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.
Barry County Animal Shelter
540 N Industrial Park Dr
Hastings, MI 49058
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
All who knew Glenn Zettelmaier would agree that he was truly extraordinary. He worked hard, but he took the time to enjoy life along the way, usually with his family by his side. Glenn was the glue that held his family together and the strong force his loved ones knew they could count on. Although he accomplished so much of which to be proud, he was a humble man whose greatest source of pride and joy was found in his children and grandchildren. Life will never be the same without Glenn here, but he leaves behind a timeless legacy that his loved ones will proudly carry on in his footsteps.
Life during the 1930s was anything but easy as the entire decade was cloaked in the hardship of the Great Depression. Jobs were hard to come by, which gave way to a soaring unemployment rate that affected countless American families. Despite the trials around them, John C. and Eleanor (Stech) Zettelmaier had much to celebrate as they announced the birth of the baby boy they named Glenn on December 22, 1939, in Chicago, Illinois. He was one of three as he was joined in his family by his siblings, John L. and Ann. Glenn’s father owned a milk truck and delivered milk door-to-door in Chicago while his mother was a homemaker.
In many ways Glenn was a typical young boy of his generation. He rode his bike everywhere including to Midway Airport with his brother so they could watch the planes take off. They also took the bus by themselves to downtown Chicago or to the zoo when Glenn was only around 10 years old as things were different back then. He attended elementary school in Chicago and continued his education at local schools when they moved to Gobles when he was 15. Glenn played basketball despite being only 5’7” and also worked at Rainbow Lanes in Paw Paw. He was active in the Boy Scouts and even became an Eagle Scout. Glenn and a high school friend, Dick, owned a stock car and raced at local tracks including Whiskey Run. Dick was the driver, but Glenn did drive it one time. It was the only time he drove, however, since he spun out, saw all the cars coming at him, and never wanted to drive it again. Glenn graduated from Gobles High School as the salutatorian and then went on to Western Michigan University with plans of becoming a math teacher. He was just four hours shy of graduating when he began working at the paper mill.
Known for his strong work ethic, Glenn had an amazing career. He began working at Graphic Packaging having had no training in the field. Glenn started off working part-time as a way to pay for college. He paid attention to his coworkers, learning from them, and eventually moving up to administration. Later, Glenn became purchasing manager. He was always very knowledgeable and resourceful. As a supervisor he took a hands-on approach, helping and working with his employees.
Although he found much reward in his work, there was nothing that was of greater importance to Glenn than his loved ones. His life was forever changed when he met the woman who would forever hold the key to his heart. Her name was Mary Lou, and they met through her parents as they knew each other from the local tavern, Harold and Ruth’s Bar. They began dating, and with a desire to spend the rest of their lives together Glenn and Mary Lou were married on February 24, 1968, at St. Mary’s Church in Paw Paw. Together they welcomed three children including John T., Eric, and Elizabeth into their hearts and home. Glenn was very active in the lives of his children. Although he didn’t know anything about soccer, he got his kids started in the sport and learned enough to become the coach. Glenn also taught them how to wrench on most anything from cars to lawnmowers. At one time Glenn proudly owned a Model A Ford, and he had to regularly tinker with it to keep it running. When his children were young teens, he took them to beer can conventions where collectors would swap cans. The kids enjoyed the raffles and different competitions such as throwing a beer can through a tire. Through these experiences his children learned the value of comradery. Glenn also took them to Baldwin to find cans that had been “dumped” years ago. Every once in a while, they would find a rare gem. Friday and Saturday nights were spent as a family at local race tracks as they were huge race fans. They also enjoyed traveling the states in their RV, making priceless memories. The family even took a trip to St. Croix and the Virgin Islands together, which was the first time any of them had seen the ocean.
As his children married and had children of their own Glenn was thrilled. For years they hosted family Easter egg hunts at their home for the grandkids. Glenn loved bragging about his kids and grandkids and was there to support them at their own events. He coached his kids and they in turn coached their kids with every grandchild playing soccer. He loved every moment they were together, and he taught his loved ones so much about being grateful for family. Glenn felt it was his duty to keep everyone together, and for various holidays or family gatherings he was the one doing most of the cooking. In 2009, he was deeply saddened with Mary Lou’s death.
New and exciting changes were in store for Glenn when he met Jaqueline Wheeler online. They had actually known of one another in high school, but not very well since he was older. Jacqueline was drawn to him right away, and they began dating. They shared many of the same values such as honesty and the love for family. They shared in making many happy memories together including a wonderful trip to Mexico.
Throughout his life Glenn was a man of many interests. He was an avid gardener for much of his life until it became too much for him to care for. Glenn grew a variety of things over the years including peach trees, apple trees, pear trees, tomato plants, and watermelon. Glenn also grew pumpkins for the kids and grandkids. His Ford tractor brought him great joy as it reminded him of life on his parent’s farm. Although it was far more than he needed, he generally used it as an oversized tiller. Glenn was a huge fan of NASCAR, and he was also an outdoor lover who enjoyed fishing and boating. He had a pontoon boat at Stoney Point Campground on Crooked Lake. Over the years Glenn spent lots of time fishing and taking evening cruises around the lake. He even caught a sailfish while on a “business” trip to Fort Lauderdale, and the picture made the Kalamazoo Gazette.
With a life that spanned times of great change in the world around him, Glenn Zettelmaier inspired those around him to be kind, hardworking, and loyal. He shared his gift of laughter as the family was always laughing about something, and his zest for life was contagious to all who were near. Glenn was a great conversationalist as it would sometimes take hours to say goodbye, and his devotion to his loved ones was easy to see. Dearly loved, he will be forever missed.
Glenn Zettelmaier, Age 79, died peacefully on March 31, 2019. Glenn’s family includes his domestic partner: Jacqueline Wheeler; 3 children: John T. (Leslie) Zettelmaier, Eric (Tanya) Zettelmaier, Elizabeth (Craig) Petto; 8 grandchildren: Samantha, Evelyn, John K., Kimberly, Ashley, Nick, Jessica, and Gabrielle; 2 siblings: John L. (Mary Ann) Zettelmaier, Ann (Jim) Griepp; and many nieces and nephews. Glenn was preceded in death by his loving wife, Mary Lou, and granddaughter, Emma Louise. Visit with family and friends while sharing food and refreshments on Sunday (APR 7) from 4 - 6 p.m. at Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Dr. Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900. Please visit Glenn’s personal web page at www.betzlerfuneralhome.com, where you can archive a favorite memory or photo and sign his online guestbook before coming to the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made to American Cancer Society or the Barry County Animal Shelter.