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.
Kelli Jo Termaat
Contributions can be sent to Kelli Jo Termaat through Betzler Life Story Funeral Home: 6080 Stadium Dr. Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Generous and kind, Ross Termaat lived a life rich in family and friends. Regardless of life’s trials and tribulations, Ross rooted himself in an unwavering love for his family. Ross knew no stranger and never hesitated to extend a warm welcome or lend a hand to a person in need. Without a doubt, our days with him were far too few, and the positive impact of his life will long inspire those who were blessed to know him. Cherished husband, son, brother, uncle, and friend, Ross’ bright light will continue to shine in the hearts of those he so deeply loved.
1978 proved a year of exciting firsts! As Japanese explorer Naomi Uemura became the first person to reach the North Pole in a solo expedition, closer to home, NASA unveiled the nation’s first group of women astronauts. The first Garfield comic strip debuts in US newspapers and Illinois Bell Company introduced the first-ever Cellular Mobile Phone System. At the same time, families gathered around the television to watch The Muppet Show, Happy Days, and The Love Boat, while Grease, Saturday Night Fever, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind dominated movie theaters worldwide. It seems fitting that during this time of exciting firsts, Michael and Gabrielle Termaat welcomed their son, Ross, into their family on August 4. Fifteen days overdue, Ross’ mother went into labor while shopping and waiting patiently for his arrival. At 9:15 PM, at Butterworth Hospital, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, It proved to be one of the happiest days of his parents’ lives.
A happy and funny child, Ross gave his family quite a fright when he came down with a severe case of the flu at just 18 months of age. His parents kept him company night and day during his hospital stay. Their company and the comforts of his favorite stuffed animals Funny Bunny, Flop Flop, and his little red dog, Fu Fu, helped him weather the storm and gradually heal. Never one to be still for long, Ross seemed to always be in constant motion, eager to explore everything the world had to offer.
Ross briefly began his schooling at Spring Lake Schools. He began attending Kalamazoo Schools in first grade, then Portage Community Education Center and going on to an Associates degree at Kalamazoo Valley Community College. Ross had many interests, including tee ball, camping, and skiing and ski boarding. An active member of Boy Scouts, Ross especially enjoyed camping with his troop and his Scout Master Bill Miller. As a teen, Ross enjoyed winter skiing.
During his youth, Ross learned the game of chess from his mother. She taught him to play the game by not letting him win. In time, his skills and passion for the game grew, and he not only handily beat her, but one day found a calling to teach chess in an after-school program. When his grandfather passed away, Ross inherited his grandfather’s chess set. Acknowledging their connection and love for the game, a young adult Ross placed one of the pieces in his grandfather’s hands. When Ross was eight it was customary for each family member to select music to be played at dinner in turn. His dad mostly chose Vivaldi, to which Ross responded with an exasperated, “Vivaldi, Vivaldi! Why always Vivaldi?” Little did they know that one day, Ross would insist on Vivaldi being played at his wedding. Ross loved music!
An active member of AA, Ross received not only the priceless gift of sobriety but also the gift of a sacred relationship. While attending an AA meeting, Ross was immediately captivated by a first-time attendee, Kelli Jo Cody. Though she thought he was cute, she soon found she could not resist Ross’ efforts to chase after her. Their first date was coffee at Water Street Coffee Joint followed by a second date to a Griffins hockey game. They immediately enjoyed each other’s company and found much happiness just being together. The happy couple married and created a wonderful life together. Ross was a fabulous cook, who enjoyed showering his loved ones with his carefully created meals. He savored the challenge of finding new ways to improve everything he made. Once, while he and Kelli Jo were still dating, her mother asked Kelli Jo, “What are you doing while he is cooking? Doing your nails?” Ross relished in cooking favorite meals for birthdays. He made his grandmother chocolate mousse every year and recently an Indian dish for Kelli Jo on their special shared birthday celebration.
Ross and Kelli shared wonderful traditions, including celebrating a joint birthday party and getting out of town to watch the Perseid meteor shower every August. The first Sunday of December was always dedicated to continuing the tradition Ross grew up with of cutting the Christmas tree. Kelli made an ornament from the bottom cut of each year’s tree. In time, they knew they would accumulate many of them; they worried their tree would fall down. A huge Sci-Fi fan, Ross inspired Kelli to share his obsession with Star Wars. He was also a life-long reader and an avid researcher of information. Kelli often shared that Ross was “like a walking encyclopedia.” And served as her personal "Google Search Engine”.
A heart-centered man, Ross would do anything to help anyone. He was proud of his family’s history, especially his Opa and Oma Termaat’s efforts to save Jewish people during World War II. He did his best to carry on the tradition of serving others in any way he could. He worked as a counselor at Sherman Lake, where his mother’s friend, Elaine Biscupic the camp director, often assigned him the most challenging campers. She recognized Ross’ gift for using his own struggles to deeply connect with others who were also struggling. Ross also participated in Big Brothers Big Sisters, lovingly mentoring a little brother. It was not unusual to witness Ross extending himself to strangers. Once, while eating at Subway, he invited a young man who appeared homeless to join him for a meal.
Clearly, Ross’ sudden absence has us feeling stunned. It is difficult to imagine life without his companionship, generosity, and good care. We will celebrate the many ways Ross touched our lives. And in so doing, we will continue to keep his spirit alive.
Ross Termaat, Age 42, of Schoolcraft, died Friday, October 9, 2020 at Bronson Methodist Hospital at 2:05 AM. His death was able to bring life to others through the Gift of Life Program. Ross was born August 4, 1978 in Grand Rapids to Michael and Gabrielle Termaat. Ross graduated from Portage Community Education Center and earned an Associate's Degree from Kalamazoo Valley Community College. He was preceded in death by his uncle John Battles; his Opa and Oma: Peter Nicholas Termaat and Adrianna Barbara Termaat; and grandpa Roy Everett Battles. Surviving are his wife Kelli Jo; his parents Michael and Gabrielle Termaat; his sister Dominique Termaat; his nieces Lauren and Jenna Whittle; nephew Liam Beeching; his granny Betty Battles and his great friends and brothers Michael Collick, Timothy Larson, Eric Lutke, and Ben Ridderboss. Cremation has taken place. Visit with family and friends Saturday (OCT 17) from 4-6 PM at Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Dr., Kalamazoo, 269-375-2900. Visit Ross’s personal webpage at www.BetzlerLifeStory.com where you may read his Life Story, archive a favorite memory or photo, and sign his online guestbook. Memorial contributions can be made to Kelli Jo Termaat.