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Life Story / Obituary
Loyal, hardworking, and a man of integrity are all ways to describe Josh Beilby. His spark for life was contagious, and it was pretty much impossible not to love him. He was a thoughtful husband, a caring father, and a cherished friend to many. We will never forget him.
Josh's life began in 1979. Abroad, China created a "one child per family" rule. In America, President Jimmy Carter served as the 39th leader of the country. Movie-goers were excited to see Clark Kent become the superhero "Superman" on the big screen, and family room televisions tuned into "Three's Company," "Diff'rent Strokes," and "M*A*S*H." A music enthusiast could also purchase the new Sony Walkman (at the bargain price of $200!) and blast the Village People or Michael Jackson. It was a remarkable year to round out the 70's decade.
In the city of Kalamazoo, Michigan, Thomas and Penny Beilby were looking forward to spring and new beginnings. On March 12, 1979, they welcomed their precious son, Joshua Thomas.
In the beginning, he was destined to be the big brother to two little brothers; Joel and Stephen helped create the typical childhood memories. They shared some amazing adventures, a few tears, and kept their parents very busy. Thankfully, his mother stayed home to keep the peace while his father worked as a lineman at Consumers Energy to support the family. The family established roots in the city of Parchment for most of Josh's youth.
Throughout his early years, Josh participated in many sports including soccer, little league, and rocket football. His love for outdoor athletics expanded into the world of hunting and fishing. His dad was a knowledgeable teacher being that he was also an avid outdoorsman. Six years ago his dad and stepmom Leslie purchased a cabin located in the Marquette area. The cabin became home base for hunting camp and hosting annual family vacations, and this became one of Josh's favorite places.
Joshua attended Parchment Public Schools for most of his academic career. During this time, he played the coronet in the school band. For his senior year, he chose to attend a home-school program that suited his needs better than the traditional classroom.
After enduring his teen years and high school challenges, he worked at several odd jobs, however, his favorite was working alongside his Grandpa Tom. Josh considered his grandfather one of his best friends, and he cherished the times they shared at this time in his life.
Becoming a father was one of the best life gifts Josh ever experienced. He celebrated the birth of two beautiful children; Taylor and Greg made their father most proud. He expressed that one of the hardest things about his illness was not being there for them in the years to come but his loving spirit will always remain within their hearts.
Josh eventually obtained a job working at Bronson Methodist Hospital, where he worked in the reprocessing department. He took great pride in his job and absolutely loved the people he worked with. His peers appreciated his dedication and nominated him for the President’s Team Award which he was awarded. They considered him a great worker and a better friend.
Within the last couple of years, Josh's life took some sharp turns. One of these turns led him to find the greatest love of his life. In January 2018, he took a leap of faith to meet Monica Wolverton at Burdick's following some communication via texts and the internet. That lunch date was perfect, and everything just felt right. Soon after he met Grace and Emma, making a great first impression by bringing them pizza and ice cream: it was like it was meant to be. Ultimately, their connection was immediate and undeniable. They both wanted to take it slow, but it was apparent they were just meant to be together. Rather than hesitate with what was inevitable, they set a wedding date. On August 17, 2018, the happy couple became Mr. and Mrs. Beilby at the Kalamazoo Court House. Josh's father was his best man (returning the honor as Josh was his best man as well). Friends and loved ones rejoiced in their happiness with a reception party at Aunt Deb's house.
The newlyweds also celebrated the merging of families. Grace and Emma, Monica's daughters, completed the Beilby family. Josh wore his love on his sleeve for Monica. He would make her lunch, surprise her with unexpected love notes, and leave chocolates. When he worked the night shift, she would wake to a screen of loving texts along with the special almost daily text which popped up simultaneously with her alarm: "Good morning, BEAUTIFUL!"
When Josh wasn't professing his love or planning something sweet for his bride, he found many ways to entertain himself and those around him. He adored his children. He was the playful type; he would wrestle with the kids, kayak, toss the football around, cannonball into the pool and jump in mud puddles. He was an adult, but he sure did attack life like a kid.
For 25 plus years Josh always looked forward to the annual family vacation Up North. Everyone cleared the calendars for this once a year get away. For several years they spent this time together over Labor Day in Mackinac City where Josh walked the bridge numerous times. After his dad purchased the cabin near Marquette family vacation time was spent there as well. Even with no running water or electricity, the family enjoyed new adventures including kayaking in Lake Superior, jumping off of Black Rock, hiking various trails, sightseeing, rock hunting along the beach and stops at the casino to try his luck on the slot machines.
Other times when life was casual, Josh always fully invested himself in family affairs. If he wasn't supporting Taylor in her singing, he was watching Greg play football or wrestle. He loved his whole family dearly - from the young to the old, and everyone loved him right back. He was like a magnet; he was easy to connect with and full of life. Easy hang out's with the family, including chicken wings, steak, or anything at Aunt Deb's were some of his favorite moments. He also looked forward to walks in the forest - especially near where he walked with his grandpa Tom.
He was also a supportive fan of the Kalamazoo Central Maroon Giants, the Detroit Tigers, NASCAR, and the University of Michigan football team. He looked forward to new episodes of “Forged in Fire,” "White Water Gold Rush" and "The Deadliest Catch," among others. There were few moments of quiet with Josh because he was known for being a bit of a chatterbox - he would wake up talking and go to bed talking! So, it was fitting that Josh always reminded others to take their vitamins. Daily. Oh! And don't forget the bacon - Josh loved bacon and would grill it and pair it with just about anything.
Josh was confronted by the other sharp turn in his life on December 13, 2018. On this day, he learned his diagnosis with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. When he learned of his fate, he accepted the challenge fearlessly and courageously, wanting to make the rest of his remaining moments count. He kept a strong faith and knew that God had a plan for him. He knew he would find peace in the end, so he kept his head up and soaked in the life all around him with grace.
As only Josh could, he made jokes about how he was going to write a book about what they don't tell you about the side effects of chemotherapy. Unfortunately, he suffered from just about every side effect recorded, but he laughed it off as best he could and faced it like the true champ he was.
As Josh faced his mortality, he set three main goals: 1) being there for Taylor’s high school graduation, 2) going on the annual family vacation, and 3) celebrating his one year anniversary with Monica. He accomplished all three. The average survival time when diagnosed with this advanced disease is 1-4 months. Josh survived longer than most because of the incredible amount of love and support he received during his journey.
It is comforting to know that Josh lived his life with great intent, achieved genuine happiness, experienced true love, and died without regret. May we all do the same to honor the gift we still have. The gift of life is precious, and Josh appreciated and embraced this fact every day in his 40 years in this lifetime.
Josh died October 3, 2019, at Rose Arbor Hospice, Kalamazoo. Members of his family include his wife of a year, Monica Beilby; 4 children: Taylor and Greg Beilby and Grace and Emma Wolverton; parents; Thomas Jr. (Leslie) Beilby and Penny Beilby, 4 siblings: Joel (Lindsay) Beilby, Stephen (Jen) Beilby, Maike Buckingham and Caleb Buck; grandparents: Thomas Sr. and Sandy Beilby and Jane Cartwright; and many nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts and uncles. Cremation will take place. Visit with family and friends on Wednesday from 5-7 PM at Betzler Life Story Funeral Home (6080 Stadium Dr., Kalamazoo, MI) where services will be held Thursday at 11 AM. A luncheon will follow the service in the Life Story Center and private burial at Riverside Cemetery. Please visit Josh’s personal memory page at www.BetzlerLifeStory.com where you can archive a favorite memory or photo and sign his guestbook before coming to the funeral home. Memorial Contributions may be made to Rose Arbor Hospice or Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.