Where Food, Drinks & Stories Are Shared

James "Jim" Smith

June 29, 1966 - May 1, 2021
Kalamazoo, MI



Wednesday, May 5, 2021
12:00 PM EDT
Fennville Cemetery
5897 124th Ave
Fennville, MI 49408


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.

Animal Rescue Project
219 Peekstok Dr
Kalamazoo, MI 49001
(269) 492-1010
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


If there was one thing that made Jim Smith genuinely happy, it was the joy and love he felt for his family. There wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do for those he loved. Over the years, in small and large ways alike, he showed his devotion in ways all his own. Jim lived a life of faith and was a hardworking man who provided well for those entrusted to his care. Ever kind and loyal, he was a happy guy who enjoyed bringing laughter to the days of others. Although gone much too soon from love’s embrace, Jim’s memory lives on in the hearts of those who knew him best.

Jim’s story began in the midst of a turning point in America. Color televisions were quickly gaining popularity and shows such as Batman and Star Trek became pop culture icons. Hot Wheels and Twister entertained families, the infamous mini-skirt and vinyl wardrobes were the cool thing to wear, and the introduction of Pampers disposable diapers brought welcome relief to mothers everywhere. This was especially true for the parents of James Smith, who was welcomed into his bustling household on June 29, 1966.

Born and raised in the Fennville area of Michigan, Jim was the youngest of five children, joining his older siblings, Janell, Annette, Teresa, and Glenn who always gave him a hard time for being the “baby” of the family. One time, with the help of his brother, Jim accidentally cut the tip of his finger off on a bicycle chain. From then on, that finger was referred to as, “Stubby.”

A young boy of his generation, Jim experienced boyhood adventures with neighborhood friends, as he loved riding his bike until dark and even found his share of mischief a time or two. He attended the local schools and went on to graduate from Fennville High School. Jim had a love and appreciation for music his whole life through. He played the trombone in school and was awarded the John Philip Sousa Award for his achievement. Introduced in 1955 to honor the top student in the high school band, the award recognized Jim’s superior musicianship and outstanding dedication, for which he was truly honored. He continued playing throughout his adult years and even played in the Otsego Community Band for a time.

Jim loved the open road. Whether for work or pleasure, he enjoyed being behind the wheel. He particularly loved drives up north. His chosen career, Jim worked as a truck driver for many years, eventually becoming a fleet manager for Woodworth Incorporated. With his easygoing and kind personality, Jim’s co-workers loved him and his sense of integrity. They knew Jim was a trucker at heart, just like them, before he ever became their boss. Jim advocated for his fellow truckers and went above and beyond to make their work experience fair and tolerable all while showing his appreciation for them.

The dating site, Christian Mingle, was an unexpected yet integral part of Jim meeting his forever love and life companion, Angela. They chatted on the phone effortlessly for hours. Angela knew instantly Jim was her true best friend, which took her a bit by surprise. There was no doubt in Angela’s mind that Jim was honest and caring, and he won her heart. After talking on the phone for a month, Jim broke his three-month waiting to meet rule, and they shared their first actual date. Things were going so well, Jim casually asked her to marry him! After several more dates and introducing him to her family, Jim formerly proposed, down on one knee, ring in hand, at sunset on the beach. Her answer was “Yes!” A second marriage for both of them, Jim and Angela married on the beach at Lake Michigan. Noticing beforehand how many stones poking out of the sand, in Jim’s usual and loving fashion, he cleared them all out of the way, making a safe path for his beautiful bride.

Jim was fiercely loyal and displayed unwavering and selfless love for his wife and kids. Extremely proud of his children, Brieanne’s college graduation, Devone’s degree as a Registered Nurse, and Breanna’s high school graduation were highlights for him. As a father, Jim sacrificed and gave everything he had to provide for his family. He never held back his affection and pride for his girls, and in him they found a profound example of fatherly love and dedication. In fact, the word “love” barely scratched the surface. He never thought his heart could hold any more love as it did for his kids…until he became a grandfather. To his sweet Anyah he was and will forever be “Papa.”

Jim enjoyed many interests. He was quite skilled at flying his drone. When Jim and Angela would take their annual trip up north to Cross Village he would enjoy taking new drone videos of their special beach spot and the beautiful fall scenery. Quite talented, he also enjoyed woodworking. It became much more than a hobby over the years. He refinished furniture and even crafted their bed. All Jim needed was a photo to work from and he could likely build it. He also built a pergola and a large gazebo to show his love for Angela. Jim and Angela would spend many hours sitting outdoors in the backyard on their swing enjoying being in each other’s company. He also shared special times birdwatching with his granddaughter. It was Papa and Anyah’s special habit to fill the many bird feeders ensuring there was always plenty of feathered friends to entertain them. Jim was such a big kid at heart and he loved Christmas. To Jim, Bronner’s Christmas Store was the happiest place on earth!

Jim was the chief cook of the family. He liked grilling and always made delicious dishes, but he was his own worst critic as well. Jim also appreciated a good “chick-flick” and liked romantic comedies especially his favorite, Somewhere in Time. Although King Arthur and 300 were both included in his favorites too. Music continued to sooth his soul and he was particularly fond of the big band, Yiruma, and anything that featured the instruments over the lyrics. He had a special love for animals, having had six dogs and two cats. At one point he built a beautiful aquarium for their tropical fish, and he loved his cockatoo, much to the chagrin of the rest of the family as it was quite vocal!

Jim lived a life of faith, and it was not just an important part of Jim’s life, but it made him who he was. A man that loved Christ and strived to live like Christ. This was evident in the way he treated and served others. Jim was sensitive and compassionate, and he was a good man. His patience and kindness came without measure as he placed the needs of others before his own. Family and friends can attest that Jim loved without end. He always made his family feel safe, and making people laugh and sharing their joy was paramount to him. These legacies Jim leaves behind will forever be etched in the hearts of those who had the honor of knowing and loving this special man. For these things and so much more, he will be deeply missed.

James “Jim” Bedford Smith, age 54, of Kalamazoo, died on Saturday, May 1, 2021. He was preceded in death by his parents. Surviving are his wife, Angela; daughters: Brieanne (Bobby) Maya and Devone (Travis) Dinse; stepdaughter, Breanna Murphy; granddaughter, Anyah Dinse; siblings: Janell Macias, Annette (John) Francis, Teresa Smith, and Glenn (Donna) Smith; and several nieces and nephews.

Funeral services for Jim will take place at 12:00 PM Wednesday, May 5, 2021 at Fennville Cemetery, 5897 124th Avenue in Fennville. Please visit Jim’s webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com where you may read his Life Story, share a favorite memory or photo, and sign his online guestbook. Memorial donations may be directed to Animal Rescue Project. Arrangements by Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900.