Thursday, May 9, 2019
12:00 PM to 2:00 PM EDT
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
A prayer service will be held at 2pm.
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.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
There was only one thing Paul Charkowske loved more than fast cars, hunting and doing things right the first time, and that was the family he loved fully and unconditionally. A hard working man, Paul was a caring man who lived by his convictions and in so doing he set a fine example for his children to live by. He valued his many friendships, brought smiles to those around him with his dry sense of humor, and was always there with a helping hand. For those who knew him best, Paul will be deeply missed and fondly remembered.
By 1947, the end of World War II found the baby boom well on its way as families faced a housing shortage. Many young couples beginning families of their own lived with their parents for a time while newly developed suburban neighborhoods were being built. The post war economy boomed as the need for consumer goods rose, and manufacturing jobs were plentiful. Through these changing times, Phillip and Lucille (Hall) Charkowske added to the boom with the birth of their little boy, Paul, born on October 22, 1947. Born and raised in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Paul was five years old when he was joined by his younger brother, Michael. To support their family, Paul’s father was a machinist at Eaton Transmission while his mother looked after their household and the boys.
A family devout to their Catholic faith, Paul attended St. Augustine School. Like many, Paul’s mother walked him to his first day of kindergarten and talked about the exciting day ahead of him. Yet so typical of Paul, even from his earliest years, he was one step ahead and snuck out the back door of the school. Needless to say, and to his mother’s surprise, he was right there at home waiting for her when she returned. This was not to be the last of Paul’s days of skipping school, either!
Paul was a young boy of his generation. He enjoyed the friendships of many, with numerous boyhood adventures and shenanigans along the way, too. Always a lot taller than the other kids his age, Paul played baseball for the Eastwood Little League having hit many home runs over the fence. He also went on to play baseball during his high school years, having earned a letter sweater. Along with baseball, Paul also enjoyed bowling and softball. In addition, he often played pool in the pool halls and was even known to have skipped school to practice on more than one occasion. He often brought friends home to play pool in the basement and wouldn’t tell his mom, but in the mornings she’d count the shoes at the door to know how much to make for breakfast.
Like many young men, Paul loved everything about cars and the faster the better. He cultivated many lifelong friendships throughout his school years and sharing his adventurous spirit with those around him, but especially with those who also enjoyed muscle cars. While he loved fast cars, Paul had a knack for blowing up transmissions and engines. He and his dad fixed them together hanging the engine on a chain hoist on the big oak tree in the front yard. It didn’t take long before the neighbors heard the engines revving once again.
Skipping school eventually caught up with Paul when he had to attend summer school. It was during his high school years and as fate would have it, he met the love of his life there, Sherry. Her cousin introduced them and while Paul was there to catch up on his studies, Sherry was there to get ahead. Paul landed his first job working at Dairy Queen and then McDonald’s and always managed to smell like onions when he’d take Sherry out on their Friday night dates. For a time, he attended Barbour Hall Military Academy at Nazareth before eventually graduating from St. Augustine High School. Paul and Sherry were happily married on March 25, 1966 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Kalamazoo. It was only the beginning of 53 years filled with a deep, abiding love.
Paul began working at Eaton Transmission where his dad and aunt, who also worked there, helped get him the interview. During his time at Eaton’s, Paul was on a pool league which he very much enjoyed. He worked at Eaton’s for 15 years until 1980 when Eaton’s closed. At that time he went into the building trades for the rest of his career, constructing custom built residential homes.
On the home front, Paul and Sherry soon expanded their family to include three wonderful children, Linda, Lisa, and Brad. A close-knit family, Paul raised his children to know right from wrong and instilled in them high morals. Spending time together as a family was always important to Paul. Saturday was always hamburger night and whenever he could, Paul insisted on having Rice-a-Roni. On Sunday’s they’d attend church, have an early dinner, and then take an afternoon car ride. If the kids were really good they would treat them to Dairy Queen or the Root Beer Stand on the way home. Family trips to Florida to visit Paul’s grandfather who lived on the beach were always fun. Driving the whole way, they were more than happy to reach Chattanooga, Tennessee as it was the half way mark. They also took fun-filled trips to Cedar Point and the Great Smokey Mountains. They’d also visit Paul’s lifelong friend, Joel, who moved around a lot so it was fun to discover where they would be visiting him next.
Once the kids were grown and had lives of their own, the empty nesters discovered their love of boating. Paul and Sherry loved spending the summers on the water in South Haven, especially enjoying it with their grandkids. They absolutely loved being grandparents and even named their boat, the Kylie J, after their two oldest grandkids. Paul loved sunny afternoons on the boat, although hunting remained his passion and he could hardly wait for deer season each year. No women were allowed at their deer camp and when he was old enough, Paul’s grandson, Jake became his best hunting buddy. As a lifelong Lion’s fan, Paul was one of those armchair coaches insisting the Lions would make it to the Super Bowl just once in his lifetime.
When it came to TV, Paul liked watching old Western movies, and not very good ones at that! He was into oldies music and, to his kids dismay, Paul removed the CD player from his truck and replaced it with a cassette player to play his old tapes! It just wasn’t cool when they had to borrow his truck growing up. A hidden talent that didn’t quite fit Paul’s personality was the fact that he was incredibly good at first person shooter games, in particular, Wolfenstein. His grandkids were even afraid to play him because he was so good, but he did pass his love for baseball on to his grandson, Christopher.
Paul enjoyed helping his kids, especially talking through their car problems. Paul and Sherry raised their family to be very self-sufficient, so going to their dad for help meant they really needed it. Everyone learned from Paul. Quite simply, he was just great at fixing, doing, and teaching. It brought him joy to show others how to accomplish something and he took his time doing it. He even taught his grandkids how to change their own oil and it seemed like they were always wrenching on the ATV’s together.
Although Paul was a direct straight shooter, he had a hard work ethic and was caring and loyal to the core. He didn’t just talk a good game . . . he was all about right and wrong, and very moral in his thinking. As far as Paul was concerned, one may not particularly like him, but they had better respect him. This was most certainly true when it came to his kids, and they wholeheartedly loved him. He raised his kids well and was proud that all three were college grads and successful in their lives. Since he or Sherry didn’t go to college, they made certain their kids earned high marks and set high standards. Paul lived for his grandkids and was also proud of their accomplishments and the direction of their lives.
In all ways, whether family or friend, Paul was there for those he loved and cared about no matter the circumstance. He shared his thoughts, offered sound advice when needed and rejoiced and celebrated with those around him just the same. Deeply loved, admired and truly respected, the legacy Paul leaves behind will carry on.
Paul Charkowske, age 71, of Comstock, passed away unexpectedly on May 3, 2019. Paul is preceded in death by his father, Phillip, and his aunt, Dorothy Riley. Surviving are his mother, Lucille; his loving wife of 53 years, Sherry; three children: Linda (Roger) Mills, Lisa Lauer, and Brad Charkowske; five grandchildren: Kylie, Jake, Kaylin, Christopher, and Ryan; his brother, Michael (Sandy) Charkowske; several nieces and nephews. Visit with Paul’s family and friends, Thursday, May 9, 12-2 & 6-8 PM at Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Dr., Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900. A prayer service will be held at 2:00 PM. The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Friday, May 10, 11:00 AM at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 939 Charlotte Ave., Kalamazoo, with burial to follow at Mt. Olivet Cemetery. Please visit Paul’s personal webpage at www.BetzlerFuneralHome.com where you may sign his online guestbook or share a favorite memory or photo. Memorial donations may be directed towards Disabled American Veterans.