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Life Story / Obituary
All who knew James Siegfried Jr. would agree that he was larger than life. Everything he did, he did with great passion, living life on his terms. Jim absolutely treasured his family. He considered his roles as a husband, father, and grandfather to be his highest calling and richest blessing. He loved working on his home and in the yard. It was only made better when he was wearing his legendary 80s sweatband. Life will never be the same without Jim here, but he leaves behind a timeless legacy that his family will proudly carry on in his footsteps.
The 1960s were an exciting time in America. This was the decade when we elected the young John F. Kennedy as our 35th President of the United States. It was as this decade was drawing to a close that we put the first man on the moon. Amidst these events was a time of great celebration in the lives of James and Elizabeth (Cousins) Siegfried as they announced the birth of the baby boy they named James Emmett Jr. on January 26, 1961. He was all boy as he loved riding dirt bikes, hunting, and fishing with his best friend, Asaph, from a young age.
When he was a teen and young adult, Jim lived life to the fullest. He was very independent, moving out on his own when he was just 14. In order to keep track of him, Jim’s mother made him go bowling every weekend. He was in a traveling choir through St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. Their group even sung for the Queen of England when she visited Ontario, Canada. Jim’s grandpa, Forrest, taught him to hunt, and together they shared a passion for the outdoors.
As an adult, Jim’s hard work was recognized. He finished high school as an adult, graduating from Kalamazoo Central. because he needed his diploma to start working at Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital, following in his father’s footsteps. Jim spent more than 30 years working there before retiring in 2016. He started out as a cook and eventually worked his way up to resident care aide. Jim always treated the residents with respect and genuine empathy. He had an exceptional rapport with them as well as his coworkers who thought he was excellent at all he did and respected him greatly. As a result, he mentored several of his colleagues and helped them achieve their own success. For several years he was a member of American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union No. 652, even serving as union rep and union president. Jim worked hard in order to provide for his family and retired just shortly after his 55th birthday.
There was never anything of greater importance to Jim than his loved ones. In July 1979, Jim met his first wife, Gena. Not only falling in love with her but with her two daughters, Christina and Brenda. They were married in 1988 and welcomed their son, James Emmett III in 1990. Together as a family, Jim loved taking the kids camping, fishing and hunting. He wanted them to love the outdoors as much as he did. As it sometimes goes, Jim and Gena parted ways in 2008. They remained friends and often celebrate holidays together with their children and grandchildren.
In 2011, Jim’s journey was forever changed when he was introduced to Annie by a mutual friend. After much persistence, she finally agreed to a first date. It was a memorable one, too, as Jim ended up leaving in the middle of it because his mother was in the hospital. This gesture really spoke to Annie, and she thought it was so sweet that Jim cared for his mother so much. From that point forward, Jim and Annie were inseparable, and they were married for the last four years of his life. He was also so thrilled to watch his family grow to include grandchildren and was very excited to meet the newest member of the family, Emmett Forest Siegfried on January 21, 2020. Jim was proud of every one of his grandchildren, and he loved sharing his passions with them such as fishing, hunting and camping.
One of his favorite places to be was around his fire pit, and countless memories were made there with family and friends. Big Jim loved gatherings of all kinds. He especially loved spending holidays with his family. The Fourth of July was his favorite, but Christmas Eve was non-negotiable.
When reflecting on the life James Siegfried Jr. it is easy to see that he was the heartbeat of wherever he went. He was always there for his loved ones, no matter the personal sacrifice, and he always gave the best advice. Jim worked hard and was a firm believer in always working to be your best self. With deep devotion to his family and friends, he was a gift in the lives of so many. Jim will be forever missed by all who were blessed to know and love him.
James Emmett Siegfried Jr., of Parchment, Age 59, died Thursday, March 5, 2020, at his home in Parchment after a courageous battle against cancer. Jim’s family includes his wife, Annie; children, Christina (Justin) Thorne of Parchment, Brenda (Joe) Westra of Parchment, and James (Jenny Yeager) Siegfried of Portage; stepsons Paul (Alexis) Geren of Battle Creek, David Mize of Battle Creek, and Roy E. ( Deanna) Flaaen Jr. of Maricopia, AZ; grandchildren Gage and Ahlana Thorne; Tate, Maggie, and Marley Westra; Emmett Siegfried and Danny Torrey; Veronika and Wyatt Geren; and Morganna Flaaen; siblings, Kevin (Linda) Siegfried, Christine (David) Gates, Mary Siegfried, and Delores Siegfried; several nieces and nephews, and lifelong friend, Asaph (Patty) Martin. Cremation has taken place. Visit with family and friends from 5-8 p.m. on Friday (MAR 13) at Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900. Please visit Jim’s webpage at www.BetzlerLifeStory.com where you may archive a favorite memory or photo and sign his online guestbook. Memorials may be made to the Michigan United Conservation Clubs or Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan.