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.
Kalamazoo Loaves and Fishes
901 Portage Street
Kalamazoo, MI 49001
Mattawan Area Pantry
PO Box 242
Mattawan, MI 49071
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
James Forden was a man who loved the Lord and valued his life. He enjoyed the good company of friends and loved ones, always seeing the best in people. He was a caring husband, a loving father, and a cherished grandfather and friend. We will dearly miss his presence in our lives.
The year in which Jim began his life, a new decade was also dawning, bringing in the year of 1940. The United States was finally starting to feel some relief from The Great Depression, but WWII raged on abroad. American citizens rolled up their sleeves to help with the war efforts - staffing factories or merely planting vegetable gardens to lessen the burden of the low food supply. The country supported Franklin D. Roosevelt, who won the nomination for an unprecedented third term in office. All the while, Jim was born in Chicago, Illinois, on October 28, 1940. Soon after, he and his older siblings made their journey to Southeast Michigan to live in foster homes. Jim stayed with Roy and Clara Diehl and unlike his siblings never returned to Chicago. As early as Jim could remember, he considered himself blessed to be part of the Diehl family.
The Diehl family lived on a small farm more than suitable for the likes of a young boy. Jim found all kinds of adventures and added them to his childhood memories. In the summers, he would head to the swamp where he would endlessly search for frogs. Always an avid outdoorsman, Jim loved to hunt and fish as well.
As he matured, he attended Mattawan High School and played on the tennis team. He graduated with the class of 1958. Before receiving his diploma, a certain girl captured his heart. Her name was Sharon Lounsbery, and though she was three years younger than he was - she never left his mind. The fact was that Sharon thought he was a pest in school and wanted nothing to do with him. When Sharon was a senior in high school, Jim reappeared in her life. He was persistence in asking her out on a date, and finally, she said yes to a date.
After a year of dating, Jim and Sharon exchanged vows on June 24, 1961, at the Lawton Methodist Church. The newlyweds lived in Lawton before eventually buying a farm in 1966. They enjoyed 110 acres, and over time, the land produced grapes, peaches, apricots, and apples. Jim only grew what he liked to eat.
While working and farming their land, Jim and Sharon celebrated the birth of three boys: Ken (1962), Roy (1964), and Jeff (1970). Jim was a good father and taught his children the importance of hard work. He modeled his tireless work ethic as he worked two jobs until his farm produced enough to support the family. His boys learned the value of the dollar and that nothing is ever free. He also proved that the farm was always capable of earning a buck or two.
Though he would push the kids out the door to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine, he certainly was a family man and cherished the moments he spent with his family. He made sure to take time for the family to be together. Annual trips to Cedar Point, fishing and hunting expeditions, and lots of hours spent working together on the farm were all important to Jim. The kids knew their father expected honest integrity every day.
The farm, which they named Skyline Vineyards and Orchards, is where Jim put his heart and soul throughout his life and for over 50 years. It was a labor of love, and he enjoyed everything about the farm. One of the greatest days of his life was when he was able to retire from his railroad job to work the farm full-time. The farm also served as a social opportunity, as their roadside stand created loyal customers - many of whom became good friends.
Jim participated in many activities, aside from being with family and working the farm. He communicated with others all over the world as a ham radio operator. He also loved to laugh and was quite the prankster - always up for a good joke. He liked to eat Chinese food and even had a bit of a sweet tooth. Cookies were one of his guilty pleasures, especially Oreos.
He took his faith and spirituality seriously and was active in his church. Jim liked the old hymns, and his favorite book was the Proverbs.
In time, Jim and Sharon joyfully celebrated the gift of grandchildren. Zachary, Hannah, Kaye, Sarah, Sam, Michael, and Jonah all held a special place in their grandfather's heart. Jim looked forward to coloring Easter Eggs and the magic of Christmas with them.
The season of Christmas was better with each grandchild, but Jim always adored the holidays. His family was his priority, and the holiday season allowed him quality time to spend with loved ones. He was a generous gift giver and always made sure to give the kids Lifesaver Candy Books for a present.
In 2008, Jim had open-heart surgery. Following that, he had a knee operation, which is when he began to show the signs of Alzheimer's disease. His decline in health was tough for Jim, as he was always an active person. His loving wife cared for him until he passed away in his home on November 30, 2019.
We will never forget his gentle demeanor and kind heart. We can lift the memory of his spirit as we strive to live with his words of wisdom, "Words said in anger can never be unspoken." Living in a world of kindness and love will always be a win. It is a comfort to know that Jim is at peace.
Jim Forden, age 79, of Texas Corners died on Saturday, November 30, 2019. Surviving members of his family include his wife Sharon, 2 children: Ken ( Karen) Forden and Jeff (Kelli) Forden, 7 grandchildren: Zachary, Hannah, Kaye, Sarah, Sam, Michael and Jonah, and a sister, Charlene (Rob) Holland. He was preceded in death by a son Roy, a sister Mary and a brother John. Funeral Services will be on Tuesday, December 3, 2019 at 2 pm at the Betzler & Thompson Life Story Funeral Home, 60900 M-40 Hwy; Paw Paw (269) 657-3870. The family will receive friends on Tuesday from 12 noon until the time of services. A reception will follow the service at the funeral home. Please visit Jim's personal web page at www.BetzlerLifeStory.com, where you can archive a favorite memory or photo and sign his online guestbook before coming to the funeral home. Memorial donations may be made to Loaves and Fishes or Mattawan Area Pantry.