Where Food, Drinks & Stories Are Shared

Joe Tourney

February 29, 2000 - December 22, 2020
Kalamazoo, MI


Life Story Gathering

Monday, December 28, 2020
4:00 PM to 7:00 PM EST
Live Stream
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
Kalamazoo Location
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
(269) 375-2900
Driving Directions

Funeral Mass

Tuesday, December 29, 2020
11:00 AM EST
St. Mary Catholic Church
939 Charlotte Ave
Kalamazoo, MI 49048

Private burial will follow.



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.

St. Mary Parish
939 Charlotte Ave
Kalamazoo, MI 49048
(269) 342-0621
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


Firmly rooted in his Catholic faith, Joe Tourney devoted his life to embodying the principles he believed in. With an open mind and loving heart, he embraced life fully, allowing it to unfold in front of him. He trusted the Divine Design, regardless of whether it was clear or not. He knew his faith provided a guiding light and path forward. Joe also freely gave himself in service of others, never hesitating to help lighten another's load and exemplify what it is to live a wholehearted life. Though our days with him were far too few, the gift and fullness of Joe's life will long encourage those who were blessed to know him.

As the year 2000 inspired a period of innovation and hope, the world had much to celebrate. While we witnessed the grace of Pope John Paul II praying for forgiveness of the sins of those involved in the Holocaust during his visit to Israel, we also watched with curiosity the first crew to live on the International Space Station. We celebrated Tiger Woods becoming the youngest player to win a Grand Slam in Golf, Sony's release of the PlayStation 2 Gaming Console, and mobile phones becoming smaller and more available for all. The inherent hope of the new Millennium was even greater for Paul and Beth (Lopez) Tourney as they welcomed their son Joseph on February 29, in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Growing up in West Michigan, Joe enjoyed a childhood rich in family traditions. He shared a close relationship with his brother, Michael, who was his first and best friend. The pair did everything together, especially fishing and golfing. Michael was his biggest fan who honored Joe's natural cautiousness while also encouraging him to break out of his shell a bit more. Deeply devoted to his faith, Joe was very close to his church family. His priests were excellent mentors and, with their help, Joe discovered a healthy balance of comfort and confidence through the Lord and his church. Joe even considered joining the clergy. His parochial schooling supported his faith studies, and he was a proud graduate of Hackett Catholic Prep High School.

Joe was obedient and committed to doing the right thing for the right reason. Though serious about his path, he also knew how to enjoy himself. A dedicated Red Sox and New England Patriots fan, he passionately cheered on his favorite teams! He was so excited to visit Fenway Park in Boston with his dad, he proudly dressed in Red Sox hat and jersey, he had his glove ready where they sat next to the Red Sox dugout. As fate would have it, he even caught a foul ball. His mother took him and brother to a Tigers game when they played the Red Sox. Joe also loved playing the game himself and participated on his little league and high school teams.

Among his many hobbies, he relished cooking with his mom, trying new recipes, and experimenting with different tastes with excitement as he recently became a vegetarian. He possessed a natural thirst for knowledge, especially history. He delighted in listening to his Grandma Tourney reminisce stories of the war when she served as a nurse in the Army. He intently listened to her tell stories about his Grandpa Tourney fought in the Korean war as a tail gunner, that made Joe felt so proud of his grandparent’s serve our country with brave and courageous hearts. He also enjoyed watching the History Channel for glimpses into the past.

A natural musician, as a 5th grade student, Joe picked up a trumpet for the first time. He knew right away it was the instrument for him. He played with passion and skill and thoroughly enjoyed participating in his high school Jazz band. More recently he learned to play guitar. He acquired his first bass guitar and amplifier just last year as his 19th birthday present. He was so proud to strum a tune or two for his friends and family.

Without a doubt, Joe was a deeply devoted son, brother, grandson, cousin, and friend. He treasured his relationships and tended to them with great care. In his enormous heart, all were welcome and afforded safe harbor. Joe possessed a wisdom that exceeded his years and a spirit that was bigger than life itself. Whether cheering on his friends' endeavors, navigating the latest Play Station game with his buddies, supporting his alma mater, or exploring his faith, Joe embraced each moment as a gift and every person as a friend. He approached the world with wonder, exploring other cultures with enthusiasm and respect. He enjoyed trying new foods and traveling to new places. He was fascinated by France's Eiffel Tower and will never forget a little boy named Tom, who became his friend. Joe taught him how to play catch with a baseball while vacationing at a beach resort in Southern France. Joe loved the tropics of the Philippines as well and embraced meeting relatives while traveling in London, Canada, and Dubai. He recognized his good fortune in being able to travel the world with his parents and the privilege of witnessing other cultures.

Joe enjoyed the outdoors. As a toddler, his mother would catch him in the yard observing bugs, while playing with them. He was a Star Scout with Troop 224 in eighth grade. He loved every camp, enjoyed time with his troop, and appreciated all the dedication and leadership of his troop masters from whom he learned many outdoor survival skills. Joe’s father took him along with his brother to Jamaica for a vacation where he immersed himself and fed his curiosity about the people and culture while enjoying Jamaican food. He and his brother learned how to scuba dive in open water, earning their certifications in the summer of 2016.

Clearly, Joe's sudden departure leaves us stunned and short of breath. While it is beyond words to imagine life without Joe's steadfast presence, may we find comfort in our many treasured memories of the young man we were privileged to know. May we also find the courage to carry Joe's beautiful legacy forward and, above all, faith and peace from the Holy Spirit. With every moment we choose our faith over fear, bear hug we share, Metallica or Nirvana song we jam to, and kindness we extend to another, we keep Joe's spirit alive, inspiring others as he so inspired us.

Joe Tourney, age 20, died unexpectedly on December 22, 2020. Surviving are his parents, Lilibeth Tourney and Paul Tourney; his brother, Michael Tourney; and his grandparents: Jose and Gregoria Lopez, and Agatha Tourney. A Life Story Gathering for family and close friends will be held 4-7PM Monday (DEC 28) at Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Dr., Kalamazoo. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated 11AM Tuesday (DEC 29) at St. Mary Parish, 939 Charlotte Ave., Kalamazoo. Visit Joe's personal webpage 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 St. Mary Parish, Kalamazoo.