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.
Birds and Beaks Rescue and Rehab
Battle Creek, MI 49017
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
1830 S. Westnedge
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
Taylor's Florist and Gifts
215 E. Michigan Ave.
Paw Paw, MI 49079
Life Story / Obituary
James “Jim” Buck was a spirited person to know and to love. He lived his life fully by extending himself selflessly to others over the years. He leaves behind a wonderful collection of memories that will forever be remembered by his loved ones.
So much of our nation’s history was characterized by the year 1941. Roughly seven months before that fateful attack by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor, Elmer and Angeline (Saggio) Buck welcomed home their newborn son, James, on May 21st in Kalamazoo, Michigan. With Franklin D. Roosevelt leading the United States into unprecedented times, Jim’s early years brought great joy and promise during an era of great change.
Growing up on the north side of Kalamazoo, Jim lived a typical childhood of the times. He and his family were blessed to live on Pitcher Street next to Grandpa and Grandma Saggio. He and his sister, Rosalie, spent their time swimming in local lakes as well as going on picnics. A highlight of these years were the memorable fishing trips he shared with his grandpa. Born with a curious mind, Jim loved immersing himself in encyclopedias at a young age. He enjoyed the time spent walking to Lincoln Elementary School with his mom. The two of them shared a special bond. The family later moved out to Westnedge and DeHaan where he attended Portage High School. As a brother, Jim once skipped school to bake his younger sister, Rosalie, a birthday cake for her Sweet Sixteen birthday! She remembers that Jim's good looks and charm, as well as his dark eyes and hair made it easy for her to get girl-friends wanting to stop by the house during these years. Jim was a wealth of knowledge and had a zest for learning, yet overall was unsatisfied with school. He left to enlist in the Army. He spoke fondly of his years and was proud to serve as a paratrooper, jumping from airplanes during his time in the service. He even went as far as obtaining his pilot’s license.
Beyond his time in the military, Jim married and raised a family. His first wife, Ann Tackett, who he had two wonderful children with, Michael and Valerie. Years later, he married Susan Davis, and had their daughter, Megan. As a dad, he was very encouraging. He supported his children in their many endeavors. When Jim was curious about something he latched on until he was satiated, something that he instilled in his youngest in particular. Jim lived vicariously through his children and looked forward to every special event and celebration. He always encouraged them to follow their dreams. He modeled living his life to the fullest.
Jim was a proud member of the Local 7 Sheet Metal Workers Union. Driving around much of southwest Michigan he could tell you stories about building crucial pieces of history. But after taking his retirement he equally enjoyed his playtime. Jim held a wide range of special interests. He had a strong passion for animals of all kinds. Over the years, he surrounded himself with many opportunities to be around them, even hand raising goats and rabbits for his daughter’s 4-H projects. His love of music from his early years of playing trumpet as a child, later sparked an interest in playing cello, well into his 60’s. Jim obtained season tickets to the Battle Creek Symphony along with the Brass Band of Battle Creek and many others. Although he never played sports, Jim was an avid European soccer fan. Fit and active during his sixties and even seventies, he enjoyed playing tennis and cycling. He took many group cycling trips, including biking the entire length of Florida. When he wasn’t being active he was a prolific artist. He took many art classes at Kalamazoo Valley and dabbled in painting with oils, acrylics, and watercolors. He even enjoyed charcoals and ink drawings. Painting became a favorite pastime. His love of art inspired trips overseas to many European stops, yet Greece was his favorite destination. He fully experienced life and never took a single moment for granted.
Above all else, Jim loved people. Selfless as well as compassionate, he helped at the Gospel Mission during Thanksgiving meals. He found great joy in getting to know others and listening to their stories. Described as a hard worker, dependable, and patriotic, Jim gave his all to anything he put his mind to doing. He never turned down an opportunity to surround himself with the things and the people he loved. There is no doubt that Jim will be deeply missed and lovingly remembered by his many special friends and loved ones for years to come. The last three years were spent living a life not conducive to his spirit after suffering several severe health setbacks. He is finally at rest.
James R. Buck, age 81, of Battle Creek, MI, formerly of Kalamazoo and Climax, died April 17, 2023, at his home. He was a veteran of the United States Army and retired as a sheet metal worker. He was preceded in death by a son, Michael Buck; and a nephew, Robert Hunt. Surviving are two daughters: Valerie Buck and Megan Buck; two grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren; former wife; Susan Davis, and sister; Rosalie Betzler. Cremation will take place and private services will be held with burial at Mt. Olivet Cemetery. Visit Jim’s webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories and photos and to sign his guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to Birds and Beaks Rescue and Rehab. Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo, MI 49009 (269) 375-2900.