Life Story Visitation
Thursday, January 12, 2023
4:00 PM to 7:00 PM EST
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Where food, drinks, and stories will be shared.
Mass of Christian Burial
Visitation 1 hour prior.
Burial immediately following mass at Portage South Cemetery.
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
Dan Kitchen was a remarkable person to know and love. Known to squeeze every drop of energy from each day, Dan held a fierce love for spending quality time with his family. Gone too soon, his zest for life and his charismatic energy will be his greatest legacy. He leaves behind a wonderful collection of memories for his friends and family to cherish forever.
Dan’s story begins in the year 1975, a promising time in our nation’s history. Just a few weeks shy of the official end to the Vietnam War, Bruce and Alice (Mucha) Kitchen welcomed him home on April 5th in Burton, Michigan, just outside of the city of Flint. The youngest of three sons, his birth brought them great joy.
Growing up, Dan lived a typical childhood of the times. He loved spending his time outdoors, especially riding bikes and shooting hoops with his neighborhood buddies. His dad modeled a strong work ethic working at General Motors, while his mom stayed home to raise the boys. Some of Dan’s favorite childhood memories were spending time on any sports field or court taking pointers from his dad, or being on the open water fishing at the crack of dawn to catch the early morning bites.
Active and outgoing, Dan excelled at sports during his growing years. During his time at Bentley High School, he played football and basketball, and ran track and field. Both of his parents wanted nothing but the best for him. His dad taught him how to invest and manage money, while his mom shared her skills in the kitchen. By the time Dan was ready to leave home, he was the perfect catch as he knew how to cook, clean, and manage a home! After graduation, Dan chose Western Michigan University to pursue his dreams and earned a Bachelor's degree in printing and paper sciences in December of 1998.
His palpable and contagious energy was the perfect match for his first job in the Chicago area. Excited to move near the big city, Dan secured his own apartment and furniture, a truck, and a gym membership! With energy left to burn at the end of each workday, Dan would head right to the gym. Over time, another gym enthusiast started to notice him. Nervous, yet still very much interested, Jenny worked up the courage to introduce herself. With Cinco de Mayo just a few days away, they decided to have their first date over a Corona at a local restaurant in downtown Naperville and the rest was history!
Jenny and Dan shared a beautiful journey together. In their early dating days, he doted on Jenny with healthy home-cooked meals. Active as well as competitive, they also enjoyed jogging together and hanging out with friends. Dan introduced her to his love of fishing and camping back in Michigan. A special highlight was planning a camping trip for her 25th birthday to the small beach town of Holland. Dan included in his plans a romantic proposal during sunset that took Jenny’s breath away! Just one year later, the happy couple was married and living in their first home in Bolingbrook, Illinois.
As much as they loved the hustle and bustle of commuting, when their daughter, Aubrey was born, they needed to slow down their pace. Dan longed for the familiarity of a smaller city with less traffic as well as access to inland lakes. The search for a fresh start landed Jenny a job offer teaching Physical Education in Portage. The city of Portage proved to be the perfect setting to raise their family halfway between both of their hometowns. In 2005, just two years after their move, their son Tyler arrived to complete their family! Dan landed his dream job with Utility Service and was a successful water systems consultant for them since 2006.
Dan believed in working hard and playing hard. Active as a dad, he was eager to coach both Aubrey and Tyler in basketball and soccer during their growing years. Never one to remain idle, Dan was always planning for their next family trip. They traveled to picturesque Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons area where Dan fell in love with the serene Jenny Lake. For most of their Spring Break family vacations, he chose somewhere warm and tropical. During the winter, the family enjoyed traveling north for downhill skiing and many of their summers were spent camping at Higgins Lake. Any amount of time they were together, they created the best of memories.
Dan loved being a husband and father. He was always willing to run errands with Jenny and was proud to serve his family some of his Great Lakes fish or game venison that he caught or hunted for the weekly menu. As a family, they bonded on their many vacations, as well as their time on the golf course. Jenny, Aubrey, Tyler, Bruce, and his father-in-law, Bill, were all his favorite golf buddies! Last winter, Dan and Jenny picked up a new hobby in ice fishing. Although they never caught anything, the memories they created were priceless!
As much as he enjoyed his family time, Dan also extended himself to his close buddies over the years. Each year, he and a great group of his closest friends went hunting and fishing. Deer and elk hunting were his favorites, however, the annual bird hunting trip to North Dakota was a highlight every year. Yet, as soon as spring rolled around, that same group of guys would head out on the Great Lakes and fish to their heart’s content! Dan also enjoyed trying his luck around the Poker table as a fill-in from time to time. A lover of all people, he enjoyed sharing good times and laughter as no one was ever a stranger in his eyes!
Known to live his life to the fullest, he enjoyed the simple pleasures in life just the same. A perfect night for Dan was fixing dinner while sipping red wine followed by relaxing outside by the fire with a cocktail and listening to country music while discussing future family vacations or endeavors. Dan loved his truck and his boat, as well as playing frisbee in the yard with his labradors; Macy, Jack, and Koda. When it came to sports, he was a steadfast fan of the Detroit Lions, U of M, and WMU Broncos football teams. Another favorite pastime was dancing at family weddings! Goofy and fun-loving, any time spent with Dan was sure to be a good time!
Sadly, in 2018, he was diagnosed with Stage 3 Melanoma. Immunotherapy treatment kept his cancer in remission. This past summer, Dan started experiencing seizures. Even after his third seizure on October 10th, his buddies took him to North Dakota for their annual week-long bird hunting trip along with Dan’s bird dog, Jack. Dan was grateful for an amazing week out in God’s Country. Just a couple of weeks later, he suffered a significant stroke that left massive bleeding on his brain. A tenacious fighter, he was eventually released from both Bronson Hospital and Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Grand Rapids. Dan was faithful to his outpatient therapy and exercises at home enabling him to recently celebrate Christmas with both the Kohl and Kitchen families.
Devastation struck when Dan suffered another stroke on January 5th and passed away the next morning. Doctors concluded that the melanoma cancer must have returned as a tumor in his brain and was causing the seizures and brain bleeds. A vibrant and jovial spirit, Dan will be deeply missed by his many special friends and loved ones. May they always look back on his quick-witted humor and warm personality with fondness, and may the special moments they shared live on eternally in their hearts.
Daniel Kitchen, age 47, of Portage, MI, died on January 6, 2023. Surviving is his wife, Jennifer; children: Aubrey and Tyler; his parents; brothers: Brian (Jenny) Kitchen and Craig Kitchen. Please join us at Life Story Visitation where food, drinks, and stories will be shared on Thursday, January 12, 2023, from 4-7 PM at Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Friday, January 13, 2023, at 11 AM at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church in Portage. Burial will follow at Portage South Cemetery. Visit Dan’s webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories, photos, and to sign his guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to the University of Michigan Health West Cancer Center.