Where Food, Drinks & Stories Are Shared

Jean Wiler

December 8, 1944 - March 1, 2024
Kalamazoo, MI


Life Story Service

Saturday, March 23, 2024
11:00 AM EDT
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
Kalamazoo Location
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
(269) 375-2900

A reception will follow in the Life Story Center where food, drinks, and stories will be shared.

Driving Directions


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.

Alzheimer's Association - Michigan Great Lakes Chapter
200 Turwill Ln Suite 6
Kalamazoo, MI 49006
(269) 342-1482
Driving Directions
Web Site

Planned Parenthood
4201 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo, MI 49006
(269) 372-1200
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

Taylor's Florist and Gifts
215 E. Michigan Ave.
Paw Paw, MI 49079
(269) 657-6256
Driving Directions
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


It’d been one year since President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared war on Japan. George and Josephine Schramm of Chicago were on a business trip to Milwaukee, Wisconsin when Mrs. Schramm went into labor, and so Jean’s story began on December 8, 1944 in the Milwaukee suburb of Wauwatosa. Her paternal grandfather was John Schramm, a German immigrant who had a furniture factory and showroom at 930 Rush Street in Chicago. Jean always cherished the furniture she had in her home that was made at his shop. Her maternal grandfather was architect Charles Whitney Stevens, who designed many homes along Chicago’s North Shore. He was a descendent of the inventor Eli Whitney and the great-grandson of Congressman John Stevens who was U.S. Ambassador to Hawaii before it became a state.

Throughout her life, Jean would share stories about the neighborhood gang on Wayne Avenue, roller skating in the alleys, playing outside until the streetlights came on, and walking several blocks to Chicago’s Uptown Theatre for the Saturday double feature with 50 cents in her pocket; 25 cents to get in and 25 cents for snacks. As a teen, the family moved to Park Ridge where she went to high school with the likes of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and actor Harrison Ford. She always joked about Hillary being president of the Young Republicans Club.

After high school graduation, she attended Albion College where she met John Wiler. While at Albion, she was a member of the Delta Zeta Sorority, serving as the chapter president for one year. She was also a member of the homecoming court in 1965 and graduated in 1966.

That summer after graduation, Jean and John were married at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Park Ridge. As it happens, President Lyndon Johnson’s daughter, Lucy, was married in the White House that very same day. Televisions and news stations from coast to coast follow the White House wedding all day, so Jean and John’s friends put a sign on the back of their car that read, “This is Jean, not Lucy!”

Following their Cape Cod honeymoon, they moved to Detroit and Jean got a job at Blue Cross as a Training Specialist. When children started to come along, they moved to Kalamazoo. Jennifer was born in 1970, Jason in 1971, Jonathon in 1974, and Jill in 1977.

While raising a family, Jean earned her Master’s Degree from Western Michigan University. She was a Girl Scout leader for both daughters and, in those days, there was a Dental Auxiliary group of which Jean served as president and educational chairperson, and for three years she was State Educational Chairperson. Her dedication to her faith and community shined as she volunteered to teach Sunday school, served on various church committees, and for fourteen years was landscape chairperson at church. She knew how to gather a large group of volunteers for work days.

As a strong advocate for women’s rights, in the 1980s she participated in the Washington D.C. march for women’s rights. She worked for four years with a group called the “Mad Hatters” who worked with companies to address issues of discrimination. She was the group discussion leader.

Then, with enthusiasm and determination, she formed her own company, Smoke-Free Services. She consulted with businesses to take smoking out of the work place. This was before no smoking in work places was the law. She expertly navigated these challenges. After fifteen years she retired, having earned the respect and admiration of her clients.

At swim meets, soccer games, hockey games, and dance events, Jean was the biggest cheerleader. She lived up to what she taught her children, to “rise up to be more than you can be.” There’s a lot of truth in the line, “When the going gets tough, the tough call mom!”

As friends and family well know, John is a big fan of the circus. What you probably do not know is that Jean loved the ballet. They had an agreement. For every circus Jean went to, John would have to attend a ballet. Ironically, this resulted in Jean becoming a member of Circus Fans of America and John, for many years, purchased season tickets to Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet. It was always a debate as to which one they attended the most.

Jean is preceded in death by her parents and two sons, Jonathon and Jason. Surviving are her husband, John; daughters: Jennifer (Gary) Myers and Jill Maxwell (Joel Ferns); granddaughters: Starla, Ella, Paige, and Sophia; grandsons: Kolton and Nicholas; daughter-in-law, Kim; sisters-in-law: Janice Faulk and Jane (Michael) Stevenson; nieces, nephews, and all of you who were in some way touched by Jean’s life.

Once, when visiting a cousin’s grave in the Santa Rosa California Cemetery, Jean encountered an epitaph on a stone that read:

When I die,

do not throw my ashes to the wind or in the sea,

but bury me and mark the site for all to see,

so that everyone will know I once was here,

and shared my life with thee.

Please join us for a Life Story Service at 11 AM on Saturday, March 23rd at Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo, (269) 375-2900. A reception will follow where food, drinks, and stories will be shared. Following her wishes, Jean will be laid to rest in a private ceremony next to her sons Jonathon and Jason in the Matteson Township Cemetery located near their summer cottage on Matteson Lake. Visit Jean’s webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories, photos, or sign her guestbook. In lieu of flowers, please donate to Alzheimer’s Association or Planned Parenthood in Jean’s memory.