Life Story Service
Life Story Reception
Thursday, May 11, 2023
5:00 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.
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
As his family and friends can surely attest, Christian Danek truly understood the secret to a life well lived. He was a constant source of strength, even in the most difficult of times, and he always had an encouraging word for others who needed support. Nothing brought Chris greater joy than spending time with his family, and even in the simplest moments, he made lasting memories. Chris was a steadfast provider for his family, and he was always willing to go above and beyond to serve others in ways both great and small. Dearly loved, Chris will be forever missed by those who knew him best.
It seems only fitting that Chris’ journey began during a time that was as colorful and vibrant as he was. The year 1969 brought the moon landing; amazing music, including Woodstock; and a time of great celebration in the lives of Tom and Donna (Tanner) Danek as they announced the birth of the baby boy they named Christian Lee on October 25, 1969, in Owosso, Michigan.
Growing up, Chris was a curious and creative young man. He was raised alongside two of his siblings, Danielle and John. Later, the Danek family would grow to include Chris’ long-separated brother, Roger Jones. Chris’ father worked at the family business, Danek’s Good Time Ice Company, and he was also a talented billiards player who played in tournaments throughout Chris’ childhood. His mother worked as a certified nursing assistant. Though Chris’ childhood was turbulent at times, his paternal grandparents, Lora and Frank Danek, were his guiding light. His relationship with them was the unshakeable foundation of his life.
From a young age, Chris liked playing video games and being with his friends. He also rode and raced BMX bikes on the local Owosso trails. Chris loved rock music, including Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix and could be found doing his homework with his headphones on, listening to tunes. He was possessive of his candy and would go to great lengths to ensure his brother and sister did not steal it. He and his brother, John, got into plenty of mischief together. Chris attended Owosso public schools, and even though his teenage years were a struggle at times, he was a hard worker who always strove to better himself. He was gifted with numbers and very intelligent, and he was fortunate to have a strong group of close friends. Chris spent every summer working at the ice company alongside his grampa, father, and uncles. He graduated from Owosso High School in 1987 and went on to attend Western Michigan University, where he discovered a genuine passion for working with youth.
All who knew Chris can certainly agree that he treasured his loved ones above all else. He became a father at a young age, and over the years he was overjoyed to welcome his three beloved daughters, Amber, Abigail, and Amelia, into his life. Chris thrived in his role as a father, and he balanced his college and early career with his family responsibilities. In 2005, he met the woman who would quickly become the love of his life. She was a talented singer from Chicago named Ann Boyle, and they met on Match.com. They had a romantic first date at a small Italian restaurant in Chicago, and the couple felt an instant connection. Ann soon moved to Kalamazoo in order to be close to him. Though Chris and Ann never married, they were soulmates who loved each other dearly. Later in life, Chris was thrilled to become a grandfather as well. He adored his grandchildren, Adrian and Amountrae, and doted on them whenever he could. Chris loved to have his children and grandchildren over to swim and play games.
During his college years, Chris began to develop a vision for his community. He had the idea to start a coffee shop in downtown Kalamazoo where young people could hang out and socialize. Chris began pursuing that vision after college, and he dove headfirst into the world of entrepreneurship and business. In 1992, he opened the Fourth Coast Café. The Coast gave many a cool place to enjoy a cup of fourth roast, play card games or chess, and make new friends. In 2003, Chris opened Crow’s Nest Restaurant with his siblings at his side. With the help of his amazing staff, he was able to build a successful business and create a menu of unique and delicious dishes with locally sourced food that many have come to enjoy. Ann was very involved with the business as well. For many years, Chris had a side job building lofts along with his friends and family. In August, he and his team would build lofts at the dorms of Western Michigan University. They worked hard but had a lot of fun doing it. Chris was always willing to work hard, and he loved contributing to his community in a variety of ways.
Never one to sit still for long, Chris pursued many interests to stay busy. He loved shooting pool and even considered going pro at one time. Chris went to several amateur pool tournaments and ended up beating his father, which was one of his greatest accomplishments. He also enjoyed playing chess and poker. After his business was established and steady, Chris and Ann traveled to many places in the Upper Peninsula; Disney; Washington D.C.; and New York, as well as visited his daughters and grandsons. He loved his cats and dogs along the years and cared deeply for the earth and its preservation. Chris and Ann enjoyed going to movies at the Riviera in Three Rivers. They liked art films and attending the Sundance Film Festival. Both Chris and Ann were foodies who loved going out to eat and trying new places.
When reflecting on the life of Christian Danek, it is easy to see both his unwavering strength and his unconditional love for his family. Although he accomplished a lot, his primary focus in life was fostering deep and personal relationships with those around him. Chris was known as Papa Java to many, and his caring and easy spirit made a friend to most who met him. A loving father, grandfather, and uncle, Chris was encouraging and supportive of those he cared about. He was well known for his generosity and kindness, and his serving spirit allowed him to touch the lives of countless others. Though he will be deeply missed by his friends and family, Chris leaves behind a legacy that his community will remember for years to come.
Christian Lee Danek, age 53, passed away on Thursday, March 2, 2023. Chris was preceded in death by his father Tom Danek and his beloved grandparents, Frank and Lora Danek and William and Geraldine Tanner. Chris is survived by his love, Ann Boyle; his children, Amber, Abigail, and Amelia; his grandchildren, Adrian and Amountrae; his mother, Donna (Tanner) VanLuven; his sister, Danielle (David) Marschke; his brothers, John Tejkl and Roger (Leslie) Jones; and many loving aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, other relatives, and friends. Life Story Services will be held Thursday, May 11, 2023, at 4:00 p.m. at Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo, MI 49009 (269) 375-2900. A reception will follow in the Life Story Center where food, drinks, and stories will be shared. Visit Chris’ webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories, photos, and sign his guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to American Cancer Society and The Nature Conservancy.