Life Story Visitation
Tuesday, July 6, 2021
4:00 PM to 7:00 PM EDT
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Please join us at a Life Story Visitation where food, drinks and stories will be shared.
Mass of Christian Burial
Wednesday, July 7, 2021
11:00 AM EDT
St. Mary Church
209 S. Brown St
Paw Paw, MI 49079
Burial will follow at St. Mary Cemetery.
Life Story / Obituary
When reflecting on the life of Lyle Ray LaPine, it is evident that his love for his family, competitive spirit, and incredible work ethic led him to great success in all he strived to achieve and laid a solid foundation for his family. He understood the value of hard work and responsibility, and it was important to him to demonstrate this to all who knew him. Above all else, Lyle will be remembered most for the respect and kindness he showed ordinary people from all walks of life. He was truly an example of a life well-lived and had “work hard, play hard” down to a tee (no pun intended). Deeply loved, Lyle will be dearly missed.
Lyle was welcomed into the world on February 19, 1928 by his parents, Roy Wilson LaPine and Viola Thorpe LaPine. Growing up in the 1920s & 1930s meant he grew up during the Great Depression, but also during a time of exciting technological advancements that changed how most people lived their daily lives. The world of flight was put into motion, which eventually became Lyle’s first job and led him to meet his wife. However, Lyle was a typical young man of his generation and was raised on the family farm in Paw Paw, Michigan with his brother, Jack, and sister, Sandy. He was once pinned down by a turkey as a toddler! He walked 2 miles every day to country school and would drink milk after milking the cow himself. Lyle’s father, being quite mechanically minded, started LaPine Sheet Metal Company. Though his education did not go past sixth grade, his father was known to be exceptionally smart. He taught valuable lessons to Lyle growing up, most notably that he believed you helped people first and got paid later, if at all.
Lyle attended Paw Paw High School where he graduated in 1946. He started college at Western Michigan University, but later transferred to the University of Michigan hoping for a better education. He graduated in 1952 with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering. While at UofM, he ran track, pole vaulted, and was President of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity.
Lyle landed his first job at Boeing Aircraft in Seattle, where he was the Chief Mechanical Engineer for the HVAC division. He designed the HVAC system for the Boeing 737s. While in Seattle, Lyle met the love of his life, Marguerite Jeanne Hunter. They both belonged to a Catholic social club, called Chancellor Club, where different events were held. Peggy went to the bowling alley to watch Lyle, who had been wanting to meet her. He asked her to be on his team, and they won the league! Lyle admired Peggy’s love of sports, dancing, and faith. One of their first dates was golfing at a lighted Par 3 golf course. The two also took a memorable ski trip to Mt. Hood in Oregon where, instead of spending time out with friends, they spent a cozy New Year’s Eve together. They returned there many times to ski. Lyle and Peggy quickly fell in love and were married on April 28th, 1956 at St Mary Catholic Church in Paw Paw; a marriage lasting 65 years.
Lyle returned to Paw Paw to breathe new life into the company his father founded, alongside his father and brother. In later years, Lyle changed the company name to R.W. LaPine, Incorporated to honor his father and to focus on commercial and industrial mechanical contracting. He worked in the service department for ten years, building the business up and fostering long-standing relationships with clients and vendors. He eventually transformed the company from a residential business to a commercial HVAC company. Lyle inherited his father’s big heart and often made service calls in the middle of the night, even in the dead of winter, to make sure families had heat. He was well-respected by employees and within the community for his knowledge, commitment to service, and fair dealings.
Lyle was overjoyed to become a father to his sons, Kirk and Craig, and devoted himself to raising them to be strong and independent individuals. Lyle taught his children the value of hard work, primarily through his example, and supported them in their activities. When his sons both wanted mini bikes, Lyle simply said, “work for them.” So, they started paper routes and saved up enough money to buy them themselves. Kirk eventually took over R.W and Craig started LaPine Metal Products, living out Lyle’s legacy. In later years, Lyle also adored spending time with Ryan, Jordan, Jared, and Alayna, his cherished grandchildren.
Lyle was an outstanding athlete and loved playing and watching all types of competitive sports, but being on the golf course brought him pure joy. He played golf at The Elks Club and The Kalamazoo Country Club, where he was a member for over 50 years and won more than a few tournaments. In his later years, he formed many close friendships with his golf buddies at the Palmira Golf Club in Bonita Springs, Florida. He was an avid University of Michigan fan, and held season tickets for several years, proudly displaying bumper stickers on his cars and even his golf cart.
Lyle also loved travelling with his wife, Peggy, and they took countless memorable cruises all over the world where they would stop along the way to play historic golf courses and watch major golf tournaments. They took many trips to Barbados, where Lyle got his first hole-in-one! Lyle took a break from his hobbies from time to time to visit his boys at “The Shop,” where even after retirement, he often stopped by to chat and see how things were going. He also loved watching old black & white movies and the Lawrence Welk show when it was time to unwind. He fell in love with the clarinet and saxophone later in life and wished he had started playing at a younger age. Lyle also appreciated getting dressed up and going out to his favorite restaurants. He was a creature of habit and became a regular at many, where they knew his table and order. He loved talking to people whether they were friends or perfect strangers and had a witty sense of humor that never faded.
As his family and friends can attest, Lyle LaPine truly understood the secret to a life well-lived. He was known for his honesty, and he was never afraid to speak his mind. He was a serving member of his community and was always willing to help someone in need no matter the personal cost. Though he will be deeply missed, Lyle leaves behind a priceless legacy that his loved ones will proudly carry on in his footsteps.
Lyle died peacefully surrounded by his family on June 29, 2021 at the age of 93. Lyle is preceded in death by his parents and brother, Jack (Marie). He is survived by his wife, Marguerite Jeanne LaPine; his two sons: Kirk (Debbie) and Craig (Janet); his grandchildren: Ryan (Angela), Jordan, Jared, and Alayna; and step-grandchildren: Nathaniel (Erin), Carson (Sheila), and Marian (Eric); his sister, Sandra Oakleaf; and many nieces and nephews.
Please join us at a Life Story Visitation where food, drinks, and stories will be shared on Tuesday (JULY 6) from 4-7 PM at Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Dr., Kalamazoo, (269) 375-2900. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Wednesday (JULY 7) at 11 AM at St Mary Catholic Church, 209 S. Brown St., Paw Paw. A private family burial will take place at St. Mary Cemetery, but the family invites you to continue the celebration of Lyle’s life with them at La Cantina, 139 W. Michigan Ave., Paw Paw, following the service. Visit Lyle’s webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories, photos, and sign his guestbook.