Life Story Service
Thursday, November 16, 2023
10:30 AM to 12:30 PM EST
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.
Rose Arbor Hospice
5473 Croyden Ave.
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Though he was a man of few words, Al Gest wore his heart on his sleeve and never hid his feelings for his family and friends. A great storyteller with a wonderful sense of humor, Al was happiest when surrounded by the family and friends he so cherished. He will be deeply missed but his legacy of loyal friendship and unconditional love for his family will live on in the hearts of all who knew him.
Al Gest was born during a time when drive-in theaters were all the rage, and Americans were able to purchase the first new vehicles manufactured since the beginning of WWII. Excitement was also in store for Glenn Lyle and Mary Jane (Porter) Gest as they welcomed their second child into their hearts and home on October 17, 1947. Al joined big sister Glenna in the family’s Kalamazoo home where Linda and Joni would later complete the family. Glenn Lyle worked as a truck driver, and Mary kept the household running smoothly. Throughout his childhood, Al’s family moved around frequently, including living in Florida and Arizona, where his early childhood bow-leggedness was corrected from climbing rocks in the desert. Eventually the family made their way back to Michigan. Al attended several area schools, including Kalamazoo Central, Portage, and Mattawan; where he would later put down his roots and make his lifelong home.
Al grew up during a time when kids played outdoors all day, came in to eat dinner and then went back out to play until the street lights or porch lights came on, signaling that it was time to call it a day. As was typical of the times, playing cowboys and Indians or playing with space toys were some of Al’s favorite childhood pastimes.
The desire to serve his country like his Grandfather, Father and Uncles before him was the motivating factor in Al’s decision to volunteer to join the army at 17. He proudly served during the Vietnam War; never looking back. After serving his country, the next important key moment in Al’s life occurred when he met a lovely young woman named Marjorie, through a mutual friend. Al was quite taken with Marjorie and Marjorie with him. In her eyes, Al was a handsome, worldly man with sparkling blue eyes. After getting to know one another, they realized that they were a great match and they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together. After dating for about a year, Al and Marjorie were happily married on October 31, 1969 at Zion Lutheran Church.
After spending a few years settling into married life, Al and Marjorie were thrilled to see their family grow with the addition of Tracey in 1972 and Travis in 1974. Al loved being a father and there was no shortage of fun or entertainment when he was around. When he worked for the cable company, he would take the kids and their friends up in the bucket truck! Needless to say, he was one of the “cool dads” in the eyes of the kids’ friends. In addition to being a fun-loving dad, Al was actively involved with his kids and were their biggest supporter regardless of their endeavors.
Throughout his life, Al was a jack of many trades, and preferred working outdoors. He worked different jobs, including building silos, being a milkman, a cable guy, and propane delivery man. In his spare time, Al enjoyed playing poker, listening to blues music, grilling a juicy steak and watching the Young and the Restless or Andy Griffith reruns on TV.
He and Marge liked to travel with dear friends and “Back Door Neighbors” Ron and Janie Grabovac. Together they enjoyed many Blues Festivals over the years, including Madison WI and Madison IN, Chicago, and closer to home in Downtown Kalamazoo. They also experienced the Bourbon Trail in Kentucky together, and these were some of the best times of his life.
George Dickel Bourbon was his bourbon of choice, but he also enjoyed trying new bourbons in his garage with his son Travis, son-in-law Pat, and Ron. It wasn’t just the experience but more the camaraderie with family and good friends that meant so much to him. Al was a loyal friend and some of his life-long friends, like Bob and Dale, were like brothers to him.
Nothing was more important to Al than family. Holidays and family get-togethers created some of Al’s most treasured memories. As much as he loved his own children, the best days of his life were undoubtedly the days his grandchildren were born. There is no love like a grandparent’s love and Al simply adored his four grandchildren, Kyle, Haley, Julian and Bennett. In his eyes, they could do no wrong.
Al Gest was a man of few words but as he said, “You don’t have to say a lot to make your point.” Actions speak louder than words. A kind man with a tender heart, Al was a steadfast presence in the lives of his friends and family. May we honor his memory each time we sip a good bourbon, enjoy time with dear friends and surround ourselves with family. A loving husband, father, grandfather, brother and friend, he will be dearly missed and lovingly remembered.
Alan Douglas Gest, age 76, of Mattawan, passed away peacefully; surrounded by his family, on Sunday, November 12, 2023 at Rose Arbor Hospice.
Members of his family include his devoted wife of 54 years, Marjorie; 2 children: Tracey (Pat) Hughes and Travis (Liz) Gest; 4 grandchildren: Kyle and Haley Hughes and Julian and Bennett Gest; 2 sisters: Linda (John) Kaiser, Joni (John) Frazier and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents Glenn Lyle and Mary Gest, and older sister Glenna, and her husband Ted Sells.
Cremation has taken place and Life Story services will be held at 10 am on Thursday, November 16 at Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900. A reception where food, drinks and stories will be shared will be held immediately following in the Life Story Center. Burial will be at Ft. Custer National Cemetery. Visit Al’s webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories, photos and sign his guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to Rose Arbor Hospice.