LIFE STORY SERVICE
Friday, May 19, 2023
5:00 PM EDT
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Where food, drinks, and stories will be shared.
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.
SPCA of Southwest Michigan
6955 West KL Ave.
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Quick-witted, hard-working, and big-hearted, Jeff Hamilton lived a life rich in family and friends. Strong in opinion and even stronger in his devotion to loved ones, Jeff knew how to inspire a laugh and the importance of being compassionate. A bit of a smartass, for those who knew him best, Jeff was a light in their lives. He was warm and affectionate and never shied from showing his emotions and expressing his love. He gave awesome bear hugs and never hesitated to tell them, "I love you." A fun and loving husband, father, grandfather, and friend, Jeff will long be remembered and so very missed.
1970 was a year marked by drama. As the Vietnam War escalated, so did the protests. The airwaves were filled with the varied sounds and sentiments of the nation in popular films like M*A*S*H and Catch 22 while the Beatles encouraged us to "Let it Be," and Simon and Garfunkel sang of a "Bridge Over Troubled Water." It was in this vibrant time that the Hamiltons welcomed their son Jeff to their family on April 19 in Saginaw, Michigan.
Jeff's dad worked in the auto business, and his mom was an insurance claim adjuster. Along with his older brother, Lawrence "Scott," Jeff grew up in the Lansing area and in the mid 80’s his family moved to Battle Creek. From a young age, he developed a lifelong love of water sports, including boating and fishing. Seasonal camping at Lake Leelanau with family was a favorite, especially if it included skiing behind Scott's speed boat or riding the other water toys. He played Little League and later swam for Lakeview High School in Battle Creek. Jeff was outgoing and knew how to spark laughter with jokes and teasing; he had lots of friends.
After graduating from Lakeview High School in 1988, Jeff took business classes at Northern Michigan University. Late in his second year at NMU, he decided there was "more to life than school" and left to discover it in Kalamazoo. Jeff worked for Walters Shell Gas stations for a few years. During that same time, he started a lawn care business. He enjoyed owning and operating F&M Lawn Care for a few years. He managed a local Wendy's until securing a management position at the Meijer on Westnedge in 2004. A hard worker with a great sense of humor and a wealth of encouragement, Jeff was well-liked by his coworkers.
For 14 years, Jeff was married to Jennifer Andrus. Without a doubt, the greatest gift of those years together was their two children, Elizabeth and Eric. In 2010, Jeff was lucky to meet his Meijer coworker, Rebecca Williams. They began dating, and on June 11, 2016, they married in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, in a small family wedding. Jeff was happy to welcome Rebecca's two-year-old son, Blake, into his life, and he proved a good father figure for Blake.
Family was everything to Jeff, and he liked to keep things light and fun. He loved to joke around with his wife, but he could be a stinker and required Rebecca to be on her toes. A proud and loving dad, Jeff enjoyed taking the kids camping up north – always the best time. He made sure the kids were comfortable and had a gift for giving worthy life advice. He was his kids' greatest and probably loudest fan, cheering on their every endeavor. Jeff never hesitated to shout loudly from the sidelines of Eric's soccer and flag football games, or Elizabeth's swim meets. Often calling out for them to "Balls to the wall," "Turn on the wheels/jets!" He frequently told Eric and Elizabeth they were the best on their teams and always had solid advice for Blake. He loved playing video games with the kids and watching action and suspense movies, though he usually fell asleep five minutes into the film. His favorite movies included The Incredibles and Top Gun. Jeff loved music of every kind and even got his kids into rap.
Jeff was a man who enjoyed simple pleasures like good meals, holidays, and watching sports. He loved to cook, especially barbecue, and could magically make something delicious from nothing. He especially liked making unique rubs for his ribs. Gathering for holiday meals was another pleasure, especially when the family camped or gathered for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Ever the prankster, he made a tradition of hiding Christmas presents or making them a challenge to unwrap. The 4th of July was all about the fireworks! Determined to put on a great show, he bought a lot of them and lit them off with precision. Jeff was a lifelong fan of Michigan State University sports, the Detroit Redwings, and the Detroit Lions. He collected Barry Sanders' stuff and lots of sports cards.
Blessed to share a close relationship with his dad, Jeff often called his dad at midnight so they could talk while on his way home from work. Jeff dreamed of getting away from all the work responsibilities, enjoying watching Alaska and animal shows, and telling family and friends, "When I get old, I want to live on a farm in somewhere, nowhere." A dog person, once, while on the way up north, Jeff spotted a stray on the side of the road. Without hesitation, Jeff caught the dog. Instantly adopted, "Sammy" found himself in the safety of Jeff's affections. It's no surprise Sammy was the best dog ever.
Though our days with him were far too few, every moment we shared with Jeff is a gift we will long treasure. May we find comfort in our many treasured memories, including Jeff's insistence that we "Be nice to everybody; you don't know what they're going through." May we also find comfort in the honor of carrying his legacy forward. In each moment we gather around a campfire, enjoy a pizza, ensure others' comfort, pull a good-natured prank, cheer on our loved ones' efforts, or hang out with our favorite canine companion, we celebrate the many ways Jeff inspired us. In this way, we keep Jeff's bright and loving spirit alive and inspiring others as he so inspired each of us.
Jeffery Eric Hamilton, died from results of a scooter accident on May 15, 2023. Jeff was preceded in death by his mom, Jean, and his brother, Scott. He is survived by his wife, Rebecca; children: Elizabeth Hamilton and Eric Hamilton; stepson, Blake Wells; grandson, Luca; dad, Larry Hamilton, and his life-partner, Jane McCormick; mother of his children: Jennifer (David) Lane; mother-in-law, Wendy VanNorman; and many friends and coworkers. Cremation will take place. Please join us for a Life Story Service on Friday (MAY 19) 4 PM at Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900. A reception will follow in the Life Story Center where food, drinks, and stories will be shared. Visit Jeff’s webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories, photos, and sign his guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to SPCA of Southwest Michigan.