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Life Story / Obituary
Although he lived a rich and rewarding life, it was easy to see that there was no greater gift in the life of John Dill than his family. He worked hard, but he played hard, too, and he lived the life of a bachelor with a zest for life that was contagious. Although he treasured his role as a father, John really melted when he was surrounded by his grandchildren. Selfless and compassionate, he was the sort of person others knew they could count on. John will be deeply missed, but he leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that will be forever cherished by all who were blessed to know and love him.
During the first half of the 1940s, the eyes of our nation were focused overseas as WWII raged on. Countless young Americans answered the call to serve, and those who remained stateside became familiar with rationing on common goods like coffee, sugar, rubber, and paper. It was during this eventful time that George and Martha (Beyer) Dill were so excited as they awaiting the birth of their new baby as the beauty of spring appeared on the horizon in April of 1942. The big day finally arrived on April 8th when the baby boy they named John William drew his first breath. He was the only child in his family, and his parents adored him. He frequently went golfing with his father who was a great golfer. To support their family John’s father worked at Parchment Paper while his mother focused her time and attention at home. He attended local schools, and in addition to holding down his studies John picked fruit at the orchards along with his mother. He went on to graduate from Kalamazoo Central High School in 1960.
Throughout his life John was known for his strong work ethic. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps Reserves in 1963, and although he served until 1970 he was never activated or deployed. John made a career in the grocery industry. John initially worked as a stocker at the Town and Country in Kalamazoo and later worked at the Vicksburg Harding’s, which was later bought by Felpausch. He worked as the store manager at Town and Country and later became manager of the dairy department. John was great at his job as he was good with people, and he enjoyed his work, too. He was great at keeping all the details straight and made sure the focus of his work was on others first and foremost. John ended up working for Town and Country stores for 24 years, spent six years at Harding’s, and 14 years at Felpausch before retiring in 2003.
There was never anything of greater significance in John’s life than his family. He 1965 he married Cheri Lindquist, and although they divorced in 1980 they have remained good friends and were both very involved in raising their boys, Scott and Jeff. John loved having lunch with Scott on Tuesdays, and he also had Saturday morning coffee at Water Street with his sons and Nick for years followed by a trip to Costco for hotdogs. This was a great time of just catching up on what was going on in their lives. Sunday were reserved for the boys going groceries shopping, which meant he would push the cart, return the bottles and visit with all the people he knew. When they were growing up John loved playing ping pong, basketball, and soccer with his boys, and they even played hockey or soccer in the unfinished basement at times.
He loved being a grandfather, and he was so proud of his entire family. In fact, his fridge was covered with pictures of all his loved ones. John loved having fun with his grandkids, taking them places such as the museum, the bird sanctuary, and South Haven. Since he was retired, he made sure they knew that he was always available. They called him “Papa Juma,” and the name really caught on as several other family members also called him by that name. John and his grandchildren often packed a lunch and stopped at a park while out for one of their adventures. Over the years John really made an impact in the lives of his grandchildren, never missing a sporting event, band concert or school activity, as they spent so much time together. A tender caregiver, John cared for his mother for the last year of her life as they lived next door to one another.
A man of many interests, John lived an active lifestyle. He often golfed from the time he was growing up, and he was on golf leagues at Thornapple Creek and then at Heritage Glen. John even spent some time on a league with his son, Jeff. He attended several WMU basketball games and had season tickets for years. He actually loved all sports as he frequently watched golf, the Tigers, or something else. For years John was an active member at Valley Family Church. When it came to music he loved more classic rock and even some country. Among his favorite bands were the Eagles, CCR, Gordon Lightfoot and the Doobie Brothers, however, American Pie by Don McLean was a favorite while with the grandchildren. Often when playing ping pong with his boys they were listening to his tunes. John’s many dogs were an important part of his life over the years as they were like additional members of the family. He was great friends with his daughter-in-law’s father, Larry, and together they often went out to eat, did senior expos, and also attended many sporting events. They shared many of the same interests and always had a good time.
All who knew John Dill would agree that he was an extraordinary man to know and love. He was genuine, patient, kind, and giving with a door that was always open to anyone he knew. John was so wise and always knew just what to say to help others find the bright side of trying times, and he was also the best listener. Generous with his time, he was there to help whether his family, his friends, or a neighbor. John was an amazing father and grandfather, his life was made complete by the time spent with family and friends, He will never be forgotten.
John W. Dill, of Kalamazoo, died October 18, 2018, in Kalamazoo. John’s family induces his 2 sons: Scott (Jody) Dill and Jeff (Amy) Dill; 3 grandchildren: Hannah, Nicholas and Ashley and former wife, Cheri (Ron) Kiracofe. Cremation will take place. Visit with family and friends while sharing food and refreshments on Tuesday from 5 — 7 p.m. at Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Dr. Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900. Please visit John’s personal web page at www.betzlerfuneralhome.com, where you can archive a favorite memory or photo and sign his online guestbook before coming to the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to VFC for Friday Groceries.