Life Story Visitation
Wednesday, April 26, 2023
5:00 PM to 7:00 PM EDT
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Where food, drinks, and stories will be shared.
Life Story Services
Thursday, April 27, 2023
4:00 PM EDT
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
A reception will follow the service in the Life Story Center
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.
Rogel Cancer Center
1500 East Medical Center Drive CCGC 6-303
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-0944
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
A gentle, kind, and generous soul, Janet Wydendorf lived a life rich in faith, family, and friends. Janet led with her heart, embracing every moment as a gift and every person as a friend. She was driven to be of service and gladly gave her time and talents in support of others. An unwavering source of love and confidence, Janet inspired others to see their value. Janet's compassion and empathy afforded a safe harbor from life's challenges and often provided those she loved with much-needed encouragement to persist and thrive regardless of circumstances. A powerful role model for how to live a wholehearted life, Janet inspired all who were blessed to know her. A devoted mother, teacher, sister, aunt, and friend, Janet will long be remembered and so very missed.
1964 found the country staggering through continued Civil Rights uprisings and the war in Vietnam. While a time of turmoil, it was also a year of progress and creative genius. As President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law, The Beatles took the world and America by storm. Beatlemania went into overdrive as they released a series of number-one hits, including "I want to hold your hand" and "All My Loving." Other British groups also found success. The Rolling Stones and The Animals, together with the American Talent of The Supremes and Bob Dylan, many say this was one of the greatest years for music in the last century. It was also the year when a young, passionate, and talented boxer by the name of Cassius Clay won the Boxing World heavyweight championship from Sonny Liston. On January 22, in Dearborn, Michigan, Duane and Jean Lidgey Wydendorf were delighted to welcome their daughter Janet to their family.
The third of four children, Janet's early years were filled with much love and typical sibling squabbles with Steve, Paul, and Curt. Her father was City Clerk for the city of Dearborn, and her mother tended to the house and kids. Janet attended Dearborn Edsel Ford High School, where she performed in the play, The Crucible, and was active in Forensics.
Janet always wanted to be a teacher. After graduating from high school in 1982, she attended Western Michigan University, earning her Bachelor's degree in elementary education. In little time, she landed a job with Portage Public Schools in 1986. Her first positions were at Amberly and Lake Center elementary schools. In time, she settled into Portage Central Middle School, where she taught Math. Though ironic that she became a math teacher as math was her most challenging subject, she thrived in her role. For 33 years, Janet passionately dedicated herself to excellence. Modeling a continuous growth mindset, she was an eager learner and innovative teacher. Her heart was always at the center of her efforts, and she created a safe space for all kids to learn and grow. While she related to all students, she especially liked to work with the kids who struggled. With great care and unwavering commitment, she provided them with the support they needed to be successful in a subject they found challenging. For many students, Janet's patience and persevering confidence proved pivotal in transforming their belief in themselves.
Outside the classroom, Janet's life revolved around family and faith. In 2002, she was blessed to become a mother when her son, Ricky, was born. Entirely devoted to Ricky, Janet relished motherhood and ensured Ricky grew up in a loving and supportive home. Her greatest joy was witnessing his growth at every stage and the awesome adult he is today. She was also a terrific aunt; she adored her nieces and nephews and cherished every moment she shared with them.
The cornerstone of Janet's life was her faith, which she explored and celebrated as an active member at First United Methodist in Kalamazoo, where she made and enjoyed lifelong friendships. In quiet times, she enjoyed reading, especially non-fiction books by bestselling author and one of the world's leading Bible teachers, Joyce Meyer. Through worship, study, and service, Janet embodied the principles of her faith. In every moment, she consciously lived as a reflection of her belief that God loves all people.
Janet also enjoyed the simple and beautiful pleasures of gardening, music, travel, and cheering on her favorite sports teams. With a keen eye and a nurturing hand, she tended to her flowers with great joy and curiosity. Watching her efforts transform into a bounty of blooms proved delightful satisfaction. Listening to her favorite artists, like Cher and Bob Seger, was always a delight, as was any opportunity to attend a live performance. Concerts and musicals were a big part of her life, and she loved attending them with friends and family. Travel was another joy for Janet. Many wonderful memories were made along the way, especially on epic trips to special places like Mount Rushmore, Hershey Park, and Dollywood. Janet was a big Red Wings fan; Chris Chelios was her favorite player.
Diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2019, Janet committed herself to maintaining an upbeat attitude and surviving cancer. She was profoundly grateful for her excellent care at the University of Michigan and took her treatments in stride. Regardless of the challenges she faced, Janet chose faith, hope, and gratitude, inspiring all who loved her to do the same.
Though our days with Janet were far too few, the gift of her steadfast companionship will long live in our hearts and lives. In each moment that we choose hope over fear, embrace opportunities to learn and grow, listen with compassion, and give thanks for our blessings, we celebrate all the ways Janet made the world a better place. In this way, we keep her beautiful, loving spirit alive and inspiring others as she so inspired each of us.
Janet Wydendorf, age 59, of Portage, died on Saturday, April 22, 2023, at Rose Arbor Hospice in Kalamazoo after a four-year journey with pancreatic cancer. Members of her family include her son, Ricky Kienbaum; her three brothers: Curt, Paul (Cheryl) Wydendorf, and Steve (Kim) Wydendorf; nieces and nephews: Tyler, Drew, Kelsey, Kris, Greg, Trever, and Sydney; a grand-niece: Evelyn, and many dear friends. She was preceded in death by her parents.
Please join us at a Life Story Visitation where food, drinks, and stories will be shared on Wednesday, April 26, 2023, from 5-7 at the Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900. A Life Story Service will take place Thursday, April 27 at 4 pm, at the funeral home. A reception will be held immediately following the service in the Life Story Center. Visit Janet's webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories, photos, and sign her guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to Rose Arbor Hospice or Rogel Cancer Center.