Life Story Celebration
Tuesday, December 5, 2023
5:00 PM to 7:00 PM EST
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Where food, drinks (Michelob Ultra), and stories will be shared.
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.
Memorial Bench at Moors Golf Course c/o Tim Hanna
8924 Oakland Hills Circle
Portage, MI 49024
Please make check payable to Tim Hanna or Venmo @tim-hanna-17, as he's overseeing the Memorial Bench. The bench will be placed on hole #6 where Woody had two holes-in-one.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
With a smile and a story to tell, Gregory "Woody" Wood lived a life rich in family and friends. A man who welcomed each day as a gift and every person as a friend, Greg lived life to the fullest. He worked hard, played hard, and continually strove to be his very best at whatever he was doing. Greg enjoyed socializing, learning new things or honing current skills, and he liked using his many skills. He was the inspiration of many good times along the way. A proud husband, father, and friend, Woody will long be remembered and missed by many.
A time of innovation, the year 1957 found the U.S. economy booming. The need for consumer goods grew as manufacturing attempted to keep up with demand. It was the peak of the "baby boomer" era and a time when families prayed, played, and sat at the dinner table together. American Bandstand made its debut while Elvis Presley recorded numerous hits, and the introduction of the Frisbee and Tonka Trucks became the delight of children everywhere. It was a time centered on family and hope. Born on December 5, it seems fitting that Greg would arrive during such exciting times.
Raised in the Kalamazoo/Portage area, Greg’s dad was in the military and worked as a contractor, while his mother was a homemaker. From the get-go, Woody was outgoing, adventurous and full of energy. His high energy sometimes resulted in mischievous behavior at school and plenty of adventure outside of school. Who could forget the time he fell through the sliding glass door at Lee's Sporting Goods and cut his arm so badly it almost needed to be amputated?
Woody attended Portage Northern High School, where he wrestled some and graduated with the class of 1976. After graduating he worked hard at odds-and-ends jobs however his drive to succeed led him to earn his real estate license in 1987. He poured himself into his career listing and selling residential real estate, then owning numerous rental properties, flipping houses, developing residential single-family home and condo communities, as well as investing in the development and building off-campus student housing near Western Michigan University. As his personal real estate portfolio grew, he then started his own property management company (ICON Properties) that has grown and prospered by managing the rental properties of others. It was a good fit. A portion of his rentals and properties with other owners are occupied by college students. The annual August push for all hands on deck due to the intense amount of work, maintenance, and cleaning needed in a few short weeks getting them ready for incoming students, the ICON team continues to run smoothly making sure to honor Greg's bigger than life personality.
A fast learner, hard worker and a very handy man, Woody used his skills to get properties ready for sale or rent and maintain their quality. He often made fun of his friends who couldn't fix things like lighting the pilot light on a water heater yet always willing to help but never hesitating to dog them out. He had a heart of gold and would do anything for his buddies or anyone. His friends were very much his family who he enjoyed sharing his many adventures with, whether it was in his early life sailing in the Caribbean waters, cars, or travel. As he got older, he ventured into running 5 & 10Ks (until his back surgery), then he moved onto white water rafting, riding Harleys, hunting, fishing, and the annual Florida golf trip and his latest 12 year addiction to golf.
While working in real estate, Woody had the good fortune of meeting Peggy, who is also a Realtor. Their relationship began as friends and after knowing one another for several years blossomed into more. On June 28, 1995, the couple married in Traverse City where the minister kept calling her "Patty" so Greg often joked that he wondered if they were ever really legally married, that's Greg's humor. After exchanging their vows they enjoyed a champagne toast on a quiet beach on Lake Michigan.
In 1996, Greg and Peggy became parents with their son, Jonathan, and their family was complete when their son, Michael entered the world in 1998. As Woody didn't have a father figure, it was important that he be a strong presence in his sons' lives. A hard ass, he instilled a strong work ethic and started his boys working with him at the age of nine. They learned manual labor early by cleaning houses, installing hardwood floors, hanging drywall, and cleaning toilets that resulted in many calluses, excellent skills, and clear perspectives on what a day's work looked and felt like. Greg also wanted to take others under his wing and help them succeed whether they wanted to or not, he saw the potential in everyone, even if they didn't see it in themselves.
A man who also understood the importance of balancing hard work with fun, Woody enjoyed a very active social life. The Moors Golf Club in Portage was his second home since joining in 2011. He loved to compete, be with his golf friends, and gamble. He was famous for saying, "You don't have to play good to win, you just have to know how to bet"! He proved to be right more than wrong. Though he wasn't very good when he first took up golf, in time, he became pretty good, always chirping out loud to his foursome while they played. His buddies coined the phrase, you've been "Wooderize" when he would drain a putt or chipping in from off the green for the final win while talking nonstop. He sunk two holes in one on the sixth hole at the Moors and ended his last season of golf with an eight handicap. Known for always wanting to squeeze another nine, Woody invented "The Emergency Nine" when golf league was over but the sun was still out. Then "Tap House Tuesday" became a long-enjoyed tradition that occurred once the bar closed at the Moors, with Woody and the gang heading over to the Tap House Bar on Centre Ave to continue their fun.
Woody had a great memory for people's names and faces and always made his presence known. Woody knew so many people that no matter where he went he would run into someone he knew, or thought he knew, that led to a lengthy conversation reliving old memories or making a new friend, on many occasions this could make him late for wherever he needed to be. From fancy restaurants to local dives, it didn't matter; Woody was recognized as much as he recognized others. He was also known to be a frequent spontaneous guest, you never knew when he might show but he was never turned away. His many outings could be the cause for another Woody story. A famous story came from an annual guys night of cooking, eating, and drinking called, "Man Dinner" while he was being a helpful guest and cleaning up, it ended with the breaking of numerous wine glasses that toppled from his strategic stacking that was knocked over by a not so delicately placed cutting board. After that his gracious and loving hosts never let him forget and so began the running joke and sometimes being offered a drink but not in real glass; he was great at self-deprecation and took it all in stride and had fun. He was also a very kind and thoughtful man, for example, if he knew you were taking your wife to a restaurant, he would call and order a bottle of wine or your favorite drinks to be delivered to your table anonymously but the recipient always knew who was thinking of them. If he wasn't able to tell you Happy Birthday face to face you could expect a text for sure.
A cardio junkie, Woody worked out a lot at the Maple Street Y riding a stationary bike, lifting weights, and playing paddle ball. He listened to a wide variety of music, but his favorite tunes were Jazz, Motown, and country rock. He also played blues on the harmonica and liked to play along with his guitar playing friends. A Fox News fan, Woody enjoyed a good debate. Actually, what he really enjoyed was preaching to others why they couldn't understand the obvious. He never had a story he didn't like to tell over and over but it never got old. His incredibly long-winded tales often resulted in the melding multiple stories into one that always came full circle. They could become so complicated most people would need a flow chart to follow them. Peggy often told him to "get to the point!"
Greg was a spiritual man that found solace in prayer. He was a voracious reader and enjoyed reading books, magazines, and tips involving golf, wine, cooking, self-improvement, as well as motivational materials and anything involving his business or manuals for building or repairing whatever he wanted to work on. After Greg and Peggy's house fire, he confidently and skillfully met the challenges of repairing and remodeling their home, mindful of every penny spent. Since it was in the time of Covid where contractors were so busy they weren't returning calls plus supply chain issues, Greg rallied as always and took on the project himself in spite of his already busy work schedule. One of the toughest guys, Woody's natural strength and good health proved a blessing when he was diagnosed a year ago with a very aggressive form of throat cancer. With Peggy's unwavering support and loving care, Woody continued to greet each day with prayer, determination, and gratitude. His legion of friends were omnipresent and loyal making sure he still made it out whether it was to ride in a golf cart, sit with friends at the Moors, or shop for a 65" tv his wife didn't want.
Though our days with him were not enough, each moment we shared with Woody proved a gift we will long treasure. As we celebrate his wonderful life, may we find comfort in our many terrific memories and in the honor of carrying his legacy forward. In each moment we give our best effort, greet a stranger as a friend, share a hearty laugh, hit the greens, or confidently meet life’s challenges, we keep Woody’s gregarious spirit alive and inspiring others as he so inspired each of us.
Gregory “Woody” Wood died peacefully at his home with his wife by his side on November 28, 2023. Cremation has taken place. A Life Story Celebration will be held on his 66th birthday, Tuesday, December 5, 2023, 4PM at the Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo, MI 49009 (269) 375-2900. A reception will follow where food, drinks (Michelob Ultras), and stories will be shared in the Life Story Center. Visit Woody’s webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite stories, photos, and sign his guestbook. To honor Woody, memorials are being collected for a permanent memorial bench for the 6th hole at the Moors Golf Club, where he had two aces. Please make checks payable to Tim Hanna, 8924 Oakland Hills Circle, Portage, MI 49024 or Venmo @tim-hanna-17, as he is overseeing the memorial bench.