Where Food, Drinks & Stories Are Shared

Leonard DeGoede

July 20, 1928 - May 21, 2024
Portage, MI


Life Story Celebration

Friday, May 31, 2024
3:00 PM to 5:00 PM EDT
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
Kalamazoo Location
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
(269) 375-2900

Where food, drinks, and stories will be shared.

Driving Directions


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.

Centrica Care Navigators
7100 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
(269) 345-0273
Driving Directions
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

Taylor's Florist and Gifts
215 E. Michigan Ave.
Paw Paw, MI 49079
(269) 657-6256
Driving Directions
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


Leonard DeGoede lived a life rich in family and friends. Quiet and soft-spoken, Leonard was a great listener who led with his heart. He was kind and gentle and loved being outdoors, fishing, boating, hunting mushrooms, and spending time with those he loved. Leonard was a loving husband, father, grandfather, brother, and friend who was treasured by all who were blessed to know him.

1928 continued to ride the decade’s roaring wave of peace, prosperity, and hope. The nation celebrated the recent inventions of Penicillin, the iron lung, bubble gum, and the Yo-Yo, as well as Charles Lindbergh’s Congressional Medal of Honor and Amelia Earhart becoming the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. As the wave of sweeping social and economic growth rapidly increased, nowhere was there more hope for the future than in the home of John and Adriana (DeKracker) DeGoede as they welcomed their son Leonard on July 20 in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Growing up in Kalamazoo, Leonard enjoyed the good company of his six older siblings: John, Pete, Joe, Josie, Jean, and Janett. Good times were had swimming in Woods Lake and jumping off the bridge into the Kalamazoo River. Leonard left school in the ninth grade to start working and help provide for his family. He often talked about the Portage area and watching the farmland grow into bustling commercial districts. From a young age, Leonard enjoyed cars. He often took pleasure cruises around town with friends or weekend road trips to Chicago.

While working at the state hospital, Leonard had the good fortune of meeting the love of his life, Gwendolyn, who often joked that he had been a patient. The pair began dating and soon fell in love. Leonard was happy to welcome Gwendolyn’s daughters, Janine and Nancy, into his heart and call them family when he and Gwendolyn married. In time, Leonard and Gwendolyn welcomed three more children to their family: Susan, Terry, and David.

While their kids were growing up, Leonard loved to take them out on Saturdays. They’d pile in the car and either hunt for mushrooms, asparagus, walnuts, or even pop cans and bottles, which the kids used to buy their favorite candies. When they lived on the lake, he’d take the family out for rides on the pontoon. They’d bring the camp stove and cook breakfast on the lake. They also enjoyed fishing from his bass boat. Leonard became a painter, mostly of homes, and enjoyed pointing out houses he painted to his kids. The family enjoyed traveling together and went to Florida every year to visit Gwendolyn’s parents. Leonard was known for finding a true motel to stay the night, rather than a hotel.

While Leonard and Gwendolyn could bicker about absolutely everything with the best of them, there was no doubt they loved one another. Their 53-year love story is filled with laughter, smiles, and treasured memories. They enjoyed wine that Leonard made himself, fermenting the grapes in a keg in their attic. And they danced like nobody was watching. Chubby Checker’s The Twist was a favorite, and he’d get the whole family dancing. Sadly, Gwendolyn died in 2005. With the support of his family, Leonard continued to embrace each day as a gift. He continued to find joy in the simple things, like Hibachi Sushi lunch dates with his granddaughter, Erica.

Game shows were a favorite, especially Wheel of Fortune, which he often watched in the company of neighbors. Leonard loved his neighbors, particularly later in life. He enjoyed reminiscing about earlier years. After moving into Spring Manor, he left his door open one day and met Betty Harvey-Knudson, who became a lovely companion. They shared coffee every morning, endless conversations, and took trips together, including one to Hawaii.

Though life feels a bit less certain in the absence of Leonard’s steadfast companionship, may we find much comfort in our many treasured memories. May we also find comfort in the honor of carrying Leonard’s legacy forward. In each moment we enjoy fishing or taking a boat ride, enjoy a Saturday adventure with loved ones, do The Twist, watch a game show, or curl up with a favorite dog, we celebrate the countless ways Leonard made the world a better place. In this way, we keep his spirit alive and inspiring others as he so inspired us.

Leonard DeGoede, age 95, died on May 21, 2024. He is preceded in death by his wife, Gwendolyn; daughter, Susan; step-daughter, Nancy; siblings: John, Pete, Joe, Josie, Jean, and Janett; and grandson, David Jr. Surviving are his children: Terry Vandiver and David (Linda) DeGoede; step-daughter, Jeanine Dooley; and a host of grand, great-grand, and great-great-grandchildren, nieces, and nephews; and longtime friend Betty Harvey-Knudson.

Please join us at a Life Story Celebration where food, drinks, and stories will be shared on Friday, May 31, from 3-5 PM at Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo, 269-375-2900. Celebrate Leonard’s life online by sharing your favorite stories and photos on his dedicated webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com. Memorial contributions may be made to Centrica Care Navigators.