Sunday, July 29, 2018
3:00 PM to 5:00 PM EDT
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Food and refreshments will be served.
Monday, July 30, 2018
11:30 AM EDT
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Burial will follow at 1:30 PM in Ft. Custer National Cemetery.
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.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Bob Appelgren was a loving example for all who knew and loved him. He gave so much of himself over the years and found great solace in tending to his meticulous yard. Anytime he was outdoors, he was content. Generous beyond measure, he wanted nothing more in life than happiness for his family. There simply wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do for each and every one of them! A wonderful husband, father, and grandfather, he leaves behind a wonderful collection of memories that will forever be treasured for generations to come.
So much of America’s history was characterized by the year 1941. Franklin D. Roosevelt was leading the United States into unprecedented times. Robert arrived just one week after the bombing by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor on December 14, 1941, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The son of John and Leona Appelgren (Felzer), his birth brought his parents great joy and promise during an era of great change.
Growing up in the Milwood neighborhood alongside his twin brothers who were more than twelve years his senior, his childhood was never without adventure! His father owned a local cigar store on Portage Road and as a young adolescent, Bob loved to assist with customers and stock shelves at the store. His mother worked as a homemaker which was typical of the times, ensuring that he and his brothers had the best of care. As a teenager, he had his fair share of trouble hanging with close friends and cruisin’ the streets. Graduating from Gull Lake High School Bob didn’t waste any time securing a position with the Sutherland Paper Company in order to make his way in the world. He was well-liked by his co-workers and enjoyed playing baseball on the company team during the hot summer months. It was here that he met his future wife, Bobbie, who was the sweet sister of his friend and co-worker, Pat. His heart was stirred when she agreed to join him for an evening at the movies and the rest was history!
Eager to spend the rest of their lives together, they joined in marriage on April 4th, 1964. Just two years into their newlywed phase, Bob was drafted into the United States Army during the Vietnam War. He was stationed in El Paso, Texas as well as Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam before later being moved to the DMZ or demilitarized zone. During his time overseas, he was more nervous about being in the boat and being shot at because he couldn’t jump out and swim! His older brothers had put great fear in him in his younger days by throwing him into a lake in order to teach him how to swim. Their attempts failed miserably as Bob was always fearful of the open water. He was extremely proud of his military service however and never took for granted all that he learned during those years.
After being discharged, the happy couple purchased their first home together in the Millwood neighborhood. They made many great memories there raising a family. Later on their son, Mark built them a three car garage with a loft. Little did he know what a mistake that would be as Bob had a hard time parting with things and would pack them neatly into the loft. When it came time to move, he had enough items to fill the dumpster they had rented!
Looking to get back to work after the service, Bob decided to apply at the Post Office just down the road! Once accepted, he spent a forty year career just two blocks walking distance from their home! Bob built up many friendships during these years from customers to furry friends! Everyone knew him as “Bob the Mailman” and he was never without dog treats. Content with his regular routine, he enjoyed those years on his route knowing it provided he and Bobbie and their children a stable living. When he returned home each day, he enjoyed working in the yard. In the winters, he snow-blowed the driveway paying careful attention to never leave any tire marks behind. In the summers he took great pride in making his home and yard look tidy. His only nemesis was the cherry tree in the backyard! Each season the cherries would drop endlessly into the white landscape rocks making it nearly impossible to keep the area cleaned up! As a father, he was encouraging and supportive. He coached his sons’ AYSO soccer teams and attended each important event in his children’s lives. As a family, they enjoyed numerous trips to both Cedar Point and Great America. They also loved to tour Mackinac Island. No trip was without its own great story or memory!
Bob was not much for travel however as he felt his years in Vietnam were enough flying to last a lifetime! Instead, he and Bobbie liked to take shorter distance road trips. One such memorable trip was to Indianapolis for the time trials! They were joined by Bob’s brother John and his wife Rosemary who always made it a point to discuss getting great gas mileage. While stopping off at each rest stop, they’d crack open fresh beers, everyone except for Bobbie. Such spirited adventure wore the others out, so Bobbie took the wheel and before anyone knew it she had gotten lost! When everyone began to wake up from napping they found they were far from their destination however they had gotten great gas mileage!
After retirement, Bob and Bobbie enjoyed playing cards and entertaining. They often hosted Bobbie’s sister and brother-in-law and were known to play well into the evening only taking a short break for dinner! The family used to joke about what Bob would do in his retirement years. Knowing that he was quite a talker they’d often tease that if he were a grocery store greeter, no one would get their shopping done as they’d be stuck at the door gabbing! His retirement time, however, seemed to fill up quickly with sharing time with his grandchildren. He enjoyed immensely every chance he had to cheer them on from the sidelines or attend their special celebrations. Nothing brought him greater joy than being around his family. Bob lived his life to the fullest. His unconditional love, supportive nature, and gentle wisdom will be deeply missed and fondly remembered by his many special friends and loved ones.
Bob Appelgren, age 76, died peacefully on July 24, 2018, at his home. Bob was preceded in death by his parents and his brother, John. Surviving are his wife of 54 years, Bobbie; 3 children: Theresa LaFlamme, Scott (Lola) Appelgren, Mark (Mary) Appelgren; 8 grandchildren: Jeremi & Amanda LaFlamme, Tyler, Josh and Madison Appelgren, Luke, Jack and Damian Appelgren; 1 brother: Jack (Judy) Appelgren; 1 sister-in-law: Rosemary Appelgren; Bobbie’s sister Sue (Pat) Janssen; and many nieces and nephews. Cremation will take place. Visit with family and friends while sharing food and refreshments on Sunday from 3PM-5PM at Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Dr. Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900 where services will be held Monday at 11:30 AM with burial following at Ft. Custer National Cemetery. Please visit Bob’s personal web page at www.BetzlerFuneralHome.com, where you can archive a favorite memory or photo and sign his online guestbook before coming to the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made to St. Joseph Catholic Church.