Friday, March 6, 2020
5:00 PM to 7:00 PM EST
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Food and Drinks will be served.
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.
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
262 Danny Thomas Place
Nashville, TN 38105
Gobles Public Schools Foundation
409 N State Street
Gobles, MI 49055
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Reflecting on the life of Jackie Blackwood, words such as vibrant, outgoing, caring, and independent come to mind, yet the word that is most fitting to describe her is selfless. Jackie had a generous heart and loved to gather her family together over the years to share laughter and fun! A treasure in the educational realm, she touched the lives of countless staff, students and their families over the years. Exceptionally generous and caring, she leaves behind a wonderful collection of memories sure to be shared for generations to come.
Jackie was born to Virginia (Maytay) and Louis Papay on October 12, 1944, in South Bend, Indiana. Born a twin to her sister, Carolyn, and a younger sibling to their sister, Jan, her birth brought great joy and happiness into the family home.
Growing up, Jackie’s feisty spirit and fierce independence showed at an early age. She and her twin sister were known to stir up mischief for their older sister from time to time, yet they remained close over the years. Her mother and father were proud to share their Hungarian heritage, especially their special recipes and holiday traditions. Jackie learned and shared some of her favorites over the years with her own family. Her parents modeled for her a strong work ethic and the importance of family. Jackie’s dad was a Western Union manager and her Mom stayed home until the kids were old enough for school and then joined the working world. When it came time for relaxation, her family enjoyed making memories at their cottage on Gravel Lake in Decatur over the years. She fondly remembered spending time on the water; boating, swimming, and enjoying water sports from childhood through her young adulthood. These years contributed to her love of water and the many Lake Michigan beach visits in her later years.
As a young student, Jackie thrived in school and had a keen interest in her studies. An honor society student, she graduated with the Class of 1963 from South Bend Central. Ambitious as well as intelligent, Jackie set off for Western Michigan University with a desire to become a teacher. She completed her undergraduate degree and went on to obtain a Master’s Degree of Education. Throughout her career, Jackie was invested in her students’ love of reading and basic foundational skills. She was well-loved by her staff, students, and parents alike!
Not to be forgotten, however, was the meeting of her life long partner, Kirk Blackwood. While attending a local party, the two of them struck up a conversation. She was immediately drawn to his quick wit and smarts, and the rest was history! After dating a few short months, he proposed to her as they rang in the new year on New Year’s Eve of 1971. They joined in marriage on July 15, 1972, and Holy Family Catholic Church in Decatur was the perfect setting for their intimate ceremony. Together they raised two wonderful daughters, Laura and Sandra.
Active and outgoing, Jackie’s world always included a wide variety of interests. She absolutely loved her chosen career as a teacher and taught at Parchment, Comstock and later Gobles. Jackie taught for over 30 years and in 2007, she retired from her position as a reading specialist from Gobles. Her infectious attitude about learning and ability to connect with students made her job one that she enjoyed for many years! She strived to help each and every student obtain their fullest potential as a learner. In addition to her love of teaching, she also gave her all to her family. Encouraging and loving, her daughters never doubted her love for them. Despite her busy schedule, her family came first as she never passed up an opportunity to attend their sporting events or share in their celebrations over the years. There simply wasn’t anything she wouldn’t do for the two of them.
As much as she cherished her role as a mother, Jackie was blessed when she became a grandmother. Just as she never missed an event for her own children, she carried on that same gusto for her grandchildren by cheering them on from the sidelines and being active in their lives.
Hard to believe that Jackie ever slowed down, but over the years she did enjoy some downtime. She enjoyed traveling with her sister, her daughters, and with many friends. She and Kirk would also engage in a fair amount of traveling including places such as Branson, Missouri. Jackie and Kirk wintered in Florida for a few years but always enjoyed coming back home to be with their family. Some of her favorite trips included attending both summer and winter Olympic games. Though she never played any sports in high school, she was quite the fan and enjoyed watching all kinds of sports on television and in person. She especially loved college basketball and football. Jackie also enjoyed spending time at the casino, and would go on a yearly casino tour around Michigan playing blackjack and roulette. In the warmer summer months, Jackie and Kirk enjoyed week long vacations with the grandchildren; the place they rented was often near the water. These summer vacations were a great way to spend time with her daughters and grandchildren and to build lasting memories for the next generation. There is no doubt Jackie’s heart was full anytime she was surrounded by her family.
When she was diagnosed with cancer in 1988 she never missed a beat! Her determination to see her family grow as well as her continued love of her husband, Kirk, pushed her to put up a strong fight. Jackie had the will to live and continue sharing her love of people and family. Remarkably, she put her illness into remission.
Sadly, her illness returned in 2009 and Jackie continued her tough fight to survive. Despite the challenges she was given, above all else, Jackie loved all people. She never had trouble making friends in any setting. Her friendly smile, warm heart, and genuine listening ear, made her the perfect person to pick for a best friend and companion. May her many special loved ones always treasure the love she shared and the life lessons she taught them; enjoy life, never give up, and love unconditionally.
Jackie Blackwood, age 75, of Comstock, Michigan, died peacefully at her home on Tuesday, February 11, 2020. Members of her family include her husband, Kirk, her two daughters: Laura (Jason) Nemeth and Sandra (Michael) Rysdyk, five grandchildren: Samuel, Lucy, Claire, Maxwell, and Nora and her sister, Jan Papay. She was preceded in death by her twin sister, Carolyn Crook. Visit with family and friends while sharing refreshments on Friday, March 6, 2020, from 5-7 pm at the Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900 where services will be held on Saturday, March 7, 2020, at 11 am. A reception will follow in the Life Story Center. Burial of her cremated remains will be in the Oak Grove Cemetery in Lawton. Please visit Jackie’s personal web page at www.BetzlerLifeStory.com, where you can archive a favorite memory or photo and sign her online guestbook before coming to the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made to St. Jude’s Children Hospital or the Gobles Public Schools Foundation.