Monday, August 12, 2019
4:00 PM to 7:30 PM EDT
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Food and refreshments will be served. The rosary will be recited at 7:30pm.
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.
Midwest Augustinians, Province of Our Mother of Good Counsel
5401 South Cornell Avenue
Chicago, IL 60615
Manna Community Meal
1050 Porter Ave
Detroit, MI 48216
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
All who knew Larry Fleck would agree that he was kind and compassionate with a selfless spirit which underlined everything he did in ways both great and small. Larry’s love of God and devotion to his Catholic religion informed and guided him throughout his lifetime. Larry was blessed with the gift of family; his love for his wife, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren was easy to see. Although he accomplished so much of which to be proud, he was a humble man whose greatest accomplishments were found in the moments he shared with his loved ones. Deeply cherished, Larry will be forever missed.
As the 1930s dawned in America, our nation was in the midst of the Great Depression. Despite the circumstances around them, James and Mary Fleck were able to find great joy in their own lives as they announced the birth of a baby boy they named Lawrence on February 24, 1931, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. One of four, Larry would later be joined by his brothers, Bruce and Clinton, and his sister, Marilyn. At age 5, in 1936, the family moved to West Acres in West Bloomfield Township.
As a young boy, Larry was one to work hard. After receiving a bike from Santa at the age of 10, he became a young entrepreneur who delivered magazines and papers for the next five years. Six days a week, Larry would take the two-hour route to deliver the Pontiac Daily Press on his bike. In the winter, Larry would complete his route by walking or by skiing. From time to time his father would pull him for fun on his skis behind the car, which was something Larry greatly enjoyed.
Larry attended the local schools in West Acres until the family moved back to Kalamazoo in 1945. He played football at St. Augustine High School and was a part of the Class C State Championship basketball team there in 1949. When he did have some free time, Larry liked to play ping pong, tennis, golf, and softball as well as hunt and fish with his best pals, Jerry Wilson and Jerry Flach.
It was Jerry Flach who was the connection between Larry and the young woman of his dreams. Her name was Helen, and she was Jerry’s sister. They went out after Larry had finished his last semester at Western Michigan University, and the rest is history as they say. They went to a dance that evening and would return there to dance several times after that. With a desire to spend the rest of their lives together, Larry and Helen were married on a bright and sunny day, September 8, 1956, at St. Edwards Catholic Church in Vicksburg. The newlyweds spent their honeymoon traveling around the UP and Lake Michigan.
There was no greater joy in Larry’s life than his family. Together he and Helen welcomed seven children into their hearts and homes: James, Kevin, Sharon, Linda, Janette, Gregory, and Julie. A loving father, Larry was an active part of his children’s lives. Among all of the invaluable things he taught them was how to live by a strong moral code, how to stay out of debt, and the importance of going to church. Larry was there to support and encourage his children in everything they did, and his love for them was unconditional.
It was easy to see that Larry had a drive to succeed. He completed his graduate work at Michigan State University. In the course of earning his PhD in Analytical Chemistry, Larry had the opportunity to learn German and French in order to be able to read scientific publications in three languages. Larry’s last examination was an oral defense of his thesis, thus finishing his doctorate in 1961.
Larry spent 27 years working as a senior research scientist for General Motors in Warren, Michigan. One of his more interesting assignments was work on air bags and air bag inflators. Larry holds three patents for airbags and one patent for anti-fog glass coatings from his work at GM.
Even in his free time, Larry was one to keep busy. He loved traveling and camping, particularly at Ludington State Park where multiple generations of his family have gathered for 50 years for a two weeklong camping trip. Larry also enjoyed fishing and boating, golfing, wood carving, gardening, square dancing, as well as model rockets and planes. For years Larry coached softball, baseball, and basketball. Outside of work, he used his scientific thought processes to make his home more energy efficient. Larry rarely needed to contract out work around the house, as he could do most things himself. In fact, he even built his own home in the 1990s, digging a pond in order to have a heat pump. Larry was always striving to be more energy efficient, and although he had a fireplace it was never used for that reason.
With a life that spanned times of great change in the world around him, Larry Fleck was a charismatic lover of all people. He was outgoing and social with a zest for life that was contagious to all who were near. Larry was generous in giving his time and resources to various charities, and his devotion to his catholic faith was truly an inspiration. Life will never be the same without him here, but he leaves behind a timeless legacy that his loved ones will proudly carry on in his footsteps.
Lawrence Fleck, PhD, of Scotts, died peacefully on August 6, 2019. He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Helen; 7 children: James Fleck, Kevin (Cindy) Fleck, Sharon Fleck, Linda (John) Tache’, Janette (Brian) Fleck Macks, Gregory Fleck and Julie Oppedisano; grandchildren: Amanda, Melissa, Hannah, Carrie, Felicia, Kristin, Justin, Trevor, Kaylin, Marisa, Kyle, Anna; great-grandchildren: Alaina and Easton; siblings: Bruce and Clinton Fleck and Marilyn Bloom; and many nieces and nephews. Visit with family and friends while sharing food and refreshments from 4–7:30 PM on Monday (Aug. 12) at Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Dr., Kalamazoo, 269-375-2900, where the rosary will be recited at 7:30 PM. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11 AM on Tuesday (Aug. 13) at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 936 Lake St., Kalamazoo. A luncheon will follow at the church hall. Burial will take place at Mt. Olivet Cemetery after the luncheon. Visit Larry’s personal webpage at www.BetzlerLifeStory.com where you may archive a favorite memory or photo and sign his online guestbook before coming to the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made to Manna Community Meal or Midwest Augustinians.