Life Story Gathering
PRAYER SERVICE - LIVE STREAM ONLY
Thursday, December 10, 2020
7:00 PM EST
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Life Story / Obituary
Generous, loving, and kind, Dan Eager was a man who welcomed each day as a gift and every person as a friend. With a warm personality and a knack for corny dad jokes, Dan inspired good feelings and laughter wherever he went. He listened with sincerity, saw the best in everyone, and made others feel that they were the most interesting person he had ever met. A proud Air Force veteran and graduate of Michigan State University, Dan lived a life rich in family and friends. A devoted husband, father, grandfather, uncle, and friend, Dan was loved by many; he will long be remembered and ever so missed.
1944 marked a time when all American lives were directly impacted by the war effort in Europe. While countless young people served in the trenches of WWII, those who remained stateside poured their energies into supporting the war effort. As Americans welcomed the end of meat rationing and began planting Victory Gardens, Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the G.I. Bill and soon became the only U.S. president elected to a fourth term. The popular tunes of Bing Crosby and Ella Fitzgerald filled the airwaves. New toys like the Slinky and Silly Putty made their way into the hands of children, and Smokey Bear began his safety campaign. As the nation looked toward peace and prosperity, Clarence and Phyllis (Pickering) Eager celebrated their own hopes for the future as they welcomed their son Dannie into their hearts and home on November 8, in Bay City, Michigan.
Growing up near the shores of Saginaw Bay, on Lake Huron, and the son of a commercial fisherman, Dan’s early days centered on a love of the outdoors, hunting pheasants and ducks in the fields and ditches along the bay. Along with his siblings, Dan learned the art and importance of hard work and resiliency. As a young boy, Dan worked with his father setting nets and lines in the bay, often in stormy weather.
As a young man, Dan competed in long distance rifle shooting as a member of the Bay City Rifle Club. After graduating from Bay City Central High School, he attended Delta College where he belonged to Lambda Nu fraternity and made life-long friends before transferring to Michigan State University. While at Michigan State, he chose to enlist and serve in the Air Force where he became an instructor, teaching fellow Airmen to build or repair cryptography equipment. Once he safely arrived home following his service, he returned to his studies at MSU. Though it took him a little longer than expected, Dan’s persistence paid off, and he earned his Bachelor of Science degree.
Dan was blessed to be introduced to Joyce, the love of his life, through mutual friends. He knew Joyce was the one when she was willing to spend their first date leach picking on a golf course. Joyce was instantly attracted to Dan’s easy-going, fun personality. The fact that he was so dang cute helped too! With their hearts set on sharing their lives and creating a future together, Dan and Joyce married on December 30, 1967.
In 1972, the happy couple was blessed to welcome their first child, Christopher, while living in Lansing, MI. Shortly thereafter, they settled in Kalamazoo where Dan worked in insurance and then as a realtor. Along the way, Scott and Kimberly were born. The kids quickly became the centers of their world. Dan dedicated himself to ensuring his children a loving and supportive home with his wonderful wife at his side. He instilled in them the values of good behavior and hard work, as well as a respect and love for the outdoors. Once, he made Scott write an apology letter for melting a crayon with a cigarette lighter and dumping it all over the car, teaching him the need to take responsibility for his actions. He taught a young Chris how to be calm during a crisis one evening on Saginaw Bay. While setting night-lines, the prop fell off the motor. Dan kept Chris calm as he painstakingly searched the bay bottom as darkness grew. When that failed, Dan and Chris used poles to make their way back home. His kids’ and grandkids biggest fan, Dan never missed any of their sports, concerts, or special events. His steadfast presence at Kim’s soccer and basketball games is remembered by many. His famous dad jokes were often the chagrin of his kids (“What is a honeymoon salad? Just lett-uce alone!”), but they also inspired much-needed laughter. He relished taking his kids, and his grandkids, fishing, sharing his knowledge and passion for the pastime. Dan was extremely proud of his children and grandchildren.
In the 1980’s Dan returned to the world of fresh fish, when he opened a seafood market and restaurant; Dan’s Fish Shanty became his labor of love and many in the area still long for the fried catfish, shrimp, and award winning ribs that Dan provided. All three kids worked at the “Shanty” learning the value of a hard-earned wage from their father. He loved his customers and generously helped in any way he could.
During his leisure time, Dan always had projects to tend to. Whether working in the yard, fixing things around the house, remodeling, cooking, or cleaning the house, Dan liked being busy and having a purpose. He cheered on the Spartan’s basketball and football teams and spent as much time outdoors as possible. Dan and Joyce spent 38 years camping in the summer at Shelp’s Resort on Pine Lake. He had a pontoon boat, Lil’ Fuzz, that he turned into a fishing boat and would take the kids and friends around the lake to fish or for sunset rides. Known as “Dan the Man” by many around the lake, he was a fixture in Lil’ Fuzz with a line in the water as the sun began to rise. In the afternoons, he would often spend time talking on the decks with Katie and Larry, the Reardons, Steinbachers, Kiblers, and Vanderlaans. He even hand-built a water-ski course for the lake.
When he wasn’t fishing or hunting, he could often be found golfing. He belonged to Ridgeview Golf Club and enjoyed playing on their leagues with his good friend and partner, Vinnie. In his late sixties and early seventies, Dan was also roped into joining his kids and grandkids on several camping trips to the Upper Peninsula and northern lower Michigan. His camp breakfasts were legendary, and the time spent together, priceless. His passionate support for the MSU Spartans often found him at odds with his son-in-law, Matt, a Michigan fan. The two traded the same dollar, bet on the yearly football game for 14 seasons. Dan got the last laugh, as Matt humbly delivered the dollar one last time.
Without a doubt, Dan was a gift for all who were blessed to know him. Though his love for people could result in his errand runs taking forever, his honesty, generosity, and sincere love for people afforded safe harbor for many. Dan lived a life of service, rooted in wholeheartedness and inspiring others at every turn. While we are saddened by the loss of Dan’s steadfast presence, may we find comfort in carrying his remarkable legacy forward. With each moment we welcome a new friend, give of our time and talents, cast our lines, and crack a joke and a beer, we celebrate the many ways Dan gifted our lives. In so doing, we keep his spirit alive and inspiring others as he inspired us.
Dan Eager, of Plainwell, age 76, died on December 3, 2020. With his wife, Joyce, and his 3 children: Christopher, Scott, and Kimberly, Dan made the most of every day, teaching his children to work hard and be a positive example for others. Dan was preceded in death by his parents and 3 siblings: Ronald (Ruth & Sue) Eager, Beverly (Paul) Quast, and Marlene (Mike) Peterson. Surviving are his wife of 52 years, Joyce; 3 children: Christopher Eager, Scott (Tina) Eager, Kimberly (Matt) Eldred; 6 grandchildren: Jonathan, Collin, and Levi Eager, Andrew, Alayna, and Anna Eldred; siblings: Dawne (Richard) Williams and Sue (Bud Anderson) Lent; and many nieces and nephews.
Cremation has taken place. A Life Story gathering for friends and family will be held 4-7 PM Thursday (DEC 10) at Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo 269-375-2900. Private burial with military honors will take place at a later date at Fort Custer National Cemetery. Visit Dan’s personal webpage at www.BetzlerLifeStory.com, where you may read his Life Story, archive a favorite memory or photo, and sign his online guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital or Kalamazoo Loaves and Fishes.