Life Story Visitation
Wednesday, April 19, 2023
11:00 AM EDT
St. Mary Church
209 S. Brown St.
Paw Paw, MI 49079
Burial will follow at St. Mary's 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.
Kalamazoo Curling Club
3600 Vanrick Dr
Kalamazoo, MI 49001
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
A selfless spirit who enjoyed life, Garnet Eckstrand lived a life rich in family and friends. Garnet had a terrific sense of humor and, with great wisdom, surrounded himself with people. Garnet’s good company always ensured much laughter and many good times. Whether spending time with his family, looking after his yard, on the golf course, at the curling club, or hosting a gathering, Garnet embraced every moment and gave all he could to make life a bit better for others. A devoted husband, father, and friend, Garnet will long be remembered and so very missed.
Born on March 21, 1964, in Killam, Alberta, to Carl and Edith (Henderson) Eckstrand, Garnet grew up on a farm, the youngest of three sons. His brothers Ian and Kevin were influential in helping him achieve at school as well as develop a lifelong love of curling and golf. His early years were centered on family, friends, community, and hard work, which proved the firm foundation upon which he built the rest of his life.
After graduating from Sedgewick Central High, Garnet earned his bachelor’s degree from Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. His first job was at the City of Edmonton where he formed many friendships with people who shared his interests in golf and curling. Garnet moved to Michigan and worked as a contract programmer at Kellogg’s in Battle Creek. It was here that he was blessed to meet his future wife, Debbie, who also worked as a contract programmer for the same consulting firm. When Debbie saw the company phone list, she was struck by Garnet’s uncommon name. When they met for the first time, they quickly bonded over their mutual humor.
The couple began dating and setting their hearts on building a future together. On May 12, 1990, they married and began their 32-year adventure together by first moving back to Canada. Debbie came to know Garnet’s family, strong Canadian farmers who lovingly welcomed her into their hearts and home. While living in Canada, Garnet and Debbie welcomed their first son, Mac.
In time, the family returned to West Michigan when Garnet began working for Kellogg’s again. Over the course of his long career, he worked for Pharmacia/Upjohn, Pfizer, and most recently, Zoetis, where he was a Senior Manager, developing excellent working relationships along the way.
Proud of their dual citizenship, Garnet and his family called themselves CanAmericans. When their son Mitchell was born, their family was complete. Garnet and Debbie created a loving and supportive home for their sons. They worked together to make their homes inviting and to beautify their yards. Wherever they lived, Garnet formed close relationships with his neighbors and enjoyed hosting gatherings around the tiki bar he built at his current home.
Garnet loved the game of golf, teaching his sons to play the game and golfing as a family. They enjoyed many golf trips together, but their time at Heritage Glen Golf Course was their favorite. Garnet also enjoyed the sport of curling. As a former Canadian Junior Nationals player, he missed and wanted to bring curling to the area. He was one of the founding members of the Kalamazoo Curling Club where he served on the board for many years and was a mentor to all. Garnet was involved in helping bring dedicated ice and putting Kalamazoo on the national map for curling. His ability to connect with people brought Olympians to Kalamazoo bridging the gap between elite and beginner curlers. He was particularly proud when the group, against all odds, secured the privilege of hosting the 2010, 2015, and 2019, U.S. Curling Nationals.
Without a doubt, Garnet’s family was his greatest joy. He planned many golf trips with his sons Mac and Mitch and always made time to help them with the game he loved to play. He loved coaching, refereeing, and watching his son Mac play soccer and even named his beloved dog Rooney after a famous soccer player. Rooney was a full family member. Garnet was his voice and advocated Rooney’s place in the family. Rooney liked riding in the car with Garnet, sticking his head out the window, wagging his tail at others, and inspiring many smiles.
A fan of the Edmonton Oilers hockey team, Garnet liked being the center of attention and making people laugh. Motivated to help others, he had a gift for putting people at ease. His impact on others was most evident in the many visitors who came from near and far to see him in his final days. He recently began attending St. Mary’s in Paw Paw, MI and was baptized just last week while in the hospital. He also chose to give the ultimate gift, the gift of life, by becoming an organ donor. Knowing how lucky those people are going to be to have a bit of Garnet in them affords his family a deep sense of peace.
Though our days with him were far too few, every moment we shared with Garnet will long be treasured. In his good company, we shared much laughter and many joys. May we find much comfort in our many wonderful memories and in the honor of carrying his legacy forward. In each moment we welcome others as friends, give of ourselves in service to others, choose faith over fear, play a game of golf, and cheer on our loved ones’ endeavors, we celebrate the many ways Garnet touched our lives. In this way, we keep his spirit alive and inspiring others as he so inspired each of us.
Garnet Eckstrand of Portage, age 59, died on April 7, 2023. Surviving are his wife, Debbie; sons: Mac and Mitchell, and many extended family members. A Rosary will be recited on Tuesday, April 18 at 3 PM at Betzler & Thompson Life Story Funeral Homes, 60900 M-40 Paw Paw, Michigan. Visitation will follow until 7 PM. Funeral Mass will be celebrated Wednesday, April 19, at 11 AM at St. Mary Church, Paw Paw, Michigan followed by a burial at St. Mary’s Cemetery.
A celebration of Garnet’s life will be held later this summer at a place and time to be determined. Visit Garnet’s webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories, photos, and sign his guestbook. Memorial donations in lieu of flowers may be made to Calhoun County Animal Center, Kalamazoo Junior Golf Association, or Kalamazoo Curling Club.