Life Story Visitation
Friday, March 11, 2022
5:00 PM to 8:00 PM EST
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Food, drinks and stories will be shared.
Life Story Service
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.
Alzheimer's Association, Great Lakes Chapter
Milestone Senior Services
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
A kind, gentle, and loyal man, Ronald Lee Larabee lived a life rich in family and friends. Easily contented and always humble, Ron was a family man whose greatest joy came from ensuring the good care of those he loved. A devoted husband, father, and grandfather, Ron was an inspiration to all who were blessed to know him. Cherished by many, he will long be remembered and so very missed.
The year 1939 held much to celebrate, including the end of the Great Depression, the premieres of the classic films Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz, regular television began to broadcast nationwide, The World's Fair was in New York, and Ron Larabee was welcomed to the world on April 23 in Kalamazoo, MI.
Ron grew up as an only child and attended local public schools. He proudly graduated with the Kalamazoo Central High School class of 1957. At the age of 22, while bowling at a local alley, Ron had the good fortune of meeting his future wife, 18-year-old Joyce Mizeur. Smitten with each other, Ron asked Joyce for a date, and the two were soon a couple. With their hearts set on sharing the future, they married on March 23, 1963, at St. Augustine Cathedral in Kalamazoo. Following their wedding celebration, the newlyweds traveled to Niagara Falls for their honeymoon.
The happy couple first settled into an apartment and then rented a few houses before building their first home on Magnolia Street. There, they raised their three daughters, Julie, Michelle, and Suzanne. Ron's family was his heart's delight, and he took much pride in providing a loving and lovely home. He loved tending to his beautiful yard and was a patient and supportive father. Ron and Joyce had traditional roles for the times. Joyce was a stay-at-home parent, and Ron held the disciplinary responsibilities. Ron was proud of his girls and good-naturedly ran them to all their activities. He was a patient teacher, which was great for teaching the girls to play games and helping them with their homework. And, he never hesitated to lend a hand in caring for the house.
The family enjoyed many special traditions, including yearly trips to Cedar Point, where Ron enjoyed riding the rides with his girls. Sunday nights, they would visit Joyce’s parents where the adults would play cards and the girls would watch Walt Disney. Every Valentine's Day morning began with Ron giving all of his girls a heart-felt card and heart-shaped box of chocolates. On Christmas Eve, the girls excitedly opened one of their gifts; pajamas to wear on Christmas morning. Ron and Joyce also made a point of having date nights. They would often go out for dinner with friends and then play cards at one of their houses.
Ron’s work career was in the grocery business. After several department and management positions, he settled as the produce manager at Harding’s Market, which became D&W, on the corner of Whites Road and Oakland Drive. Known for his patience and dedication, Ron was very good at his job as the produce manager. One of his many side jobs was mopping floors at Harding's Market on Sunday mornings. When the girls were young teens, they helped him by following the machine he used with a stick mop to eliminate any streaks. Ron was always meticulous in his work! The girls enjoyed their one-on-one time with their dad and appreciated the generous pay (and bonus Hawaiian Punch) Ron would give them for helping.
A man who enjoyed the simple things in life, like watching Little House on the Prairie with his wife and daughters, Ron was a contented man. He enjoyed watching boxing, was an avid reader of the Kalamazoo Gazette, and enjoyed “jamming out” with his big speakers in the living room to his favorite ELO, Boston, and Kansas songs. While Ron enjoyed loud music, he also enjoyed his quiet time. For relaxation, Ron would take drives either to the airport to watch planes take off and land, or he’d cruise by fire stations, hoping to catch a glimpse of a firetruck in action. Ron and Joyce both loved antiquing. They liked finding treasures, cleaning them up, and then selling them at their booth they rented in Allen, MI. They also enjoyed family picnics at Milham Park and any type of family gathering with his kids and grandkids. Last summer, Ron fulfilled a major bucket list dream when he bought a 30-foot yellow Pierce 1991 pumper truck firetruck. Ron would be seen driving it around his neighborhood and the highlight was having it in the 2021 Kalamazoo Holiday Parade.
As Ron aged, he also softened. He came to enjoy talking on the phone with his daughters and baking them cakes and his specialty, banana bread. He became quite the cook and chef in his later years! After retiring from D&W, he drove cars for DeNooyer Chevrolet to make a little extra spending money. He liked having the time to drive and think. Fondly known as both Grandpa and PaPa, he was a proud and loving grandfather. Always eager to entertain his grandkids, he took them for tractor rides around the yard, watched movies, and supported them in every way.
Ron had always been a great provider for his family and in his final years, he became a great caregiver for Joyce. With unwavering devotion, he always ensured that she was comfortable, safe, and enveloped in love. Despite life's challenges, Ron welcomed each day as a gift and kept his sense of humor to the end.
Without a doubt, life feels less certain in the absence of Ron's steadfast love and kindness. May we find comfort in knowing that he is at peace and in the honor of carrying his legacy forward. In each moment that we patiently support a loved one, bake a special treat, go out to eat with our beloved, or enjoy a quiet drive, we celebrate the many ways Ron gifted us. In this way, we keep his spirit alive and inspiring others as he so inspired each of us.
Ronald Lee Larabee, of Kalamazoo, age 82, died Thursday, March 3, 2022, at Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo. Surviving are his wife of 59 years, Joyce Larabee; three daughters: Julie McNee (Mike McNee); Michelle (Pete) Eldridge, and Suzanne Larabee; and four grandchildren: Kaitlyn and Jared McNee and Alex and Mitchell Eldridge. Please join us at a Life Story Visitation where food, drinks, and stories will be shared on Friday (MAR 11) from 5-8 PM at Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo, MI 49009 (269) 375-2900. Services will be held Saturday (MAR 12) at 10 AM at the same location. Private burial will follow at Mt. Ever Rest Cemetery. Visit Ron's webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories or photos and sign his guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to Senior Services of Southwest Michigan or Alzheimer's Association, Great Lakes Chapter.