Where Food, Drinks & Stories Are Shared

Mike King

September 1, 1952 - August 24, 2017
Kalamazoo, MI



Monday, August 28, 2017
5:00 PM to 7:00 PM EDT
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
Kalamazoo Location
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
(269) 375-2900

Food and drinks will be served.

Driving Directions


Tuesday, August 29, 2017
11:00 AM EDT
St. Joseph Catholic Church
936 Lake Street
Kalamazoo, MI 49001

A party will follow the service at Sharespear's Pub (241 East Kalamazoo Avenue, Kalamazoo, MI 49007)

Web Site


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.

Pretty Lake Burn Camp
9123 Q Ave.
Mattawan, MI 49071
Web Site


Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.

1830 S. Westnedge
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
(269) 349-4961
Driving Directions
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


To give the life of Michael Russell King a title or theme, one that just might work is A Rebel With A Cause - but he never really knew it.

As the family and friends of Michael King (Mike) have prayed hard in recent days and attempted to process his unexpected passing, both the fun, fun-living and relatively-harmless rebel and the virtuous causes, for which he lived, are quickly coming to light. Not trying to paint dad as a saint - yet, but we faithfully beg in sincere hope, remembering the love and joy he shared in his 65 years, that he might well be on his way toward beholding the beatific vision - perfect communion with God - Heaven.

Mike was born, the son of William King and Ruth Lint, on September 1, 1952, in Battle Creek, MI. He was the oldest of three children, and is survived by his brother (Jim) and sister (Janet Martin).

If Mike ever had a reputation as a wild child or rebel, it started in Comstock, MI. The stories are quite muddled, but it may or may not be true that Mike was the typical older brother of the 1950s and 60s, taking shots at his brother with a BB gun in the corn fields; babysitting his siblings in the parking lot of the Eagles Lodge, sustained with Pepsi and red-skinned peanuts; taking some friends for a ride in a car, without the owner’s permission, and maybe even skipping class to go to the pool hall to make a couple bucks, returning the seed money to ma’s wallet. The details of these years are really no longer important, but the changes in the man are.

In 1968, Mike met the love of his life Jo Ellen Alban, who was in the need of help with her school books as she had broken her leg in a car accident and was on crutches. Mike took the opportunity, which he would never regret. This is the only in-school-related story that his children have ever heard and that may actually exist.

Jo Ellen was a Catholic girl - the only Catholic in either of their immediate families. And little did he know that dating her and later talking with her Catholic pastor, Fr. Fitzgerald, would change his life forever.

Mike and Jo Ellen were married at St. Joseph Catholic Church, in Kalamazoo, on May 17th, 1975, and although Jo Ellen had already begun to tame the relatively "wild one", he was and remained a work in progress. Mike made a promise, one that he meant and kept, that he would support his wife’s practice of the Catholic faith and raise their potential children in the faith. And unwittingly, Mike was dupped by the Lord and Mike let himself be dupped, as the Prophet Jeremiah put it. The Lord had plan for Mike.

Two years later they welcomed the first of their five children, each of whom have played their role in helping Mike mature into the greatest of fathers and later grandfathers.

Mike had his earlier hobbies. He loved riding motorcycles of different sorts over close to 50 years, golfed as well as he could, played pool, liked to fish, and tried to hunt. Whether he realized his sacrifice or not, he allowed his hobbies to fade and his children’s passions to become his own. Not only did he get involved in the strange sport of soccer, but he followed his children around the country, coached, and helped build the fledgling community in Kalamazoo in the little ways he could - for the love of his kids, and he loved it. Whether soccer, baseball, softball, volleyball, other sports, school, and later their professional pursuits, Mike loved and supported his children, unconditionally. He had even given up his bike for a long while, and his kids were his hobbies! For most of the 1980s and 1990s, Mike could be found at a St. Augustine or Hackett Catholic Central event or the Kalamazoo Soccer Complex from dawn to dusk.

Life goes on and kids grow up. Sometimes sons (all three) grow up to buy motorcycles and want to ride with dad. As hobbies go, there were few happier days in Mike’s life than when all the King boys, and accomplices, were all out on the road together. His hobby, became theirs and oh the smiles it produced.

Similarly, nothing could make Mike laugh or smile in recent years more than his four grandchildren. And who would ever think that his tendency toward order, and having everything just right, could lead to many spirited and always fun hours of laying on the floor or sitting with his grandchildren putting together the most elaborate Lego sets or coloring? And who would ever think that he could let go of some of those tendencies, allowing for a little chaos, having been softened by the smiles, hugs, and kisses of little ones? Other than Jo’s life-long effort, no one did more to tame Mike and bring the best out of him than his grandchildren.

In this fallen world, a man’s story is not complete without his work. It is an important part of who we are. For roughly 35 years, Mike has been a truck driver, for regional firms. He worked hard, always for his family, and received recognition for his 1-million miles of being accident free, while with Con-Way Freight, in recent years. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that Mike didn’t always love working. He was, however, good at what he did and however he engaged co-workers, he did it with a smile, even if only to get a rise out of them. And regardless of what that engagement was, the co-worker likely managed a smile too - sooner or later, if even today.

Working in the trucking industry demands a handle; Mike’s these past 25-or-so years was “Lumpy.” But this did not exhaust the nicknames he was given. To some “Lumpy”, others “Big Daddy King”, too often “Mr. King”, as “MoRo”, “Whackadoodle”, “Old Man”, and to a few “Black Denim” (don’t ask), among others. But the names he earned the most and was most proud of were “dad” and “grandpa”, and there is no one who loved him more than those who invoke God’s mercy using these names, in prayer today.

During these recent days, since Mike’s passing, the messages, posts, and texts have been extremely uplifting and helpful. Thank you to everyone who has called and sent condolences. A couple really hit home and are worth sharing here:

"I'm crushed to learn that one of the biggest, sweetest men I've ever known is gone. Mike King was a wonderful father to two daughters and three sons, an honorable husband to an eternally patient wife, a doting grandfather, a connoisseur of Miller Lite and jalapeño-laced pizzas, a loather of green pants and blue shirts, and Kalamazoo County's unofficial mustache champion 1974-present. Jo Ellen has always been the brains behind the King operation, but Mike was the heart. And it will never be the same without him…”;

“Your dad set the bar and then continuously raised it for what a father should be to his family. I'm so glad to have known him…”, and

"Whenever people think of your dad, they smile... what a true gift."

With a bit of humor and a whole lot of love, that was dad.

Everyone who takes the time to read this whole thing likely has their own stories of Mike. He always had a story for you; wanted to hear yours, and would buy anyone a beer, whether it was a Miller Lite or not. Forget the bad ones and remember the good. Hopefully they make you smile today. You know his smile, his laugh, and have felt his love. That was his cause - to love! His cause was his family, immediate and extended. Mike had a big heart. He gave his heart to all of us - all of it, and in his loving he didn’t keep any for himself.

Our consolation remains in the hope of eternal salvation, offered to us by Jesus Christ, who died for Mike on Calvary. He was graced with the chance to kiss his beloved wife, of over 42 years, moments prior to surgery; and she the chance to kiss her King.

Michael Russell King, Sr. entered into eternal life Thursday, August 24, 2017, after complications following surgery, in Kalamazoo, MI.

Mike is survived by his loving wife Jo Ellen, and their children Brent (Amy), Danielle (Jason), Marla, Michael II, and Garrett; his grandchildren Anna, Enzo, Natalie, and Becket Michael, as well as numerous extended family and adopted family accumulated over almost 65 years of joy-filled living.

Please keep Mike in your continued prayers in the days to come. He loved so very well, and was so much loved. He will be sincerely missed!

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, And let the perpetual light shine upon him. And may his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen