Thursday, September 2, 2021
1:00 PM EDT
Agape Christian Church
609 Cherokee St
Kalamazoo, MI 49006
Private burial will take place following the service.
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 FBO Alms Fund
609 Cherokee St
Kalamazoo, MI 49006
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Chris Lewis Mortimore was a loving husband, father, and grandfather. He was a dedicated, compassionate, and caring man of God, both a leader in his work and church communities, and a loyal friend to many. Chris found his greatest happiness in the family he so deeply loved. Although his passing carries with it a profound grief, Chris’s life was a testament to his gentle and faithful spirit, his commitment to those around him, and his perpetual joy in all he encountered. The memories he leaves behind will be cherished by all who knew him; he will be deeply missed.
Chris was welcomed into the world by his parents, George and Dorothy Mortimore, on April 28, 1949. He lived an idyllic 1950s childhood alongside his only sister, Sue. Chris attended Milford High School where he graduated in 1967, and it was during these school years that he developed his lifelong love of baseball and other recreational sports. He played halfback on the Milford football team, and he was crowned the King of the Christmas Dance. After his graduation, Chris attended Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan where he took classes in general studies with aspirations to enter the flight program. After two years, however, he left WMU to become an electrical apprentice, and he joined the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 131. It is in this profession that Chris served for 39 years.
Although Chris served vocationally as an electrician, his true passion was to serve the people around him. For over 30 years he devoted many evenings and weekends as a lay pastor and elder at Agape’ Christian Church. Chris was a true man of God. During this time, he led scores of home groups, taught Foundations classes, supported building projects through his skilled tradesmanship, spent countless hours in corporate prayer, participated in men’s ministry meetings and discipled many, formally and informally. With his down-to-Earth, unassuming approach to caring for others, he regularly opened his heart and home to minister to others at a moment’s notice. He would readily sit for hours to listen to stories. Without judgment, he offered practical words of wisdom and provided meaningful direction for many in times of need. Most remembered by those he served, is the joy he brought through his genuine laughter and encouragement. He was a sincere example of a good and faithful servant.
Chris met his wife of 51 years during his school days at Milford High School. He would often meet her in the hallway to walk her to her next class, even though it was completely out of his way. He had her with his first kiss, with his hands tightly clasped behind his back. They both attended WMU together. In the Spring of 1970, they became engaged, and they were married on August 22, 1970. The newlyweds set up shop in a tiny apartment overlooking Austin Lake but soon found themselves moving closer to Kalamazoo when gas money became short. Bicycling became their new mode of transportation. After just two short years, Chris found out they would be welcoming their first child, and together they bought their first home in the Washington Square neighborhood where they began their family of six on Clinton Street.
There was never a dull moment on Clinton Street. In short order, over a dozen more families from the Agape Church populated the neighborhood. Chris loved to engage the kids in the neighborhood, and he wanted them to have a fun experience growing up, so when the quiet neighborhood was pierced by the cries and screams of all the boys wanting to play street ball, he painted bases on the curbs and pavement. Chris taught his kids to play until the streetlights came on. When his boys became old enough, he devoted the free time he had to coaching them in baseball at Milwood Little League. Ten years of coaching allowed him to teach, guide, mentor, and encourage many young men over the years and all still have fond memories of those times on the ball field under his leadership.
Another shared love of the Mortimore family was downhill skiing. Chris served on the Ski Patrol while Caryn taught in the Ski School at Bittersweet Ski Resort for 10 years. In this time, he made several true life-long friends. The passion Chris instilled in his children for downhill skiing became a legacy for his 12 grandchildren, who continue that passion today.
As a father, Chris was gentle, patient, and kind-hearted. His enormous bear hugs and silly expressions, like, “I love you as big as a house,” were the favorite of his four children, Shannon, Rachel, Shawn, and Jesse. When his children married, he graciously opened his heart to four more children whom he loved just as “big.” Later, he treasured his time as the proud “Papa” of 12 grandchildren. His playfulness and good-natured spirit charmed each grandchild, and they, in turn, were treated with unparalleled adoration by their grandfather. Both his children and his grandchildren will remember him for his joyous, abundant, and contagious laughter.
In his retirement, Chris enjoyed fishing the lakes of Michigan, often taking his grandchildren with him to teach them the trade. It was during this time as well that Chris began deer and turkey hunting with friends. He additionally traveled to Colorado for an off-roading adventure with his son through the mountain passes of Buena Vista and Ouray. When home, he was never without a home improvement project to keep his skilled hands busy, and he loved watching Caryn tend to her garden while relaxing in their beautiful backyard. He was contemplative, content, and grateful.
As all who know him can attest, Chris treasured life. His optimism and courage after his terminal cancer diagnosis allowed him to survive two and a half years beyond his initial prognosis. He fought for life and he fought for those he loved, ever vigilant to his family. He refused to give up. During this time his family cherished every moment, celebrating his 70th birthday party and his 50th wedding anniversary together.
Chris leaves behind a priceless legacy of love, faith, kindness, and loyalty that his loved ones will proudly carry with them into the future. Chris entered heaven on August 30th at the age of 72. He passed peacefully with his family surrounding him. Chris is proceeded in death by his parents, George and Dorothy. He is survived by his loving wife, Caryn Dawn Mortimore; his two daughters: Shannon (Jeremy) and Rachel (Dave); and his two sons: Shawn (Kimberly) and Jesse (Criscelda); Twelve grandchildren: Isaac, Luke, Nathan, Zoe, Eve, Elaura, Malachi, Lulu, Phineas, Gideon, Ethan, and Ambrose; and sibling: Sue (Harv) Hannah.
Please join us for a public celebration of life ceremony at Agape Christian Church, 609 Cherokee Street, Kalamazoo, MI. 49009 at 1:00 PM on Thursday, September 2nd. The ceremony will be followed by a private interment and reception by invitation only. Visit Chris’s webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories and photos, and to sign his guestbook. Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo, (269) 375-2900.