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Life Story / Obituary
Chuck had gifted hands. We are fortunate now to see his beautiful craft all around us in memory of his dedication, hard work, and passion. Though he was no stranger to 7-day work weeks, he always put his family first. He was a loving husband, a caring father, and a fun-loving honest friend.
Charles was born in 1955, and this year was packed full of many affairs that made the history books. President Dwight D. Eisenhower was leading the United States when a magical kingdom of no other kind was introduced to the world with Walt Disney's Disney Land in California. With 7 out of 10 families proudly owning an automobile, it was now possible to get an infamous hamburger from the drive-thru of the first McDonald's. The new car standard also included the newest feature of built-in seat belts. Even more magic was experienced by children everywhere singing "M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E" along with the Mouseketeers on "Mickey Mouse Club House." It was a time of believing there was goodness in the future ahead.
Just as the Earth realized it was Springtime in Kalamazoo, Michigan, new life was beginning all around town. Specifically, the home of the Zagar family had made just the right preparations to welcome their sweet baby boy into the world. On March 31st, precious cries of joy were celebrated at Borgess Hospital when Robert and Margaret (Pfau) Zagar welcomed Charles to complete their family.
With the help of siblings, Mary Sue and Robert Jr., Chuck created a childhood of fond memories. He was the baby of the family and was also adorned with the cutest curly hair. In fact, it was so much better than his brother's that their dad decided to give them both crew cuts to make it more equitable!
The family placed their roots in the village of Mattawan. Eventually, their parents bought a grape farm, which provided many valuable lessons. The whole family worked to make it a successful endeavor. Though Chuck was involved in basketball and baseball, excelling in both, he learned the value of juggling work responsibilities with play. This experience stayed with him throughout his lifetime, as it instilled a good work ethic.
Chuck successfully earned his high school diploma from Mattawan High School with the class of 1973. A natural path led him to Joe Soudek, a builder, with whom Chuck learned the building trades. It was apparent he had a knack for the work, and soon he partnered with his brother before branching off on his own in 1976.
This career move was a good one. Chuck quickly became known for his custom framing subcontractor abilities within the builders' community. He built a strong business plan with honesty and integrity as the foundation. He also surrounded himself with good people who shared similar work ethics; Hector and Eric were long-time dedicated employees. Chuck's philosophy was not to be the biggest builder in town but rather to be the one who built high-quality houses that an owner would proudly call home. His vision was one in which a homeowner could comfortably live and entertain guests. No detail was too small, as Chuck was a perfectionist at heart, and he lived for the challenge of making unique custom homes.
Even after Chuck entered adulthood, he cherished time with his family. For years, he would meet with his mother for breakfast on the weekends. The meal they ate together was delicious, but what hit the spot more so was the conversations they shared catching up on the week and life happenings. Chuck was a wonderful Father who took great pride in taking care of his family, whether it be it be fixing something broken, a shoulder to cry on , or an ear to listen he was always there for his children. In the same sentiment, Chuck bought his grandparents' farm and property, making their old farmhouse his home for many years.
Around 2004, Chuck's heart took a few extra beats when he met the woman he was going to marry. Vicki VanDenBerg managed the local restaurant, Main Street Pub, where Chuck frequented. Soon, they were officially an item. After about a year and a half, the two decided to plan a wedding. In 2005, they exchanged vows on the family farm and became husband and wife.
Chuck put in many hours to make his business a success so in his free time he enjoyed being at home. Though he was a homebody, Chuck and Vicki did enjoy a memorable trip to the Dominican Republic and other small trips to visit family in Indiana and out east.
With great excitement, Vicki and Chuck became grandparents; Kierstin, Josh, Hailey, Taylor, Morgan along with Chaz and Kolcyn made Chuck's heart expand with even greater love. Chaz created an extra special place in his grandfather's heart.
Within the last year, Chuck started to feel unwell. Instead of checking into the issue right away, Chuck kept up his dedicated work practice. Though he was stubborn, Chuck finally conceded that something was not right. Upon seeing his doctor in September, he faced the diagnosis of esophageal cancer. Shortly after he learned of his fate, he needed hospice care.
After 64 years in this lifetime, Charles "Chuck" Zagar peacefully passed away. His loving family was by his side at Borgess Hospital. As we reflect on the times we shared with Chuck, we can learn from the legacy he leaves behind. If we each take these two life lessons to heart, our memories of Chuck will last a lifetime: He was a firm believer in finishing something if you start it and understanding it takes hard work to achieve greatness. He modeled these values his entire life. We will miss him dearly.
Chuck was preceded in death by his father Robert, brother Robert Jr. and a step-son Chris VanDenBerg. Members of his family include his wife Vicki VanDenBerg, daughter Stephanie Zagar, son Ted (Alicia) Zagar, mother Margaret Zagar, sister Mary Sue (Rodney) Dragicevich, step daughter Nicole Nine, sisters-in-law Janet Zagar, Naomi (Randy) Duvall, Dawn (Paul) Handy, Michael (Melinda) Wentzloff, 5 grandchildren: Kierstin, Josh, Hailey, Taylor, Morgan, 2 step grandsons: Chaz and Kolcyn, many other relatives.
Cremation has taken place and service will be held on Saturday, October 19 at 10 am Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive; Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900. Please visit Chuck's personal memory page at www.BetzlerLifeStory.com where you can share a favorite memory or photo and sign his guestbook before coming to the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society.