inherited from his dad. As chance would have it, while transporting his collection once he had the bad luck of a flat tire. One by one, Don had to remove the guns from the trunk to reach the spare tire. To the amazement of cars travelling by, there lay the full collection of guns on the side of the road.
No matter what, Don lived his life so that he could be proud of the person who was reflected back to him in the mirror each morning. He had a natural way of making others feel special in his presence. Described as a loyal friend as well as a beautiful person to know and to love, Don’s loving personality and dry sense of humor will be deeply missed and fondly remembered by his loved ones for generations to come.
Donald Philipp, age 83, of Kalamazoo, died on January 24, 2024. Surviving are his wife, Rosalie; children: Christopher (Leslie) Philipp, Jeffrey (Pamela) Philipp, Anne Marie DeGrace, and Gerald (Debra) Philipp; daughter-in-law, Angela Philipp; numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren; sister, Mary Petrick; and a niece and nephew. He is preceded in death by his son, Robert.
Please join us at a Life Story Celebration where food, drinks, and stories will be shared on Monday, January 29th from 5-7 pm at Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo 269-375-2900. A prayer service will be held at 7 pm. Mass will be celebrated on Tuesday, January 30th at 11 AM at St. Thomas More Catholic Parish, 421 Monroe St, Kalamazoo. Burial at Mt. Olivet Cemetery. Visit Don’s webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories, and photos, and to sign his guestbook.