Where Food, Drinks & Stories Are Shared

Keith Wade Sr.

June 11, 1952 - September 4, 2023
Kalamazoo, MI


Celebration of Life

Sunday, September 24, 2023
3:00 PM to 7:00 PM EDT
Milham Park
607 E. Kilgore Road
Kalamazoo, MI 49048

Dinner will be provided and musical friends are encouraged to bring their instruments and play together. We also welcome people to bring a dish to pass.


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.

American Cancer Society
P.O. Box 22478
Oklahoma City, OK 73123
(800) 227-2345
Web Site

SPCA of Southwest Michigan
6955 W KL Ave
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
(269) 344-1474
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


Keith Wade was a gentle and polite man. He had a flaming sense of humor, but he was also soft-spoken. He was an intuitive musician and used music as a tool to uplift his energy and the space surrounding him.

Otis and Pearl Wade welcomed Keith into the world on June 11, 1952. Keith had his close-knit group of friends he stuck with through the years who shared his passions for music and laughter. Music was always at the center of Keith’s life. He played keyboard and saxophone in the school band. Though Keith never even learned how to read sheet music, he could play anything by ear! He played at the Elk's Club in the Detroit area and other locations. Keith loved to have jam sessions with his friends creating an atmosphere of pure musical delight for those lucky enough to join him.

At the age of 17, Keith embarked on a life-changing journey after his mother enlisted him in the military. He was sent overseas to serve in Vietnam. When he returned, Keith went to college at Ferris State University, marking another chapter in his journey to becoming the man we all came to know and admire. He later found his way to Kalamazoo to be with a woman he loved.

Keith got a job at Production Tooling where he worked in the tool and die shop. In his time with the company, he built strong friendships with his coworkers, some of whom he considered his own family.

Keith’s captivating charisma, beaming smile, and gentleness soon won the heart of Lavina. Their love story spanned 22 years, the last 18 years of which they were married. Lavina became his anchor, and together they navigated the joys and challenges of life with unwavering support for one another.

Music remained an integral part of Keith’s life. He even built a music room in their house where he played alto and soprano saxophone. Unbeknownst to him, a neighbor secretly recorded his soulful melodies, capturing the essence of Keith’s musical talent.

As for other activities, Keith found joy in roller skating, often dancing while gliding effortlessly across the rink. Friday and Saturday nights were reserved for skating with Lavina at Roller World, creating treasured memories together. Keith also enjoyed going to the casino, particularly for the excitement of the penny slots. His adventures extended far beyond Michigan, as he and his family explored places like Manhattan, Niagara Falls, Wisconsin Dells, and Hershey, Pennsylvania. Keith and Lavina both liked traveling to places he'd never been and sharing in the experience of new surroundings.

A memorable family member, cherished to this day, involved a humorous mishap during a Florida vacation. As the sliding glass door closed behind him, Keith’s face met the glass! This created a comical moment that still brings laughter to the family.

No matter where Keith was, if chicken strips and fries were on the menu, he was having it! Poor Richards was his go-to spot for a hearty breakfast and friendly conversation. When it came to home cooking, Keith was a tremendous chef. While Lavina worked long hours, Keith made sure she came home every day to a clean house and a delicious meal on the table.

Keith also cherished his dogs. He loved teaching them tricks and finding special moments for them to show off. He even taught his dog, Sofie, how to climb a tree! She loved climbing her way to the first branch to have a great view of everyone around her.

As many will recall, Keith had a unique way of leaving gatherings without a formal goodbye. He would simply, though politely, see himself out. His family would suddenly look around, and upon realizing he was no longer in the room, they’d typically finding him waiting patiently in the car.

A pillar of strength, Keith was never shy about difficult conversations. He knew just how to listen and reserve any judgment. He trusted the person would find the right path forward and he could shine a light on any situation, with a bit of good humor, to bring comfort and support to those in need.

Keith was diagnosed with cancer for several years. Even after a brain aneurysm over thirty years prior that stopped much of his saxophone playing because he wasn't supposed to put the strain on his head blowing into the sax, the house was constantly full of music because Keith learned to play the keyboard as a result. Keith did eventually pick the saxophone back up. Keith gave the best, most loving hugs, and he had the brightest smile. His absence leaves an unwelcome silence, but his indelible mark on the world will forever resonate in the music and in the lives of those closest to him. His spirit and his stories will continue inspiring laughter and joy in the hearts of many.

Keith Wade, Sr., 71, died on September 4, 2023. Keith was preceded in death by his parents and his sister. He is survived by nine children; several grandchildren; and his brother and sister. Visit BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories, photos, or sign his guestbook. Donations to SPCA of Southwest Michigan or American Cancer Society. Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo, (269) 375-2900.