LIFE STORY VISITATION
LIFE STORY SERVICE
A reception will follow in the Life Story Center.
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.
Oakwood Neighborhood Community Center
3320 Laird Ave.
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
With a warm smile and a kind heart, Patricia "Pat" Henry lived a life rich in family and friends. Once you met her, you had a friend for life, no matter who you were, or how you came across her path. She loved nature, her living room window was her “TV” where she was fortunate enough to spend her last days. Her love for nature could be seen inside and outside her home with her plants and flowers. Pat greeted each day as a gift to be shared with the ones she saw that day. An inspiration to all who knew her, Pat will long be remembered and dearly missed.
Pat always reminded us that 1928 was the year she and Mickey Mouse were born, always adding she was older by three months.1928 continued to ride the decade's roaring wave of peace, prosperity, and hope. She often raved of sharing the same birth year as Mickey Mouse. As the wave of sweeping social and economic growth rapidly increased, so did the beginning of Thurlo and Marguerite ‘s family with Patricia being the first born of 8 children. Growing up in a large family in the Oakwood neighborhood, Pat learned at an early age how to be resourceful and not wasteful. She enjoyed strong family ties and rich traditions, including the strawberry shortcake her mother made for her birthday each year with special strawberries she saved at the end of the season.
As a young girl, Pat caught the eye of a neighbor boy, Bill Henry, who was instantly smitten. He quickly figured out that by taking an alternative route to school, he could be near her. His efforts proved worthwhile, for, in time, Pat found herself smitten with him, too! Though she attended State High and had thoughts of becoming a doctor, the path she chose was family and marriage to Bill. From that point on, Bill always referred to her as “Doc.”
Pat and Bill married on January 24,1948. Nine months later, along came Tom. After two miscarriages, adoption became the option they chose and several years later, Janet was brought home in June of 1957. Now, their family was complete!
They began building their first house on property given to Bill from his parents across the bridge in the back of Oakwood. They were frugal and committed to only paying cash for purchases. Pat found a variety of ways to save and earn extra money, such as hand-sewing clothes and making wedding cakes. Her tradition of making homemade peanut brittle and selling it to family, friends, and neighbors was legendary. One year she made a thousand pounds of peanut brittle! Over their 69 and half years of marriage, they never had a house or car payment.
Creating strong family bonds was always important to Pat and grew even more so over the years as the generations continued to grow. Their home was a gathering place where holidays were celebrated, leaf raking parties were hosted, or a quick visit with a piece of candy out of the dish and a little conversation. “Home” was a feeling she created, and we all felt it as soon as we walked through the door.
Tom and Janet, and cousins Dave and Sandy next door, as well as their friends from the neighborhood played in the creek just as Pat and Bill had in their youth. Family vacations consisted of getting in the family car and heading out for a two-week camping trip somewhere in northern Michigan or out west. In 1967, Pat and Bill purchased property in Bear Lake, Michigan. They later added a basement then eventually an A frame cabin on top of that, which is known today as the Family Cabin. Many generations have enjoyed and will continue to enjoy this property as she intended.
Pat was a fabulous hostess. She enjoyed cooking and baking for others, and everyone enjoyed her meals. For all who were lucky to indulge in them, her homemade donuts, pecan pie, and banana pudding were some favorites.
Later in life, after their kids were grown, Pat and Bill continued to enjoy time at their cabin, as well as traveling farther from home. They made yearly trips to Hawaii, explored the East Coast and Canada, and vacationed in the Caribbean. While Bill was content to sit on the beach with a beer in his hand, Pat rarely sat still and was always up for an adventure. She floated down the river, parasailed, swam with the dolphins, and collected a small bottle of sand from each beach she visited to add to her collection.
Though they sold their original home and briefly moved to Parkview Hills, Pat and Bill found themselves longing for their Oakwood neighborhood and eventually moved back. Driven by their love for the neighborhood, Pat and Bill worked diligently to preserve the history of the Oakwood Neighborhood. In 1999, Pat Published her book, The History of Oakwood: A Community of Kalamazoo, Michigan. In 2022, she was proud to receive the Historic Preservation Award of Merit from the Kalamazoo Historic Preservation Commission in honor of all her hard work, ensuring the magic of her treasured neighborhood would be remembered for years and years to come.
For 20 years, she and Bill wintered in Texas at the same park her parents and a brother had also wintered. Much like at their home in Michigan, they enjoyed a great circle of friends at their winter home. Pat enjoyed playing card games, dancing, and frequent trips to Mexico with her friends. When family visited, there was always a well-laid-out plan of what they would do during their visit. Everyone was on the move, and one usually needed a vacation to rest up after visiting.
Pat was content with the simple things in life. She loved the sand and water and was most comfortable in her swimsuit and bare feet. She loved being outdoors, in the sun, and tending her garden was never work. She enjoyed bird watching and could identify all kinds of feathered friends. She relished finding things in nature and turning them into art. Though she did not like to watch TV, she would constantly be reading, either a book or on her iPad. She never let her age get in the way of learning and enjoying technology. She was quite tech-savvy and liked being able to stay in touch and play games on her iPad, including checking out Facebook and playing card games.
For those who were lucky to spend time with Pat, it was abundantly clear that her greatest joy was her family. She bonded with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren with spur-of-the-moment stops for ice cream, morel hunting, and celebrating special events. A powerful role model for how to live a wholehearted life, Pat found the beauty in every moment. It is this beautiful legacy that those she so dearly loved will proudly carry forward in celebration of the many ways Pat gifted the world and our lives.
Pat Henry died on Sunday, October 23, 2022, with her family by her side. She was preceded in death by her husband, Bill, in 2017; her son, Tom Henry, in 2010; and two infant children: Janice and Michael; daughter-in-law Dee Chriscoe in 2021. She is survived by daughter Janet (Pete) Keinath; daughter-in-law Karen Henry; grandchildren: Michelle (Ron) Geer, Nicole (Mike) Galiger, and Alan (Marianne) Reitler; great-grandchildren: Brandon (Nicole) Nuyen, Courtney (Chance) Nuyen, Jacob, Justin, and Ethan Galiger; Cheyenne and Brianna Chesser, Hayden "Toots" Reitler, and Lee (Wendy) Geer; great-great-grandchildren: Kayden and Carter Cook, Tanner Nuyen; sisters: Bonnie Frye and Barbara Shand; several nieces and nephews.
Burial will be in Riverside Cemetery. Please join us at a Life Story Visitation where stories will be shared on Thursday (Oct 27) from 5-7 PM at Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900. Life Story Services will be held at the same location at 11 am on Friday (Oct 28). A lunch in the Life Story Center will follow the service. Visit Pat's webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories and photos and sign her guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to the Oakwood Neighborhood Community Center or Centrica Care Navigators (Hospice). Please visit Pat's personal web page at www.BetzlerFuneralHome.com, where you can archive a favorite memory or photo of her and sign her online guestbook.