Where Food, Drinks & Stories Are Shared

Jim Berry

November 14, 1955 - October 18, 2020
Portage, MI



Friday, October 23, 2020
4:00 PM to 8:00 PM EDT
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
Kalamazoo Location
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
(269) 375-2900

There will be private graveside services at a later date.

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.

Kalamazoo Area Agency onAging
311 Alcott
Kalamaoo, MI 49001
Web Site

Chapel Hill Church
7028 Oakland Drive
Portage, MI 49024
Web Site

ALS of Michigan
24359 Northwestern Hwy., Suite 100
Southfield, MI 48075
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


With a bright smile and indomitable spirit, Jim Berry lived a life rich in family and friends. A man who met each day with an unwavering drive and passion for life, Jim possessed a genuine curiosity about people. He never knew a stranger and greeted everyone as a friend. Always one to lead with his heart, he naturally knew how to read a room full of people and be fully present in a crowd. Jim’s quick wit and great sense of humor often inspired much-needed levity in the face of life’s storms. A proud husband, father, and friend, Jim was revered by many and will long live in the hearts of those he loved.

Jack and Joanne (McGrath) Berry welcomed their son Jim into their hearts and home on November 14, 1955 in Ottumwa, Iowa. The youngest of the three Berry children, Jim grew up with his two older sisters, Karen and Linda. Jim enjoyed a childhood centered on family traditions and values. While his father worked as a Plant Manager for John Deere, his mother stayed home to tend to the family. As Jim became a middle schooler, the family relocated to West Des Moines, Iowa. Jim spent his Ottumwa summers playing golf and developed a life-long passion for the game.

After graduating from high school, Jim furthered his education at Iowa State University, where he became a member of the Delta Tau Delta Fraternity, Gamma Pi Chapter. He went on to earn an MBA while working for Alcoa in Davenport, Iowa. While on a hiking and rock-climbing trip near Devil’s Lake, Wisconsin in 1987, Jim met Barb Heusmann. Barb and Jim nurtured their love of outdoors throughout their lives. Barb introduced Jim to her Golden Retriever, opening Jim’s heart to the many blessings that come with canine companionship. On September 3, 1988, the couple married at Trinity Lutheran Church in Davenport, Iowa, officially beginning their 32-year adventure together.

In 1995, Jim and Barb welcomed their daughter, Nicole, to their family. Eighteen months later, their family was complete when son Josh arrived. The family settled in Portage, Michigan in 1999, when Jim took a job with SPX. Jim and Barb worked tirelessly to create a loving home that afforded their children many wonderful opportunities, including excellent educations and travel. Many treasured memories were made at their cottage at North Lake in Gobles, and the kids fondly remember special trips to Disney and Arizona. The family also spent countless hours at Kalamazoo Country Club, where they swam, played tennis, and celebrated special events in the dining area. They also enjoyed skiing together at Timber Ridge.

As a father, Jim lead by example and proved a powerful role model for his children. As their biggest supporter, he encouraged both of his kids’ endeavors and dreams. He trusted his kids to be successful and allowed space for them to live their own lives. Nicole remembers all of the time they spent together in the car traveling to soccer practices and games. Josh holds dear the memory of the last time they golfed on Father’s Day when Jim shot a hole in one.

Following in his father’s footsteps, Jim possessed an exemplary work ethic and drive for success. He fearlessly pursued his goals with single-minded focus and confidence in his abilities. Along the way, he encouraged others with his passion and belief in their greatness. Always looking for ways to learn and grow, Jim voraciously read motivational and financial books. He loved the stock market and worked tirelessly studying the numbers and strategizing as his own financial planner. A self-made man, Jim was a business partner with Full Service Promotional and later with J&S Machining.

Jim’s accomplishments included running the Chicago Marathon twice and winning the Y-Tri Triathlon in Moline, Illinois. He also took meticulous care of the yards at his home and cottage. He spent this last summer enjoying his hosta garden in his back yard.

In May of 2016, Jim was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). Despite a dire prognosis, Jim responded with a signature drive and determination. He welcomed opportunities to use his experiences to help others and took on a new mission to raise funds for the Susan Mast ALS Foundation by starting the Pedaling for PALS bike ride. With the support of his family, Jim continued to welcome each day as a gift. Even in his final days, he made trips to McDonalds to purchase his Diet Coke. On Sunday, October 18, 2020, Jim’s wife and children lovingly gathered to fulfill his wish to pass in the comforts of his home and their care.

Proudly carrying Jim’s legacy forward are his wife, Barb and his treasured children, Nicole and Josh. Other family members include his mother, Joanne and sister Karen Ferro. Jim was preceded in death by his father Jack and his sister Linda Walker. The family would like to thank his special caregivers, Debbie Johnson and Paula Elam who helped Jim live with dignity during his final years of life.

Friends may visit with Jim’s family on Friday, October 23rd at the Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900. The visitation will be held from 4 pm to 8 pm. Private graveside services will be held. Please visit Jim’s personal web page at www.BetzlerLifeStory.com, where you can read his life story, archive a favorite memory or photo, and sign his online guestbook before coming to the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made Chapel Hill Church, Portage, MI, Kalamazoo Area Agency on Aging or ALS of Michigan Foundation