Life Story Visitation
Thursday, June 22, 2023
5:00 PM to 7:00 PM EDT
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Where food, drinks and stories will be shared.
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.
SPCA of Southwest Michigan
Michigan Nature Conservancy
Animals Best Friend
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Bob was born in Chicago, and by second grade he had moved to Gillespie, Illinois to live with his grandparents. His move back to his parents in Gary, Indiana was a rude awakening. Bob showed up in bib overalls for his first day in a new school. The inner city kids beat him often, and from then on Bob knew he had to fight to get by. He joined the Chicago Youth Boxing Club where he gained confidence and found a healthy outlet for his anger and frustration. He also began playing basketball, which helped him stay out of trouble.
Bob scrimmaged with the Chicago Bears and had hopes to join the team. However, he broke his back and was in a cast for nine months. His hopes of beginning a career with the Bears was over, but not his love for the team. He eventually earned a scholarship in basketball to WMU, and it was in Kalamazoo that he met his first wife Maria. They were married in 1963 and started a family shortly afterwards, beginning with Rob, then Mark, then Tamara. Bob was in the Navy reserves while working toward his degree. His marriage to Maria ended in 1977.
Bob earned his Masters in Educational Leadership with 85 credits towards his PhD. He minored in history and political science. Bob became a Certified Safety Executive through the World Safety Organization. He had his first opportunity to use his certification as the Assistant to the Kalamazoo City Manager where he was responsible for the Kalamazoo Emergency Management Program. Bob was then offered a position with Michigan Technical University in the Dept. of Public Services. His responsibilities included teaching emergency management and public officials shelter management instruction courses as well as Radiological Monitoring. He then worked as the Emergency Preparedness Consultant for the Michigan Dept. of Education. Bob decided to form his own business, Great Lakes Educational Consultants, Inc. His clients included General Motors Proving Grounds, the Country of Belize in Central America, and Consultant to the Country of Panama. He also developed safety and security plans for over 120 school districts and 30 higher educational institutions in the Midwest. Much of Bob’s work was through word of mouth, and he was last contacted for services in November 2022, only months before he passed.
Although Bob excelled in the work of Emergency Management, he balanced that out with crazy and sometimes outrageous fun with his family and friends, and Bob loved a good prank. His children fondly remember his antics and sharp wit, and how much he enjoyed playing tricks on them. Bob didn’t tire of the fun as an adult, and was drawn to friends that felt the same. One time he shaved off half of his buddy’s mustache when he was sleeping. He posted fake lottery numbers so his friend thought he had won. Bob didn’t confess until after his friend had bought the bar a round with his “winnings”. One time while staying at a hotel in Northern Michigan, he and a friend caught baby ducks swimming in a pond and left them in the bathtub when they checked out. Bob hated bugs (especially moths) and his friends sabotaged his room frequently, so he retaliated with firecrackers when his friends least expected it. Bob once bet his friends he could tell what time the sun would set, and won because he had the times in the paper that day.
Bob enjoyed spending time at the beach with his friends and family. One of his son’s favorite memories is spending the day at the beach, and then watching Bob play fast pitch softball. Bob also loved to run, and completed many races. He was a life member of the YMCA, and followed research about the best ways to stay healthy. He followed the Chicago White Sox, Notre Dame, the WMU Broncos, and of course, “Da Bears”. In 1985 Bob was on top of the world all season as the Bears went on to win the Super Bowl.
Bob met his wife Carmen in 1987, and they were married in 1995. The two seemed to have fun wherever they went, and were usually together. Bob converted Carmen to a Bears fan, and they ended up with Bears season tickets. They both loved jazz, Chicago dogs, and the wonderful variety of ethnic restaurants in Chicago. When you added in a Bears game, this was one of their favorite ways to spend the weekends. Bob enjoyed boating and fishing, and though he no longer had a boat, he and Carmen spent many weekends at Saugatuck and South Haven.
Many of Bob’s friends were either members of the VFW, team mates from fast-pitch softball, or fellow WMU alumni. Over time time they became Carmen’s friends as well, and for years they all made annual trips together. In the summer they traveled to various spots in Northern Michigan, and in the winter they headed to Florida.
Bob enjoyed horse racing, politics and nature. He also loved animals and regularly contributed to over 12 organizations. Bob had dogs when young, but grew to love cats. Sadly, one of his favorites passed away 3 days after Bob. Bob spent many hours completing crossword puzzles and was working on a New York Times crossword the week before he died. Bob was intelligent, funny, and stuck to his beliefs. He was well educated, developed strong opinions, and was quick to share the facts to back them up. May we honor his life with each practical joke we play, sports team we cheer on, or when we appreciate the lake or day spent in nature.
Age 86, Bob died June 18, 2023, in Kalamazoo. Bob was born February 3, 1937, in Chicago, IL, the son of Frank and Margaret (Meinecke) Jonaitis. Growing up in Chicago, Bob became a life-long Bears fan. He graduated from WMU with a master’s degree in educational leadership where he played basketball and softball. Bob also played baseball in the city league. Bob was assistant city manager for the City of Kalamazoo then started his own company, Great Lakes Educational Consultants. He was preceded in death by his son, Robert Frank Jonaitis, Jr. Members of his family include his wife, Carmen Jonaitis and 2 children: Mark Jonaitis and Tamara (Gus) Xamplas. Cremation will take place. Please join us at a Life Story Visitation where food, drinks, and stories will be shared on Thursday (JUNE 22) from 5-7 PM at Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900 where a Celebration Toast will be shared at 6PM. Visit Bob’s webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories, photos, and sign his guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to SPCA of Southwest Michigan, Michigan Nature Conservancy or Animals Best Friends.