Wednesday, March 21, 2018
5:30 PM to 7:30 PM EDT
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
7:30 PM the Rosary will be recited.
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.
Battle Creek Veterans Center
5500 Armstrong Road
Battle Creek, MI 49037
Community Volunteer Service (135) - Palliative Care Fund
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Joseph Albert Crookston, aged 96, died March 18, 2018, called home, perhaps, by his wife of 70 years, Millie, who passed away a mere 21 days before.
Joe was born in Newcastle, PA, in 1921, but felt the effects of the Great Depression at a young age as his family had moved to Akron, OH, by the late 1920s. He grew up there with his 10 siblings. He occasionally recounted escapades that he and his brother Tony had as a pair of young toughs taking on any comer. Toughness and resiliency were traits he developed young and valued in those around him.
The love of his country took center stage during WWII. He was sure that “Our Founding Fathers” would have wanted him to defend our Republic, and enlisted in the army. He volunteered for the infantry and was sent to Normandy as a second wave of Allies marched against Hitler’s army. He said little about the horrors he experienced, but credited a medic for crawling onto the battlefield in the Battle of the Bulge and dragging him to safety after he was shot through both knees. He received a Purple Heart and two bronze service stars for his sacrifice.
Joe was a problem solver and a worker. Among other innovations, he recounted that he designed the AJC roofing hatchet with his brother Don. Though never credited with or materially benefitting from the design, he nevertheless was extremely adept at its use. He shingled countless roofs and installed miles of gutters over many years in business with Millie. He worked for and with his family.
He loved babies and was on call at all hours of the night for diaper duty and midnight feedings. After work he loved to have the little ones “pet his old bald head” and then they might get upside down kisses. Fatherhood meant mostly work, with memories of a particularly large box kite that he built from scratch and that flew hundreds of feet in the air, or Joe as “all time pitcher” in family softball and kickball games, or eating any food that one of his kids near him at the table didn’t want and sneaked onto his plate. He enjoyed playing cards with his family and friends, the Welborns, and solitaire when no one was around.
He loved his family and the United States, and prayed constantly for their well-being. The principal builder of two church buildings, he was later active in an effort to preserve the original Latin mass in the Catholic Church. He was a volunteer for many years logging over 5000 hours of service at the Veteran’s Hospital in Battle Creek, MI. He spent his last years being extremely well cared for by the wonderful staff in that same hospital, especially Terry Terpstra whom he admired from his volunteer days.
He is survived by 14 children and their spouses: Sr. Anne Joseph Crookston of Cleveland, Ohio, Joe Crookston and Susan, Jane Middleton and Vern, John Crookston and Linda, Emilia (Amy) Nordquist and Ron, Denny Crookston and Teresa, Martha Pacheco and Ruben, Tim Crookston, Agustin Crookston and Lilia, Fred Crookston and Julie, Mary O’Brien and Patrick, Chris Crookston, and Julie Thomas all of the Kalamazoo area and Margaret Lombard and Brendan of Quincy, Massachusetts. He is also survived by his grandchildren: Todd Middleton, Jennifer Beebe, Chris Middleton, Eric Newton, Keith Newton, Rob Crookston, Bill Crookston, Katie Crookston, Jeremy Joseph Nordquist, Angie Schuster, Brad Nordquist, DJ Nordquist, Miles Crookston, Mackenzie Vandenbos, Scott Pacheco, Lee Pacheco, Peter Pacheco, Gina Pacheco, Madison Crookston, Timothy Lombard, Pearse Joseph Lombard, Mary Helena Nunes, Hannah Crookston, Micaiah Crookston, Isaiah Crookston, Jeremiah Crookston, Hadassah Crookston, Drue Crookston, Carly Kellerman, Shelby Warner, Taylor Crookston, Daniel O’Brien, Brendan O’Brien, Kieran O’Brien, Emilia (Emme) O’Brien, Chris Thomas, Cory Thomas, and Nikki Thomas. He is also survived by his brothers: Jim and Don Crookston; his sisters: Peg Norris and Martha Howard; and sister-in-law Janet Crookston. He had an enormous extended family, and was uncle to over 100.
He is predeceased by his beloved wife, Millie; sister, Helen Rowbottom and his brothers: Bob, Tom, Tony, Al, and Lenny Crookston. He was grandfather to 41 and great-grandfather to 23, and will be greeted in the next world not only by Millie, his one great love and pillar of strength, but by Amy Marie Middleton, Nathan Nordquist, and Elizabeth Nordquist, babies who might be ready for upside down kisses.
Friends and family can visit on Wednesday (March 21, 2018) from 5:30-7:30 PM, where the rosary will be recited at 7:30 PM at the Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive; Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900, where services will be held on Thursday at 11:30 AM. Burial with full military honors at Ft. Custer National Cemetery, Augusta. Please visit Joe’s personal webpage at www.BetzlerFuneralHome.com where you can archive a favorite memory or photo of him and sign his online guestbook before coming to the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made to the Battle Creek Veteran’s Center-Community Volunteer Service, Palliative Care Fund.