LIFE STORY VISITATION
Monday, May 29, 2023
4:00 PM to 7:00 PM EDT
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Where food, drinks, and stories will be shared.
CELEBRATION OF LIFE SERVICE
Tuesday, May 30, 2023
1:00 PM EDT
Agape Christian Church
609 Cherokee St.
Kalamazoo, MI 49006
The family will receive friends one hour before the service at church.
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.
Agape Christian Church
609 Cherokee St.
Kalamazoo, MI 49006
The Tabernacle Church
4141 DeSoto Road
Sarasota, FL 34235
Kalamazoo Youth For Christ
2529 East Main Street
Kalamazoo, MI 49048
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Generous, kind, and gracious, Bob Walton lived a life rich in faith, family, and friends. Bob embodied the principles of his faith; he was loyal and true, loving and accepting, trusting and committed. With an unwavering commitment to living in the Lord, Bob welcomed each day as a gift and each person as his neighbor. A true living testimony of Jesus Christ, Bob lived his faith and was able to share it with others, proving a powerful role model for those who were blessed to know him. A devoted husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and friend, Bob will long be remembered and so very missed.
In Freeport, Michigan, Claude and Cora Walton welcomed their son, Robert Leslie, into their hearts and home on January 1, 1931. Growing up with three siblings, Bob’s early years proved a firm foundation for the rest of his life. Bob’s mother, born in the Netherlands, was a strong Christian woman who greatly influenced his spiritual life. His father was a hard-working man who started a bicycle shop and later owned a full-service garage and gas station. He taught Bob the value of a job well done. Both of his parents taught him honesty and integrity, traits he was proud to carry throughout his life.
Bob attended Freeport High School, where he played four years of baseball. Baseball, and later softball, became a passion for Bob as it was a game that he loved to play until he was 90 years old. He only retired from playing because of his failing eyesight. An excellent student, Bob was the president of his class graduating 75 years ago, second in the class of 1948.
After high school, Bob enrolled at Western Michigan College of Education (Western Michigan University). With his mother’s encouragement, he began his studies to be a doctor. Early in his studies, Bob realized that graduating from a small school, without lab equipment or lab experience had not prepared him for college-required science courses. He switched his major to business and excelled in that field. Bob became one of the first people from Western Michigan University to receive a Master of Business Administration degree. The love of and importance of learning helped shape his children’s and grandchildren’s view of the importance of education.
Bob was drafted into the military in 1953 after graduating from college. He began his military career at Fort Custer, near Battle Creek, Michigan. While there, Carolyn came over to celebrate their first anniversary. Bob did additional infantry training at Fort Breckenridge, Kentucky. He then went to Fort Riley, Kansas for Leadership training. At the end of the training, he received a certificate naming him The Honor Graduate of the 25th Field Artillery Battalion Infantry Division. Bob then went to Fort Benning, Georgia for Ranger training. His final military appointment was in Chicago where he scrambled jets from Alcorn, Wisconsin to identify aircraft. Several times during his military training, Bob was fully packed with gear and weapons, ready to leave for Korea, when his orders were changed and he was sent for additional training.
On April 13, 1952, Easter Sunday, Bob married the love of his life, Carolyn Thompson. They met while they were in grade school. When Carolyn’s oldest sister, Evelyn married Bob’s oldest brother, Don, their relationship grew. Bob and Carolyn always enjoyed spending time together, holding hands wherever they were. Bob’s special name for Carolyn was “My Bride.” His favorite scripture describing Carolyn is Proverbs 31:10-31.
In time, Bob and Carolyn were blessed with two children. Garry and Debi quickly became the centers of their world, and Bob took his role as a father very seriously. He and Carolyn brought up their children in the way of the Lord, raising them in a loving, Christian home. An excellent provider, regardless of his busy work schedule, Bob always carved out time for long walks with Carolyn and family vacations. He proudly passed on the lessons of hard work, integrity, and honesty that he learned from his parents to his children.
Bob worked at Hydreco for several years. Trusting the Lord, Bob entered the real estate business. With signature integrity, hard work, and determination, he opened RL Walton, Incorporated. He was honored as President of the Board of Realtors in 1977, Realtor of the Year in 1986, and Landlord of the Year in 1989. Bob sold many homes throughout the years, and he always gave the new homeowners a Bible with a note he wrote inside that read, “I found the Word of God to be a real encouragement in my life. I trust that you will find in His Word that you will have a new home with Him as the center of your family, in addition to your new house.” Selling real estate was not only a means to provide for his family; it was also a passion. He was always putting others before himself and was happy to share in their joy of home ownership.
In 1979, Bob ad Carolyn purchased a home in Bradenton, Florida, and eventually spent six months each winter in the sunshine enjoying Disney, walking the beach, and softball. They attended The Tabernacle Church in Sarasota for the past 20 years. During the summer months, Bob would join the men’s prayer group on Saturday mornings by phone.
A naturally outgoing person, Bob lived by The Golden Rule and treated everyone as his neighbor. He was thankful for what was given to him by his Lord and generously gave to others. Even as he was receiving healthcare at the Kalamazoo Cancer Center, he made sure to personally connect with his caregivers, inquiring about their own lives. He offered prayer to those in need and loved giving bags of clementines to others as a small token of his appreciation.
Wherever Bob worked, lived, or socialized, he was a beacon of Christ; a true witness and testimony through his words, deeds, and actions. He found joy in the Lord and wished to share that joy with others.
Though the world feels less certain in the absence of Bob’s steadfast faith and love, may our many treasured memories provide deep comfort. May the honor of carrying his legacy forward also provide comfort. In each moment we live, we honor God by loving our family and neighbors, working hard, giving generously, and being grateful for our blessings. We celebrate the many ways Bob gifted our lives. In this way, we keep his spirit alive, inspiring others as he so inspired us.
Robert "Bob" Walton, age 92, of Portage, went home to be with his Lord on the morning of Sunday, May 21, 2023. He is survived by his lovely bride Carolyn; 2 children: Garry (Dee) Walton and Debi (Richard) Brouwer; 6 grandchildren: Stephen (Alex) Walton, Nathan (Bree) Brouwer, Nicholas (Heidi) Brouwer, David (Sara) Walton, Kylee (Kyle) Zomerlei, Alyssa ( Chris) Noonan; 14 great-grandchildren: Lucia, Maxwell, Noah, Zoe, Lydia, Quinn, Mikayla, Mae, Brooks, Lila, Toby, Flynn, Ollie, and Zeke; one brother; Ted (Vivian) Walton. He was preceded in death by a grandchild, Natalie Brouwer, a sister, Dorothy Campbell, and a brother Don Walton.
Please join us at a Life Story Visitation where food and stories will be shared on Monday (May 29) from 4-7 PM at Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900. Celebration of Life Services will be held at 1 PM on Tuesday (May 30) at the Agape Christian Church, 609 Cherokee, Kalamazoo. The family will receive friends one hour before the service at the church. Visit Bob's webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories and photos and sign his guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to the Agape Christian Church, SHALOM, Kalamazoo Youth for Christ, or The Tabernacle Church of Sarasota, Florida.