Life Story Visitation
Monday, January 17, 2022
11:00 AM to 1:00 PM EST
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
Paw Paw Location
60900 Michigan 40
Paw Paw, MI 49079
Food, drinks, and stories will be shared.
Life Story Service
Burial will follow at Almena 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
A born adventurer, Gregory John Woodhams, lived a life rich in family and friends. An honest, creative, and generous man, Greg lived a whole-hearted life, embracing each moment. Greg lived by the core values of honesty, hard work, family, and love for the outdoors. He approached everything from the firm foundation of these values. Never one to demand the spotlight, Greg faced life with tremendous awareness and humility. He felt deeply, sincerely, and with beautiful sentimentality. He welcomed life’s joys with gratitude and met its challenges with quiet strength. Greg’s family was his world, and he devoted himself to their good care. A loving husband, father, son, brother, and friend, Greg inspired everyone who was blessed to know him.
The year Greg was born, 1971, was a year of many exciting new possibilities. National Public Radio (NPR) broadcasted for the first time, Walt Disney World Resort opened in Florida, and the 26th amendment lowered the voting age to 18. Amtrak, Federal Express, and Greenpeace came into being in 1971, and with the invention of the Microprocessor, the year marked the start of the digital age we now know. There was renewed hope for the future in Southwest Michigan, as the Woodhams welcomed their son Greg into their hearts and home on December 1.
The youngest of the six Woodhams kids, Greg grew up in an active home centered on family values. Greg’s parents created a wonderful world for all the kids. Along with his older siblings, Julie, Becky, Pam, Bill, and Penny, Greg’s unique gifts were encouraged and supported. As a result, he flourished. Greg had a great childhood which included many outdoor adventures. He attended local public schools, and his natural gifts as a creative were always evident. From the start, Greg possessed keen senses that inspired his ability to create beautiful works of art. His talents included drawing and playing the piano. Though never formally trained on the piano, he played from his heart and filled the home with beautiful classical music. Then he fell in love with three-wheelers, dirt bikes, and hunting and fishing as his passion for nature and the outdoors continued to grow.
Greg first came to know the love of his life, Jill Doornhaag, while taking 10th-grade Chemistry when he and Jill were paired as lab partners. They quickly became sweethearts, attending prom and walking graduation together. After graduation, in 1990, they went their own ways for a few years. Once they reconnected, they both realized they were forever. Greg, who was a quiet person, rarely engaged in small talk. Instead, when he spoke, he spoke mindfully. He was a private romantic who held old-fashioned values, which included seeking Jill’s parents’ permission for her hand in marriage. With their blessings, Greg proposed to Jill on March 8, 1996, her 24th birthday. He gave her the VHS of Cinderella and asked her to be his wife. Surprised and honored, Jill said, “yes.” They exchanged their marriage vows on August 29, 1998, in a wedding ceremony at United Methodist Church on H Ave in Kalamazoo. They celebrated with family and friends and enjoyed a romantic ride in the carriage built by Jill’s grandfather. They smiled as a beautiful Belgian draft horse pulled the carriage.
After enjoying their honeymoon, caving and hiking at Mammoth Caves, the newlyweds returned home and settled into married life. As they built their life together, Greg continued to honor his creative gifts. He loved working with wood and creating beautiful works of art. With a great eye and keen instinct, his works were visionary and awe-inspiring. He created a rustic furniture piece that was entered in ArtPrize. Greg had a passion for invention and created a number of unique items including an outdoor seat, a belt accessory and a buck wagon to pull behind a four wheeler. As a licensed contractor Greg designed and built furniture, barns and homes for over 20 years. When he built a house for his sister, he used a black walnut tree from her backyard to make a one-of-a-kind staircase and jewelry box; both are true works of art and priceless treasures.
Without a doubt, Greg’s greatest joy was his daughter, Ginger. She was his heart’s delight, and he relished being the best dad. He supported Ginger in every possible way. Whether practicing basketball, running a 10K, or taking trips, Greg was fully present and enjoyed spending time with Ginger. Greg particularly enjoyed finding ways to make the ordinary extraordinary. On hikes, he showed and explained things, often highlighting the history and natural beauty of the surroundings. Birthdays and holidays were often over the top. Once, he filled a room with balloons. Another time, he created a wall Ginger had to break through to get to her presents. When she turned 12, he gave her a go-cart, and he once built a tepee outside by the pond. Greg ensured that Christmas included an enormous tree he cut down, a houseful of family, and, when snow allowed, sledding on Christmas Eve. Greg also shared his love of animals with Ginger. Together, they rescued their dog Banjo and their cat Quin.
Greg loved searching for treasure at flea markets and estate sales. It was one of the places where his love for history and his gift for seeing beauty and value seamlessly merged. His barn is filled with a vast collection including a wooden decoy duck, farm implements and artwork. He continued to love hunting, fishing, and enjoying nature, his entire life. He preferred bow and arrow and traveled to Canada on several fishing trips with his Dad and brother. As in his youth, motorbikes and ATV were always a source of fun. He later purchased an enduro bike to explore one of his greatest loves, Northern Michigan. Greg was also skillful with mushroom hunting and metal detecting. Recently Greg initiated a sign campaign to Save Hayden Creek from wastewater dumping. This preserved the creek near their house, in the community he so loved and supported.
Sadly, Greg was diagnosed with lung cancer which spread to his brain and lymph nodes two years ago. With signature grace and quiet strength, Greg met the challenges of fighting for more time with his family. He made the most of every moment, continuing to be active, hiking daily with his dogs and creating special memories with Jill and Ginger. He pushed himself to run a 10K with Ginger, continued to work on his patents, bought a boat online to take his girls out on Lake Michigan, and built a charming barn at his home. On January 12, 2022, Greg took his final breaths much the way he preferred to live, in the quiet comforts of his beautiful family. Clearly, our days with Greg were far too few, and his absence will long be felt by those he loved. May we find comfort in our many treasured memories and in the honor of carrying his legacy forward. With each moment we give of our gifts, share the beauty we sense with another, carefully give of our words, enjoy nature’s splendors, or relish in each moment with our loved ones, we celebrate the many ways Greg gifted our lives. In this way, we keep his spirit alive and inspire others as he so inspired each of us.
Proudly carrying Greg’s legacy forward are his beloved wife, Jill Woodhams; cherished daughter, Ginger Woodhams; parents, Bill and Mary Woodhams; siblings: Julie (Tom) Richardson, Becky (Tim) Salach, Pam (Hugh) Sanchez, Bill (Cherie) Woodhams, and Penny Woodhams; in-laws: Carolyn Doornhaag and John (Paula) Doornhaag; and many nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Visit Greg’s webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories, photos, and sign his guestbook. Memorials may be made to Huron - Manistee National Forest. Betzler & Thompson Life Story Funeral Homes, 60900 M-40, Paw Paw (269) 657-3870.