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Jim Wise

April 11, 1939 - October 4, 2020
Kalamazoo, MI



Monday, October 12, 2020
9:00 AM EDT
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
Kalamazoo Location
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
(269) 375-2900
Driving Directions

Graveside Services

Monday, October 12, 2020
10:30 AM EDT
Ft. Custer National Cemetery
15501 N Dickman Road
Augusta, MI 49012


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.

West Michigan Cancer Center
200 North Park Street
Kalamazoo, MI 49007
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


Humble and kind, James Wise lived a life rich in gratitude for the simple things in life. Jim was a man who enjoyed spending time with family and friends, working puzzles, and tinkering on various projects. He possessed a keen eye for detail and a generous heart. Always willing to lend his time and talents, he relished in being of service to others. Cherished by those he loved, Jim will long be remembered and ever so missed.

Despite the obvious gloom of the growing conflict in Europe, 1939 held much to celebrate, including the end of the Great Depression, the premieres of the classic films Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz, regular television began to broadcast nationwide, and The World’s Fair in New York. As the U.S. actively armed for war, families continued to center their lives in love and hope for a brighter future. Nowhere was that hope more evident than in Kalamazoo, Michigan as Harold and Edith (Crooks) Wise welcomed their son, Jim, into their family on April 11.

Growing up in Kalamazoo, Jim enjoyed humble beginnings that included the good company of his older brother, Ted. Jim attended State High School, where he was the manager of the basketball team.

After graduating with the Class of 1957, Jim studied at Western Michigan University for two years before being drafted into the Army. While in the Army, he became a Wheel Vehicle Mechanic and worked on Jeeps. From there on out he had a lifelong love affair with Jeeps.

After his service to the Army, Jim returned to his studies at WMU and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in General Studies.

In 1967, Jim took a job with General Motors, Pontiac Motor Division. Unfortunately, the day he moved to Detroit was the beginning of the five-day uprising that resulted from the city’s decades of institutional racism and entrenched segregation. Being in the trenches of such a powerful event left a deep impression on Jim.

After living in the Metro area and working for GM for five and a half years, Jim longed for his West Michigan roots. He returned to Kalamazoo, where he remained for the rest of his years. After the deaths of his parents, he moved into his boyhood home.

Never one to demand attention, Jim was content with the simple things in life. A master tinkerer, he liked to work with electrical and mechanical stuff. He loved his Corvette and, later in life, enjoyed traveling on his Harley Trike. Though he never had one of his own, he loved dogs. His favorite place to eat was McDonald’s and he enjoyed all sports, especially baseball and golf.

Jim treasured his friendships and was very close to Mary and Jerry Van Tassel and their family. He even helped build their cabin up north and enjoyed going there to hunt and share the company of the guys.

Jim moved to Bronson Place in May of 2013 where he quickly gained a reputation as, “the Puzzle Master.” He enjoyed the community and especially liked the heated garage where he could keep his car and his Harley Trike.

For the past few years, Jim battled cancer. He received excellent care from the providers at West Michigan Cancer Center and his final days were spent in the comforts of Rose Arbor Hospice.

Jim Wise, age 81, of Kalamazoo died on Sunday, October 4, 2020. Members of his family include his nephew, Tom Wise; his niece, Sue Marks; and his lifelong friend, Win Howard. He was preceded in death by his parents and his brother, Theodore Wise.

Visitation will be held from 9AM-9:45AM on Monday (OCT 12) at Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900. Committal services with military honors will take place at 10:30AM at Fort Custer National Cemetery. Please visit Jim’s personal web page at www.BetzlerLifeStory.com where you may read his life story, archive a favorite memory or photo, and sign his online guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to the West Michigan Cancer Center where Jim received excellent care from the nurses.