Life Story Service
Saturday, June 10, 2023
3:00 PM EDT
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
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.
10515 E O P Ave
Scotts, MI 49088
4570 Commercial Ave Suite E
Portage, MI 49002
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
A master of puns and an amazing patriarch, Howard Cain lived a life rich in family and friends. A man who embodied the principles he believed in, Howard was a powerful role model for living a generous and meaningful life. He welcomed every moment as a blessing and every person as a friend. With an unwavering devotion to his family and dedication to being of service, Howard was always willing to help others. He worked hard, played hard, and always led with his heart, freely giving his gifts and ensuring comfort and support at every turn. For those who knew him best, there was no doubt that in his good company, everything was better. A loving and devoted husband, father, grandfather, and friend, Howard will long be remembered and so very missed.
1926 found the nation continuing to ride the roaring wave of peace, prosperity, and hope. It proved a decade of many firsts, including the birth of motels, Sears Roebuck stores, broadcasts from the Grand Ole Opry, Chrysler Corporations, the 40-hour workweek, and the nation’s first female governor. As the wave of sweeping social and economic growth rapidly increased, nowhere was there more hope for the future than in rural Alabama as Howard and Augusta (Weise) Cain welcomed their son, Howard, to their family on May 27th.
Growing up during the Depression and the middle of five children, Howard’s early years were filled with challenges. In hopes of finding work in the auto industry, his father brought the family to Michigan, and they settled in Saginaw. In time, his parents divorced, and Howard lived with his mother. A hard-working, determined WWI bride from Germany, she proved a strong influence on Howard. She supported the family by selling goods door-to-door. With a keen business sense, she and another single mother eventually bought the White Swan Motel on Dort Highway in Mt. Morris, Michigan.
Howard attended Arthur Hill High School until the family moved to Birch Run. At the age of 16, he graduated from Birch Run High School with the class of 1942. In 1944 he was drafted into the Army to serve his country during WWII. He moved up the ranks quickly, becoming a Sergeant Major and receiving the Bronze Star for meritorious service.
In 1946, Howard safely returned home at the age of 21 and enrolled at Michigan State University on the GI Bill to study accounting. Between his first and second years at MSU, Howard met the love of his life, Ruby Hodges, at a dance hall west of Saginaw. For Ruby, it was love at first sight. The couple dated for two years before marrying on June 25, 1949, at the Methodist Church in Mt. Morris.
Ruby worked while Howard finished his studies, graduating with his degree in August of 1951. With a degree and a baby daughter, Mary Elizabeth, the family moved to Kalamazoo, where Howard began his accounting career with Ernst and Ernst public accountants. Over the years, the family grew to include three more children, Julie Ann, Timothy John, and Laurie Kathleen. In 1971 he left E&E and went to work for IRDC in Mattawan as Treasurer and CFO. He retired from IRDC in 1990, but he did not retire from work. Howard enjoyed connecting with people, and his volunteer activities gave him many opportunities to do so. Over the years, he volunteered for SCORE, The Gilmore, Planned Parenthood, Kalamazoo Public Schools, Kalamazoo in Bloom, Senior Services, Tillers International, and Lending Hands. He received the career volunteer STAR Award in 1997.
Howard was devoted to his family and worked long, hard hours to provide for them. With Ruby at his side, he helped afford his children braces, college educations, and even helped Mary become an exchange student. He and Ruby consciously created a loving, supportive, and special home. He made each of his children feel special, and their home was a place where the neighborhood kids gathered and enjoyed many good times. Howard ensured they had the neatest sandbox, with new sand each year, and in the winter an ice-skating rink in the front yard. Despite his demanding career, Howard always made time for his family, enjoying the simple pleasures of time together at Lake Michigan, cookouts with old college friends with their families, and trips to the sledding hill.
Lifelong learners, Howard and Ruby set the example with their own college educations and eagerness to learn new things. Howard firmly believed that “if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is,” and “there is no such thing as a free lunch.” He never shied from the work required to learn and readily expanded his knowledge and skills in more ways than could be counted. From working in his yard to volunteering in many organizations, he never hesitated to welcome an opportunity to grow. As an adult, his learning adventures included things such as flying an airplane, riding a unicycle, juggling, playing the banjo, and sailing. He encouraged his children and grandchildren to gain as many marketable skills as possible and was deeply proud that his kids and grandkids graduated from college. One of the greatest gifts Howard gave his family was the example of his marriage to Ruby. Firmly rooted in mutuality, he and Ruby were living examples of how to create and nurture an enduring, loving partnership. When age and declining health forced them to move to assisted living in 2022 after 34 years in their beloved house, Howard found comfort in his family.
Though the world feels far less certain in the absence of Howard’s steadfast companionship, may we find much comfort in our many treasured memories. May we also find comfort in the honor of carrying his beautiful legacy of love forward. In each moment we choose curiosity and courageous perseverance, volunteer our time and talents, gather for a cookout, enjoy a good book, tend our home, or take to the dance floor with our beloved, we celebrate the many ways Howard gifted our lives. In this way, he will continue to be an inspiration for living wholeheartedly and with gratitude for every moment.
Howard Cain was born in rural Alabama on May 27, 1926, to Howard and Augusta (Weise) Cain. Howard died on Thursday, June 1, 2023. He leaves behind his wife of 74 years, Ruby; 3 children: Mary Shuster, Julie (John) Cain-Derouin, and Laurie Cain, all of Kalamazoo. His son Timothy Cain preceded him in death in 1995. He also leaves 6 grandchildren: Dr. Katherine (Joshua Kiel) Shuster of Mt. Juliet, TN; Levi (Rachel) Cain of Hudsonville, MI; Ebiri (Alicia) Nkugba of Grand Rapids, MI; James (Melody Lyee) Shuster of Bellevue, WA; Sam (Ksenia) Derouin of Ada, MI; Will (Michele) Derouin of Suttons Bay, MI; 9 great-grandchildren: Zacchaeus and Atticus Cain; Zion, Shiloh and Maya Nkugba; Arthur and Lucas Derouin; Eliana Kiel, and Leo Shuster.
Please join us on Saturday, June 10, 2023, at 2 pm for a Life Story Service at Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900. Cremation has taken place, and burial will be in Mt. Ever-Rest North Memorial Park. A reception where food, drinks, and stories will be shared will be held in the Life Story Center immediately following the service. Visit Howard’s webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories, photos, and sign his guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society, Tillers International, or Lending Hands.