Thursday, February 17, 2022
11:00 AM EST
Crossroads Missionary Church
Mendon, MI 49072
A luncheon will follow in the church hall. While we appreciate everyone’s love and support during this time, we ask that if you are not feeling well or are showing signs of COVID, please attend in spirit.
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
To say that Norm Kohler had a passion for enjoying life would be an understatement. His optimistic outlook and sense of humor endeared him to family, friends, and all who had the pleasure of meeting him. But above all, his uncompromising faith in Jesus Christ defined who he was as a man. Norm was a model of a life renewed and spent his time, treasure and talents in the service of family, friends and strangers.
1934 saw the turning point in the Great Depression in America. Unemployment steadily declined while productivity and innovation boomed. As was typical of the times, Norm was born at home, June 6th to Harold and Mildred (Headley) Kohler in Augusta, Michigan. He was the second child joining older brother Clarence.
Norm lived a typical childhood of the times. Coming from a family who enjoyed the out of doors, he learned to skillfully hunt and fish from an early age. Being the second child of four, he was skilled at making his presence known and pulling a few pranks along the way. There are rumors of a cooling pie that went missing from the family windowsill. It’s said that while he may have tried his mother’s patience, there was no doubt he made her laugh with his antics. Norm always had a knack for the mechanical. He enjoyed working with his hands often taking things apart and putting them back together. As his projects became more complex, so did his skills.
Shortly after graduating with the Class of 1953 from Big Rapids High School, Norm was drafted into the United States Marine Corps. He later requested and received a transfer to the Army becoming a baker for the Military Police unit. Norm was immensely proud of his training and years of service in the armed forces. It is easy to see that the integrity that the military instilled was present throughout his life. He made and maintained lifelong friendships with those in his unit and whatever he set out to do it was always his personal best.
A double date would change the course of Norms life forever. Norm and Melva agreed to a double date with Melva’s neighbor and Norm’s friend from work. That night sparked a lasting bond between the two of them. As a young couple, they enjoyed dipping their feet in the local creek and taking romantic walks together. They married in 1958 and raised four children together. Drives just to explore, local swimming holes and annual fishing trip vacations were a regular occurrence. As kids reached the teenage years the family explored national parks and camping. Norm was a role model for his children demonstrating hard work, dependability, trustworthiness, self sacrifice as well as the ability to not take life too seriously. When Norm became a Christian, he also developed the virtue of profound gratitude. His faith forever changed his view of life and he never looked back or took a single day for granted after his commitment to Christ.
A strong provider, Norm worked as a mechanic for Cole Krum Chevrolet (Vicksburg location) for many years. After perfecting his skills and study, he later accepted a position as a forklift mechanic for General Motors. Anything mechanical was more than just his work, it also became his hobby and passion. He enjoyed fixing up cars, motorcycles, and even built his own camping trailer. He and Melva took the trailer on many of their memorable trips out west, though these trips didn’t always go exactly to plan. Once, driving down the highway with the trailer in tow, Norm suddenly noticed something passing their car in the lane next to them. To his astonishment, he watched as his trailer, which had become unhitched somehow, rolled by them on the side of the highway! Needless to say, there was never a dull moment on their trips together. Norm loved cars and that meant he also loved driving. For most of their travels, he was the driver taking them across the state or several parts of the U.S. In addition to cars, he also loved his motorcycles, and once he and Melva made a bike trip to Illinois. Melva wasn’t as fond of the bike trips as Norm. Always up for an adventure, Norm was never afraid of any stretch of road!
He and Melva lived a wonderful retirement together. They remained active in their Car Club where Norm was known to showcase many of his vintage cars over the years and the couple cemented several friendships at outings to the Gilmore Car Museum and other shows. They never missed an opportunity to visit Yankee Springs during the fall color season and reminisce about their first Christmas when they cut down their first tree there, which wasn’t exactly allowed! He also enjoyed worshiping the Lord with friends and family and the fellowship of walking in the annual Crop Walks raising funds for area food banks and other charities over the years. Steadfast in his faith, Sunday worship at Crossroads Missionary Church in Mendon was a staple in his life. Anyone who knew Norm trusted that he was always going to give generously of his time and resources to anyone in need. For relaxation, Norm loved heading up to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to enjoy hunting and fishing with his close friends and family. From time to time, he and Melva also packed their skis for several skiing trips out west. He loved being active and any amount of time he was outdoors, his heart was full.
Known for his compassion for others and his cheerful demeanor led Norm to many lasting memories and friendships over the years. He was always willing to lend a hand to a mechanical project and shared his love of tinkering with his kids and grandkids. His grandchildren will always remember him for his love of ice cream…and dogs…usually pairing the two together. He was known to care for his own dogs as well as his grandson's dog when he left for the Navy. Any dog was special to him and he loved to spoil them! Norm leaves behind a legacy of putting others first, serving his community, and enjoying all the riches in life. But most of all he leaves the example of a life changed by Christ. His special sense of humor, strength and wisdom will be deeply missed by all who knew and loved him.
Norman Kohler, age 87, of Vicksburg, Michigan died on February 11, 2022. Norm was preceded in death by his parents; brother, Clarence Kohler; and granddaughter, Alicia. Surviving are his wife of sixty-four years, Melva; children: Jan (Greg) Bierlein, Jim Kohler, Ruth (Dee) Kelly, and Michael Kohler; numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren; brother, Ron Kohler; sister, Donna Crouch; and many nieces and nephews.
Visitation will be held at 10 AM with funeral services at 11 AM on Thursday (FEB 17) at Crossroads Missionary Church, 22605 M60, Mendon. A luncheon will follow in the church hall. Burial at Fort Custer National Cemetery. While we appreciate everyone’s love and support during this time, we ask that if you are not feeling well or are showing signs of COVID, please attend in spirit. Visit Norm’s webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories, photos, and sign his guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to Crossroads Missionary Church. Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo 269-375-2900.