Monday, July 9, 2018
5:00 PM to 8:00 PM EDT
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Food and drinks will be served.
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
When reflecting on the life of Gordon Nagel, it is easy to see that he fully lived in each moment he was given. He wasn’t afraid to meet new people, and a friend of Gordy’s was a friend for life. Deeply devoted to his family, he was filled with unspeakable joy to witness his family tree blossom to include numerous branches of loved ones who were his greatest gift. A hard working man in everything he did, Gordy was such an inspiration. Life will never be the same without him here, but he leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that his loved ones will forever hold near and dear to their hearts.
Life during the 1930s was anything but easy as the entire decade was cloaked in the hardship of the Great Depression. Jobs were scarce, the unemployment rate soared, and things only went from bad to worse when a crippling drought covered our nation’s heartland for nearly two years during this time. Despite the trials around them, Frank and Matilda (Woods) Nagel were able to shift their focus to a joyous time in their own lives as they announced the birth of the baby boy they named Gordon Lee on November 30, 1931, in Michigan City, Indiana.
Raised in the New Buffalo area, Gordy was the middle of three kids as he was joined in his family alongside his siblings, Conrad and Lillian. His father worked as a heavy equipment operator in the Chicago area while his mother was a homemaker. Gordy ran track and did some boxing at the bars during the summer despite the fact that he was smaller in size. He spent lots of time on Lake Michigan fishing as they were close to the lake. Gordy also knew how to pitch a tent on the beach and had fun diving off the old iron bridge. He started working at a young age setting pins at the bowling alleys and delivering ice-blocks.
Although he attended local schools, he left school in 1950 to join the Navy and later the Air Force as he always wanted to fly. He was an electrician while serving and completed his training in Lackland Air Force Base. Gordy also spent time in the Far East including Okinawa, Japan. He earned his GED during this time.
One of the things Gordy was best known for was his strong work ethic. He spent some time working at Kalamazoo Label, and he and his co-worker, Claire, founded Cummins Label in October of 1972. In later years, all of his children worked there as well. Gordy worked tirelessly as he even worked nights and weekends. In 1992, Gordy retired as CEO of the company.
As a young man, new and exciting changes were in store for Gordy when he met a woman named Wanda Wesner. They were introduced by a friend of Wanda’s after Wanda spotted his picture in the local paper as she thought he was cute. Sparks flew right from the start, and it didn’t take the couple long to fall in love. They married at the justice of the peace. To save money, they skipped a honeymoon and he started school at Western Michigan University. Together they welcomed four children including Deb, Phil, Scott, and Kevin into their hearts and home. Gordy was a loving and devoted father, and although he was the disciplinarian in the family he was also very loving and giving. Steve Geer was a friend of his kids’ who was like another son to Gordy. In 2004, he was deeply saddened with Wanda’s death.
Throughout his life Gordy was one to keep busy. He and Wanda enjoyed bowling, and he also loved fishing, hunting, and golfing. In fact, Gordy even got a hole in one at Cheshire Hills a few years ago. He learned to fly when his children were in school, and over the years he earned several certificates including multi-engine and amphibious. Gordy flew all over and owned several planes throughout his life. He liked keeping up with politics and often watched Fox News. Gordy also liked westerns, both to watch and to read, as well as Louis L’Amour books and war and espionage stories. He likes pot roast, burnt pork chops, and hot dogs best, although he wasn't a picky eater. Gordy loved living in Oakwood as he enjoyed the parties, cookouts, and playing volleyball. He played dominoes and also loved the crap table, even making one for himself.
Gordy was thrilled to spend his sunset years with Trink, whom he met at a golf course 11 years ago. They shared many of the same interests including fishing. For the past four years, they wintered in Goodland, Florida, where they did plenty of fishing together.
All who knew Gordon Nagel would agree he worked hard and he made sure those around him had as much fun as he did. Gordy was a good listener and always thought before he spoke. He was fair and generous to his employees and loved spoiling his family as well. Deeply loved, Gordy will be forever missed.
Gordon Lee Nagel, of Kalamazoo, age 86, died peacefully on July 6, 2018, at his home. Surviving are 4 children: Deb (Rick) Hamming, Phil (Linda) Nagel, Scott (Connie) Nagel and Kevin (Wincie) Nagel; 6 grandchildren: Rich Hamming II, Christopher (Haley) Nagel, Ashley Wentzel, Tanner (Julie) Mattern, Schuyler Mattern, and Jory Nagel; 3 great-grandchildren: Klaire, Logan and Grace; significant other and dear friend, Yvonne “Trink” Jackson; and many nieces and nephews. Gordy was preceded in death by his wife, Wanda Nagel in 2004; brother, Conrad Nagel and sister, Lillian Priest. Visit with family and friends while sharing food and drinks on Monday, July 9, 2018 from 5-8 p.m. at the Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Dr. Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900 Services will be held Tuesday, July 10, 2018, 11 a.m. at Calvary Reformed Church (7829 5th St, Mattawan). A luncheon will follow in the church hall. Burial with military honors will take place at Mt. EverRest Cemetery. Please visit Gordy’s personal web page at www.betzlerfuneralhome.com, where you can archive a favorite memory or photo and sign his online guestbook before coming to the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made to Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan or St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.