Where Food, Drinks & Stories Are Shared

Jack Simonds

October 2, 1939 - July 7, 2019
Kalamazoo, MI


Time of Sharing

Thursday, July 18, 2019
4:00 PM EDT
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
Kalamazoo Location
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
(269) 375-2900

A reception will follow the service in the Life Story Center until 7 PM, where friends and family can visit while sharing food and drinks.

Driving Directions


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.

Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan
222 N. Kalamazoo Mall, Ste. 100
Kalamazoo, MI 49007
(269) 345-0273
Driving Directions
Web Site

Parkinson Foundation
1359 Broadway, Ste 1509
New York, NY 10018
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


Someone once said that having somewhere to go is home, having someone to love is family, and that having both is a blessing. A simple man by nature, Jack Simonds never asked for much. With his strong work ethic, he provided well for those entrusted to his care. Whether out on the job or at home working in his yard, Jack reveled in a job well done. In fact, nothing brought him more satisfaction than getting his hands dirty and putting in a good, hard days work. He possessed a great, dry sense of humor, was determined and he could even prove to be a little stubborn at times. For these things and so much more, Jack will be dearly missed.

By 1939, Americans were beginning to hope again as the U.S. began to slowly emerge from the Great Depression. “God Bless America” was introduced, and moviegoers everywhere enjoyed the premieres of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” and “Gone With the Wind.” Yet for Richard and Ethel (Graham) Simonds, the birth of their son, Jack on October 2, 1939, was a welcome blessing in their lives.

Born in Kalamazoo, Michigan and raised in nearby Mattawan, Jack was the second of eventually four children who included his brothers, Duane and Don, and sister, Jane. A young boy typical of his generation, Jack had his share of adventures and was into playing sports such as baseball, football, and basketball. Never one to be very rambunctious, Jack tended to be on the quieter side and remained so throughout his life. His parents both worked in local factories and sadly, his father, who was a foreman died at the age of 54 from a heart attack. Life as Jack and his family knew it was forever changed and they banded together during these difficult years.

While attending a high school dance, Jack met the love of his life, Sandy. He was in his junior year at Mattawan High School, and Sandy was a sophomore at Kalamazoo Central. Her girlfriend knew Jack and asked him if he’d mind giving Sandy a ride home, and a romance blossomed. With his sweetheart by his side cruising around in his sleek, 1952 black Ford, Jack became a classic Ford car guy from that point on.

During high school, Jack worked at Spikes Service Station. Throughout this time, he and Sandy continued dating, falling deeply in love. After graduating from Mattawan High School in 1957, Jack went on to further his education at Michigan Tech in northern Michigan with hopes of a career as a forest ranger. However, after a semester he dropped out as he missed Sandy so much. Jack then decided to take some classes at Western Michigan University but soon quit when he landed a job working for the BeMo Potato Chip Company.

On July 11, 1959, Jack and Sandy were happily married at Mattawan Congregational Church and spent their honeymoon at Niagara Falls. The newlyweds lived in Kalamazoo before building their current, longtime home on land they received from her parents in Oshtemo. Built by Jack’s cousin, a contractor, it was also the place where numerous family memories were made and enjoyed.

In 1961, Jack and Sandy’s lives were made complete when they began a family of their own. Blessed with three wonderful children, Michael, Todd, and Jill added much to their lives. As a dad, Jack worked a lot so Sandy was the main disciplinarian. Daughter, Jill summed up her father in good order when describing Jack as a perfect combination of John Walton, Archie Bunker and Red from That Seventies Show. Although with his strong work ethic, Jack had good, common sense, great life skills and could also be described as wholesome. When the kids were young he’d take them to Okun Brothers to buy their one pair of “good” shoes and one pair of tennis shoes. As always, it was typical of Jack to negotiate the price!

After working at BeMo, Jack worked for Ralph Moyle Trucking hauling grapes when he and Sandy were first married. He then started with Consumers Power Company as a mechanic. For a while he was in the tree trimming department, then as a linesman. After 35 years of service with Consumers, Jack retired as lineman in charge. Nicknamed at work as, “Donuts”, he loved his job and the people he worked with.

Jack and his family enjoyed traveling, especially camping. They first set out in their pickup truck camper and somehow managed to fit all five of them in it! They enjoyed going up to Hardy Dam and to Strawberry Lake for weekend fun and relaxation. They took a trip out west to Yellowstone National Park, and after retiring, he and Sandy upgraded to motor homes. In fact, they acquired three different ones over the years. They spent a fun-filled trip on the entire route of the infamous Route 66, and they traveled and camped with friends throughout the years, too. One time they even traveled to Alaska, spending six, wonderful weeks there which was a tremendous highlight for Jack. They were members of motor home clubs all over the U.S. as well as members of New Marr Country Club.

Fishing was one of Jack’s favorite, beloved pastimes, especially at Crooked Lake in Texas Township and Cora Lake in Paw Paw, and he didn’t mind ice fishing, either. He had several local, favorite spots and enjoyed fishing when they went camping and any time he had the opportunity.

Having two barns at his disposal was just what Jack needed to tinker, particularly on his antique cars and trucks. Being mechanically inclined afforded Jack the opportunity to pursue his hobby of refurbishing the vehicles he loved over the years Jack acquired a 1948 Ford, 1964 Falcon Sprint, 1978 Diamond Jubilee Thunderbird, and a 1970 Ford Custom Truck. He thoroughly enjoyed going to car shows, and worked a lot of overtime over the years to fund these extras in his life. It didn’t matter if it was one of his cars, his home, or his yard; Jack took great care in keeping everything he owned in pristine condition. It was natural for him to be protective when it came to his belongings and the things he took pride in and worked hard for.

Jack loved food and could eat nearly anything, especially fish and chips. He especially loved Sandy’s homemade apple pies and lately he seemed to have a sweet tooth for black licorice. His reading routine consisted of the Kalamazoo Gazette and of course, car magazines. When it came to music, Jack preferred old country. He and Sandy enjoyed attending a lot of country concerts over the years. He also liked old classic, country gospel. Along with his love for tinkering and working in his yard, it wasn’t unlike Jack to be listening to a Tiger’s game on the radio.

In 2007, the couple bought a park model at Sun Vista Resort in Yuma, Arizona. They wintered there for years and made many friends. They loved the desert scenery and Jack enjoyed spending time at the pool soaking up a little sun. When Jack was diagnosed with Parkinson’s he had trouble walking and eventually used a walker. A friend would pick him up in a golf cart and take him to the pool to spend some time, then bring him home. In November of 2018, Sandy drove to Yuma for the last time and sold their place in only two weeks.

After being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease four years ago, it began getting harder for Jack to keep up. Ever determined, he did much for as long as he could and although it was frustrating and debilitating at times, Jack persevered sometimes out of pure stubbornness. Throughout his life and into his journey with Parkinson’s, Jack was an example of determination and fortitude in the eyes of his children. As the disease progressed, the care from the wonderful people at Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan was a great help. Sandy promised she would take care of him until the end, and she kept that promise until Jack peacefully succumbed. Gone yet never to be forgotten, the heart of Jack Simonds lives on in the memories of many and he will be forever missed.

Jack Simonds, age 79, of Kalamazoo, died peacefully at home on July 7, 2019, following a long struggle with Parkinson’s. Members of his family include his wife of 60 years, Sandy Simonds; three children: Michael (Sara) Simonds, Todd (Peg) Simonds and Jill (Lynn) Jones; eight grandchildren: Tyler, Andrea (Mike), Lindsay, Jake (Laura), Kyle (Danielle), Charlotte, Gus and Abe; six great-grandchildren: Kennedy, Dylan, Sawyer, Callie, Mason and Allie; siblings: Duane (Julie) Simonds, Don (Eva) Simonds and Jane (Rich) Christensen; many nieces and nephews. Cremation will take place. A Time of Sharing will be held Thursday (July 18th) 4:00 PM at Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900 followed by a reception until 7:00 PM. Please visit Jack’s personal web page at www.BetzlerLifeStory.com where you can share a favorite memory or photo and sign his online guestbook before coming to the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan or to the Parkinson’s Foundation.