Where Food, Drinks & Stories Are Shared

James "Jimmy Gus" Bieghler

January 11, 1936 - June 13, 2020
Portage, MI


Graveside Committal Services

Tuesday, July 21, 2020
3:00 PM EDT
Mt. Ever-Rest Memorial Park
3941 South Westnedge
Kalamazoo, MI 49008


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

Kalamazoo Gospel Mission
448 N Burdick St
Kalamazoo, MI 49007
(269) 345-2974
Web Site

Kalamazoo Loaves & Fishes
901 Portage St
Kalamazoo, MI 49001
(269) 343-3663
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


When reflecting on the life of James "Jimmy Gus" Bieghler, it is easy to see that he touched the lives of so many in a special way. He was a fun-loving guy who worked hard and believed in giving everything his all. Jim was a family man through and through, and there was nothing that filled him with more happiness than being surrounded by those he loved most. A longtime resident of Portage, the community he loved, he was a stranger to none and a friend to all. Deeply loved, Jim will be forever missed.

It was as the calendar turned to welcome in 1936 that Gus and Freda Bieghler were eagerly awaiting the birth of their new baby. Always one to do things his own way, it isn't really all that surprising that it was in the midst of a blizzard that James "Jimmy Gus" Bieghler was born on January 11th that year. He was the youngest of three as he joined his sisters, Joyce and Janet. Jim’s father was a professional football player soon after the sport was born. He also was a union representative through his work at Kalamazoo Stove Company as well as an inventor while his mother was a gardener who later drove a school bus for Portage Schools.

In many ways, Jimmy Gus was a young boy of his generation. He loved swimming in the lake with his siblings during the summer months, and during the winter they skied and ice skated on West Lake together. Jim was always very athletic and, as a student at Portage High School, he excelled in various sports. He was an all-star athlete as the pitcher on the baseball team, starter on the basketball team, and the quarterback on the football team. Jimmy also loved hockey and became a K-Wings season ticket holder in 1974. He was popular among his peers while in school, good-looking and humble, with a great sense of humor...he had a star quality about him that everyone loved. His love for sports was seen while evacuating during a house fire in the 10th grade, he was sure to grab his baseball mitt. Their family lived in the garage while their home was being rebuilt. Later in life, Jim became a volunteer firefighter for the Portage Fire Department and was very conscious of fire safety.

Jim’s life was forever changed when he met Patricia Dennany when he was a senior in high school. They married, and together they were blessed with the births of four daughters, Judi, Jane, Jill, and Jennifer. They raised their daughters at West Lake in Portage in a home across the street from his parents and where he was raised. Jim loved that his kids could enjoy the same woods he loved as a boy as they were filled with countless trails and the twisted Indian marker tree. He often took his kids to the airport to watch the planes take off. He got a pony named Duke for his girls as they loved horses and took his kids camping to places in Kentucky, Indiana, and Holland, Michigan. In addition to raising their own girls, they also raised several foster children. Although their marriage later ended in divorce, Jim was always grateful for the children they shared. To support his family, he worked hard for Michigan Bell, right out of high school. Jim made his entire career there, retiring after 42 years.

Over the years Jim was one to keep busy. With a lifelong love for hockey, he often took his kids with him to games from 1974 until this most current year. His love for hockey had been passed on to him from his mother, and he loved enjoying it with his kids and grandkids, just as he had loved it with his mother. In 1976, Jim met Betty, who had been working with him at the phone company. In 1982 they were married and welcomed their daughter, Katherine, into their hearts and home. Jim was an animal lover who enjoyed watching all kinds of wildlife in nature. Betty and Jim traveled and socialized together, especially during his retirement years. He also liked fine dining and golfing with the guys. RJ’s Sports Bar was a favorite hangout spot. Jim coached ball throughout his life, and he loved having the opportunity to help Katie with her softball experience. He became very active in Portage Central High School both in coaching and as a hall monitor. Jim was thrilled to become a grandfather and was an active part of his grandson,Nicholas’, life. He was there to support his grandchildren in their many sporting events as he had with his own kids. In total, Jim was a grandfather to eight and a great-grandfather to two, James, Jordan, Ryan, Tori, Nicholas, Noah, Liam, Everley, Alex, and Caleb. He loved planes, and he was so thankful to go up in a bi-plane with two of his grandchildren for his last flight at the age of 82. What an experience! Jim loved watching Saturday morning cartoons and reading the "funnies" in the Sunday newspaper. His hilarious sense of humor always made people laugh. He offered heartfelt advice, wisdom, and guidance to his daughters and grandkids, those lessons will always be remembered.

With unending devotion to his family and friends, James "Jimmy Gus" Bieghler was a blessing in the lives of so many. He knew what it meant to truly live, and his zest for life was contagious to all who were near. He was generous, kind-hearted, and gentle. Jim took his roles as a husband, father, and grandfather to heart, and he was so proud when his family grew to include two great-grandchildren as well. Life will never be the same without Jimmy Gus here, but he leaves behind a timeless legacy that his loved ones will proudly carry on in his footsteps.

"We would like to thank Julie and the wonderful staff at Director's Hall, Heritage Community Assisted Living, for their loving care of our dad in the final stages of his life. We truly appreciate all you do."

James "Jimmy Gus" Bieghler, age 84, died Saturday, June 13, 2020. Jim was preceded in death by his wife, Betty; his sister, Joyce; father, Gus; and mother, Freda. Jim’s family includes his first wife Patricia Roberts; children: Judi (Kevin) Yonkers, Jane (Dan) Jean, Jill (Greg Santora) Bieghler, Jennifer (Derek) Pearson, and Katie Bieghler; 8 grandchildren; 2 great-grandchildren; his sister: Janet Merriman; and many nieces and nephews. Cremation has taken place. A private Life Story service will be held. Interment for both James and his wife Betty will be at 3PM on Tuesday, July 21, 2020 at Mt. Ever-Rest Memorial Park. Visit Jim’s personal webpage at www.BetzlerLifeStory.com where you may read his Life Story, archive a favorite memory or photo, and sign his online guestbook. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions would be lovingly appreciated at Kalamazoo Loaves and Fishes, Kalamazoo Gospel Mission, or Animal Rescue Project. Arrangements by Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo 269-375-2900.