Life Story Visitation
Friday, January 12, 2024
5:00 PM to 7:00 PM EST
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Where food, drinks and stories will be shared.
Prayer Service & Celebration of Life
Visitation starting at 11 AM. A luncheon will take place at the Delta Hotel and Conference Center located at 2747 S 11th St Kalamazoo, MI 49009 immediately after Saturday’s events at Life Story.
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.
Michael J. Fox Foundation
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Wayne Wurtz, a man of extraordinary fortitude and resilience, passed away peacefully in his home on January 7, 2024, surrounded by the warmth and love of his devoted family. His journey, marked by courage in the face of Parkinson's Disease, was a testament to the strength of Wayne’s spirit. Born and raised in the tight-knit community of Saginaw, MI, Wayne’s life was an inspiring narrative of hard work, familial bonds, and a deep commitment to those he loved.
From a young age, Wayne exemplified a strong work ethic. At the tender age of 11, he undertook the responsibility of a paper route, delivering to over 100 customers. After school and under the cover of the night, he diligently collected payments, showcasing an early knack for organization and responsibility. Sunday evenings were reserved for following up with customers who hadn’t paid during the week. Wayne meticulously kept logbooks of his endeavors until he decided to part with them upon getting married, a testament to his detail-oriented nature.
Raised in a blue-collar neighborhood, Wayne was raised by his hardworking father Wesley, and beautiful mother Adelia. He was raised alongside his brother, Gary, and sisters Nancy and Sue. Unfortunately, Gary's life was tragically cut short at the age of 43 in a car accident, leaving Wayne with cherished memories of a deep and enduring brotherhood. Wayne immediately stepped up to become a father figure to Gary’s only son, David. Wayne also sadly lost his sister, Sue, at the age of 50, and his nephew, Jeff (Son of Nancy) much too soon.
In November of 1967, Wayne's life took a romantic turn when he crossed paths with Connie Luther. The spark of their relationship ignited at a popular bar where Connie, alongside her friend Kay, playfully bet 50 cents to stare at the next boy to walk to the bathroom. Wayne unwittingly became the subject of this game. This chance encounter led to a dance, a week later, their first date, and the beginning of a love story that would span over five decades.
Wayne, growing up Lutheran, converted to Catholicism for love, marrying Connie on November 16, 1968, at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Saginaw. Their honeymoon, a dreamy escapade to San Francisco and Hawaii, was a testament to Wayne's determination and frugality, as he saved every penny to make the trip a reality.
Throughout his life, Wayne demonstrated a commitment to self-improvement. He became the first in his family to attend college, earning an electrical engineering degree. His career at General Motors spanned over 40 years, where he started off working alongside his father, continuing a legacy of dedication to their craft. Wayne's commitment to education extended beyond his professional life as he later learned to teach skill trades at Delta College, a decision that enriched both his career and personal growth.
Financially prudent and secure, Wayne retired at the age of 60. He and Connie embraced the opportunity to explore the world, venturing as far as Australia. A serious and humble individual, Wayne's stories remained largely untold until prompted, revealing a spark of joy beneath his unassuming exterior. He possessed an open-minded and forgiving nature, appreciating people from all walks of life.
A father to three children – Steve, Amy, and Lisa – Wayne provided a stable and dependable home. Engaged in his children's lives, he never missed a game or event, fostering a loving and supportive environment. His wife, Connie, played an integral role in their family, balancing her role as a part-time RN with full-time care for their children and home.
On the flip side of Wayne Wurtz's composed and practical demeanor was a vibrant and fun-loving personality that would light up any gathering. When it came to celebrations, Wayne knew how to let loose and truly party. His infectious energy would take center stage on the dance floor, where he would effortlessly unleash the "alligator," a move that became legendary among family and friends. Wayne's practical side seamlessly merged with his fun-loving nature, creating a unique blend of responsibility and spontaneity. Not just a spectator, he was an adept bartender, always equipped with his trusty cooler filled with the essentials for mixing a perfect Long Island Iced Tea. Whether it was at tailgates, rehearsal dinners, or any occasion calling for merriment, Wayne's ability to balance practicality with a zest for life left an indelible mark, making him the heart and soul of any festive gathering.
Wayne also held a pilot's license, a passion he relinquished upon dating Connie due to the cost of flying. Wayne would however splurge when the timing was right. As a long-time lover of Detroit Muscle cars, he fulfilled a dream by taking advantage of his GM discount and buying a red 1967 Camaro to impress Connie. In 1978 he repeated this maneuver to impress his son, Steve, by convincing him that they were going to pick up their new Chevrolet Citation, only to drive away from the dealership in an electric blue 1978 Chevrolet Z28 Camaro.
In the face of Parkinson's, Wayne exhibited tremendous courage. Diagnosed 11 years ago, he faced increasing rigidity with grace. Never one to complain, Wayne allowed his family to help care for him as the disease progressed, embodying the qualities of patience and resilience. He was never denied a cup of coffee and a hug. His mind remained sharp, and he continued to surprise everyone with his witty comments, and he remained a master euchre player.
Wayne's final days were spent at home, surrounded by the love of his family. Despite the progression of his disease in the last few months, Wayne gave his family a final gift by gathering them around for heartfelt goodbyes. Music filled the air, while his grandchildren, the apple of his eye, were a constant presence by his side. Wayne’s sister and family, his nephew, and family were also there to show their love. Wayne passed away peacefully, expressing gratitude and appreciation for his family, showcasing to the end the true meaning of love and resilience.
A hero to his family, Wayne's legacy will live on through the values of patience, love, and enduring commitment. He is survived by his loving wife, Connie; three children: Steve (Liz), Amy (Greg), Lisa (Brian), and their families, including grandchildren: Jake, Connor, Evan, Will, Sam, Hayden, and Bryce. Wayne also leaves behind his sister, Nancy; and brother-in-law, Tom Lake, along with many nieces and nephews. Preceded in death by siblings, Gary Wurtz and Susan Wurtz, Wayne's memory will be forever cherished by those who had the privilege of knowing him.
Wayne Wurtz will be remembered not only as a loving husband, father, and grandfather but also as an inspiration to all who were touched by his kindness, resilience, and unwavering support.
As we mourn the loss of Wayne, let us celebrate his life by incorporating these timeless values into our own families. By fostering trust, embracing simplicity, and practicing humility, we can honor Wayne's legacy and create a lasting impact that transcends generations. May Wayne's life lessons continue to inspire us, guiding our families toward a future filled with love, resilience, and enduring connections. Please join us in helping celebrate Wayne’s life Friday (JAN 12) from 5 PM to 7 PM where food, drinks, and stories will be shared at Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900. A Prayer Service will be held Saturday (JAN 13) at Noon followed by a celebration of life through stories and videos. A visitation is scheduled one hour prior starting at 11 AM. A luncheon will take place at the Delta Hotel and Conference Center located at 2747 S 11th St Kalamazoo, MI 49009 immediately after Saturday’s events at Life Story. Visit Wayne’s webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to share stories that reflect the impact Wayne had on your life, upload photos, and sign his guestbook. Memorials may be made to the Michael J. Fox Parkinson's Foundation.