Life Story Service
Monday, December 5, 2022
4:00 PM EST
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 can 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.
Little Hands Montessori Building Fund
P.O. Box 13
Richland, MI 49083
Gull Lake Country Club Yacht Club
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
There is no doubt that Dr. Christopher Uggen lived his life to the fullest. Known to squeeze every drop of energy into each day, he lived his life selflessly serving others. He held a fierce love for his family and enjoyed spending time with them. Gone too soon, Chris’ zest for life and his remarkable compassion for others will be his greatest legacy.
His story begins in the year 1976. NASA unveiled the first space shuttle, the Enterprise, and Jimmy Carter was elected President defeating Gerald R. Ford. During a promising time in our nation’s history, Christopher was welcomed home by his parents, Dr. William and RuthAnn Uggen on May 2nd in Richland, Michigan. His birth brought them great joy.
Chris’ early years were enriched by living on Gull Lake. His love of water was a constant theme during these years. He loved to be swimming, and fishing, as well as fell in love with sailing. Chris, his father, and his younger brother Jon participated in several regattas. A highlight was taking home the International 210 National Sailing Championships in 1986. In addition to his natural love of the water, Chris had a competitive streak on the soccer field and basketball court. Anything he set his mind to accomplish, he did so with one hundred and ten percent effort! He made the All-State soccer team and excelled in many academic areas including Boy Scouts, achieving the rank of an Eagle Scout. Although he attended the prestigious Kalamazoo Math and Science Center during his high school years, Chris was a proud graduate of Gull Lake High School in 1994. His time at KAMSC had a large impact on his participation with La Hai Roy Church in San Vicente, Mexico where he completed a medical missionary in 1999.
Following in his father’s footsteps, he started on his path to becoming an Orthopedic Surgeon by completing his undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan and receiving his Bachelor of Science in Biology degree. During this time, Chris spent one semester at sea, travelling around the world on a ship. This time abroad had a tremendous impact on Chris’s appreciation of foreign cultures, world religions, and his understanding that no matter where we are from and what our culture, customs and religious beliefs are, we all share our common humanity.
Upon graduating from the University of Michigan, Chris went on to earn his medical degree from the UCLA School of Medicine. During this intense time of study, Chris built lasting friendships with his fellows and became an avid ocean surfer. Ambitious and willing to take risks, he relocated to New Hyde Park, New York to complete his residency in orthopedic surgery at the prestigious LIJ/North Shore Medical Center. Chris also completed his fellowships in orthopedic sports medicine, shoulder surgery, and orthopedic trauma.
Chris was a compassionate orthopedic surgeon with outstanding academic achievements. He practiced at Ascension Borgess Hospital in Kalamazoo for thirteen years and also educated orthopedic surgery residents and medical students at the Western Michigan Homer Stryker MD School of Medicine. Chris truly embraced his professional mission to “provide each and every patient/athlete with the highest quality, compassionate care to relieve pain and restore function”. He used evidence-based, nonoperative and surgical techniques to return thousands of patients to full activity and a fulfilled life.
In addition to practicing orthopedic surgery, he served in many additional professional appointments and committees. A small sample of his significant awards and honors was being named the recipient of the Orthopedic Resident Educator of the Year while at WMU School of Medicine in 2016 and the AANA Snyder Award, Arthroscopy Instructor of the Year received in Hollywood, Florida in 2014. As a respected and renowned surgeon in his field, he also covered teams as the team physician for several Los Angeles teams including the LA Dodgers and Lakers as well as local Kalamazoo teams including the K-Wings, Kalamazoo Kingdom, and Kalamazoo Mayhem.
Chris met his loving wife, Maren Schierloh, in 2009 at Schuler’s restaurant in Marshall when he was just settling into his practice in Kalamazoo. He was immediately drawn to her sense of humor and adventurous personality. Maren was finishing up her Ph.D. at Michigan State University at the time and was drawn to Chris’ heart of gold, fierce intelligence, passion for his profession, and genuine desire to make this world a better place. Chris surprised Maren with a proposal by the ocean waves in Hawaii. On that memorable trip, they went swimming with dolphins, snorkeling together, and holding hands. They married on August 27, 2011, in the beautiful setting of Bay Harbor, Michigan. For their honeymoon, the two of them went bareboat sailing around Bora Bora on a monohull sailboat for ten blissful days. They experienced mostly calm waters and one long passage of rougher seas at the very end of their trip, a foreshadowing of the life they would live together.
Both adventure seekers, Chris and Maren took another memorable trip that involved driving from Germany all the way to Norway with Maren’s parents. Before starting their family, they also explored the North Channel in Canada on a catamaran with their yellow lab, Apollo. They were in awe while laying on the deck under the expanse of the Milky Way. Sharing a love for sailing, cooking, and adventurous travels, they were eager to build a family together and live life with a sense of fulfillment. Together, they welcomed home three wonderful children: Annelie, Catherine, and William. Team spirit and deep love were the essence of their life together. Maren supported Chris’s demanding surgeon schedule by filling lunchboxes with loving meals and getting up with him in the middle of the night when Chris was on trauma call. Chris supported Maren in her choice to become a stay-home-mom to raise their children and make the home a place of welcome and warmth.
As a family, he and Maren enjoyed sharing the world with their children. They took annual family trips including San Diego and drove down the coasts of Washington and Oregon in their camper. They also traveled back to Hawaii and took several family vacations with the entire Uggen family. Chris and Maren traveled to Germany several times and each year Chris and his brother Jon went skiing or fishing. Chris was happiest by the water. He loved sharing his love of the water with his three children. In his free time, he often went kiteboarding, sailing, windsurfing, surfing, or fly fishing. He felt a connection to the ocean, especially watching the sun set over it.
In addition to traveling, his favorite pastimes were playing the guitar and piano. Described as exceptionally loving and kind, there is no doubt that all those who knew and loved him will greatly miss his extraordinary ability to love unconditionally. Chris truly saw the good in others. He intrinsically understood that all people wanted to be loved. May his loved ones feel blessed to have shared his extraordinary life and may his memories be eternal.
Dr. Christopher W. Uggen, age 46, of Richland, Michigan, on November 30, 2022, a loving and devoted husband and father, died after a long battle with brain cancer. Chris is survived by his parents, wife, and children, as well as his brother and sister-in-law, Drs. Jon and Jennifer Uggen of Bennington, Nebraska, and two nieces. He was preceded in death by his brother, Stephen Uggen. Please join us in celebrating Chris’ life at Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes on Monday, December 5th at 4 pm for a celebration followed by a reception in the Life Story Center. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to the following organizations that will have valuable and tangible impacts on our community and the lives of children: Little Hands Montessori Building Fund, Cheff Therapeutic Riding Center, MSU Extension – Kalamazoo County 4-H Youth Program: please make donations out to HCCC or Gull Lake Country Club Yacht Club.