Life Story Visitation
Wednesday, February 21, 2024
11:00 AM EST
St. Catherine of Siena Parish
1150 W Centre Ave
Portage, MI 49024
A luncheon will follow in Marian Hall.
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
James S. Hatridge passed away peacefully at home surrounded by family on February 5, 2024 at the age of 92. Jim was born on May 26, 1931 on the South Side of Chicago, IL, the only child of Anna Sullivan, an immigrant from County Cork, Ireland. As a young boy, he and his mom struggled; jobs and money were scarce, making it difficult to maintain a family home. These humble beginnings, however, never held him back. In fact, Jim used his childhood as inspiration to build a better life.
Jim was a man of strong faith and attended and served the church his entire life. Jim went to Holy Name Elementary School and Mundelein Cathedral High School before attending and becoming a proud graduate of DePaul University where he was in the Marine Reserves. After graduation he was drafted into the Army and was sent to Fort Eustis, VA for basic training. Jim was not looking forward to being deployed to Korea, and, as luck would have it, he instead served in Germany. He always enjoyed sharing his “service stories” with his grandchildren. Camping in the mountains or relaxing with a pint of German beer were often a part of these tales, as was the time he somehow got lost and ended up on the wrong side of the border between East and West Germany!
After his service to the Army, he returned to Chicago where he embarked on a diverse career path, working for notable companies such as Peoples Gas and Light Coke Co., Illinois Central Railroad, and the Brunswick Corporation. Later, he transferred to Brunswick in Kalamazoo, MI. One beautiful 4th of July weekend on West Lake, he met the love of his life, Kathleen Moreland. Mutual friends orchestrated the meeting, hoping the pair would hit it off, and they did. A favorite family story is on their first date, Kitty pulled Jim close to the mirror and stood side by side, to make sure he was tall enough for the shoes she was wearing! Their relationship blossomed into a lifelong love story marked by humor (although Kitty didn’t always think Jim was that funny), warmth, and enduring companionship. Jim and Kitty were married at St. Joseph Catholic Church in 1960. The happy couple was excited for the life ahead of them, and Jim was thrilled to no longer be an only child. Kitty was the youngest of nine brothers and sisters who fully welcomed Jim into the family; Uncle Jim was definitely a favorite!
Jim and Kitty moved to California where he continued to work for Brunswick. There they were blessed with their two girls. After several years Brunswick sent them back to Kalamazoo where their two boys were born. Jim left Brunswick and joined Homemakers, a subsidiary of Upjohn. As he moved up in the company, the family moved from Kalamazoo to Ft. Lauderdale to Dallas and back to Portage over the next eight years. Jim continued working for Upjohn (which became Pharmacia and then Olsten) until he retired. Retirement did not slow him down much and he found pleasure in working for the Kalamazoo Auto Auction for many years.
Despite moving more often than they would’ve liked, Jim and Kitty were blessed to make many lifelong friends wherever they landed. Jim’s strong faith had him serve as an usher in every city his family moved to, including most recently, St. Catherine of Siena, until for health reasons he could no longer serve.
Jim was quite proud of his Irish heritage; a highlight of his life was a trip to the Emerald Isle in 2002. While there, he and Kitty split from the travel group for a day to search for his roots. What a delight when they found relatives still living there and were able to see the home where his mother was born. This adventure came with a new challenge, learning to drive on the opposite side of the road! They were also surprised at how casually the animals would walk in front of the car. Their experiences made this one of the best trips of their lives.
Jim also enjoyed reading, singing, whistling at random, but mostly spending time with his family. Without fail, he’d make time to talk, have a compliment that would boost your spirits, or tell a corny joke to bring you laughter. He would often sing “I’ll TakeYou Home Again Kathleen” to Kitty or compliment what she was wearing. Anything he could do to bring a smile to others made him happy.
The simple things in life brought Jim delight; a bowl of piping hot oatmeal, his first sip of freshly brewed tea in the morning, or a phone call from one of his children. His children and especially his grandchildren were his greatest pleasure. When you were with Jim, you truly were the most important person to him. He had a way of making you feel special and important; he really listened when people shared their stories. He was a wonderful husband, father, and so much more. He came from nearly nothing in his early years, and built a life to be proud of. His legacy of love, laughter, and compassion will continue to resonate in the hearts of those who carry on in his footsteps.
Jim is survived by his wife, Kitty; and his four children, 15 grandchildren, and three great grandchildren: Alice (Mark) Erlandson, parents of Madison, Emma, and Claire; Jennifer (Nick) Hrab, parents of Holly and Abbey; James (Sheri) Hatridge, parents of Christopher, Patrick, Kendalyn Freeland, and Ryan (Dawn) Freeland, parents of Finn; and John (Jodie) Hatridge, parents of Jason (Sam) Stiver, parents of Remington; Jessica Stiver, parent of Harper; Gus, Luke, Chloe, and Cody.
Please join us at a Life Story Visitation on Tuesday, February 20th from 5-7 PM at Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900. The Rosary will be recited at 7 PM. Mass will be celebrated 11 AM Wednesday, February 21st at St. Catherine of Siena Parish with a luncheon to follow in Marian Hall. Burial at Fort Custer National Cemetery is scheduled for 2:30 PM on February 21st. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Centrica Care Navigators who provided Jim and his family such compassionate hospice care. Visit Jim’s web page at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories, photos, or sign his guestbook.