Where Food, Drinks & Stories Are Shared

Emily Keenan

October 2, 1996 - May 10, 2018
Kalamazoo, MI



Monday, May 14, 2018
4:00 PM to 7:00 PM EDT
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
Kalamazoo Location
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
(269) 375-2900

Food and refreshments will be served.

Driving Directions

Mass of Christian Burial

Tuesday, May 15, 2018
11:00 AM EDT
St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church
1150 West Centre Avenue
Portage, MI 49024
(269) 327-5165

A luncheon will follow in the church hall.

Web Site


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.

Gryphon Place
3245 South 8th Street
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
(269) 381-1510
Web Site


Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.

1830 S. Westnedge
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
(269) 349-4961
Driving Directions
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


All who knew Emily would agree that she lit up every room she entered with her huge smile, contagious laugh and loving spirit. Her zest for life, love of people and incredible sense of humor was magnetic and she lived every day to the fullest and was fully committed to living in the present moment. Emily was renowned for saying that she had just had the best day of her life and that often involved music, friends, food and family and of course…..lots of laughter.

Emily was Chris and Stephanie’s second child and she was born the year after their business, The Kalamazoo Kingdom, was started. It was a very busy time in the Keenan household, with Kaitlyn being 2 ½ years old, Stephanie working nights as a PICU nurse and Chris getting Kingdom off the ground. During this time, her Nana and Grandad, Des and Pauline Keenan, were integral to the household and provided much needed childcare, laundry service, swimming lessons and many, many shepherd’s pies, which are still a favorite in the Keenan house today.

From the time Emily was young, it was evident that she was a free spirit, bringing joy and adventure to everything she did. She went to Nature’s Way preschool where she developed her passion for the outdoors and we all discovered her true talent and love for art. From an early age, Emily had an incredible connection with her Grandad and they were true kindred spirits. Their sense of humor, love of cooking and general antics and shenanigans were a joy to watch and sometimes it felt like you were an outsider watching two very old friends reminisce and have a laugh.

When Emily was four, her brother Max was born and she fully embraced being a big sister. Over the years, she attended all of Max’s sporting events and was renowned for her fun-loving signs cheering on Max and his friend, Brennan Creek. Max and Em spent hours shooting hoops, fishing, playing in the water, and the watching “The Office”. Their close bond also ended in laughter.

Emily and her sister Kaitlyn had a special bond and had the benefits and annoyances that come with being so close in age as Emily always wanting to be part of the fun. Emily always loved Kaitlyn’s friends from a very early age and became close to many of Kaitlyn’s friends over the years. Emily brought Kaitlyn back to soccer at various times in her life and they were competitive with each other throughout the years.

Emily went to Portage West Middle High School and made special friends with Bailey Burchette a great teammate and friend. Emily was also close to Anna Jursenic and her parents who graciously took Emily across the magnificent Lake Michigan on the Badger, to what would become one of Emily’s favorite summer destinations, Door County, Wisconsin. As a beach girl she loved South Haven, South Beach with her parents and North Beach with her friends. Weekly pontoon rides on beautiful Gull Lake with her Papa and Grandma, Gary and Jan Smith, in the summer and annual trips to Sarasota to see Grandad and Nana. During her Middle School years, she also discovered her aptitude for mathematics, while exploring many different sports and interests and developing friendships that would continue through her life.

As you can imagine, her father introduced her to a soccer ball before she could walk and she had a true talent and love for the game. Her father built a special bond through soccer as he had the privilege to coach her during her Club season at Kingdom Soccer Club. She had the unique gift of being able to shoot with both feet and her Dad describes her left foot shots, as “an absolute rocket”. As with everything in her life, she threw her whole self into every game, so much so that it wasn’t unusual for her to have an injury after a game. After a particularly bad concussion, she took an IQ test only to reveal that she was in fact, a genius!

Her incredible aptitude for mathematics prevailed and she enjoyed sharing her talents and knowledge with others, through official and unofficial tutoring. She and her family were avid Manchester United and Ohio State Buckeyes fans and loved days at the house with family, watching their beloved teams. She even had the opportunity to attend a Man U game at Old Trafford in 2010, with her whole family.

Once she was finished with high school, she took her love and compassion for others to another level as she became a Certified Nurse Assistant. She loved caring for her elders and creating joy, laughter and a social life where there was often a void before. She adored finding ways to create new memories for her patients and often considered them dear friends.

Emily always looked forward to Christmas cookie making with her Papa and Grandma in their lovely country home in Richland. This was a dear tradition to her, as she would spend that day with her many cousins and sharing the various new developments in their lives. She had a special bond and kinship with her cousin Maggie, they enjoyed many laughs and much mischief together over the years. She considered her cousins dear friends. She was their greatest fan and admirer and always looked forward to their time together.

Emily’s given and chosen Aunts and Uncles were a big part of her life and she developed great friendships with all of them. She had many sleepovers, shopping trips and new adventures with this extended family and treasured the experiences, memories and friendships deeply.

A few years ago, her family moved to Indian Lake where they discovered a love for lake life and a new lease on Keenan family life. Emily absolutely loved being in nature and took every opportunity to spend time on the kayak and to go swimming, or fishing. The Keenans all found great joy in family boat rides and new and improved family traditions. Emily recently met her girlfriend, Emily Hulburt. They had started a very happy relationship and were looking forward to a beautiful summer together.

Emily was the complete package and will be dearly missed. Artistic, intelligent, beautiful, athletic, able to love unconditionally and live every moment, fully and in the present. Her sister summarized it best by saying that she was just “unapologetically Emily”. Full of life, love and laughter – she will never be forgotten and we can all take a lesson from her by living in the present moment, having compassion for others and discovering the next best day of our lives!