Thursday, November 10, 2022
2:00 PM EST
Oak Grove Cemetery
A Service to Celebrate Ray's Life will be announced later.
Memorial Bird Walk 1
Friday, May 19, 2023
7:30 AM to 9:30 AM EDT
Kleinstuck Nature Preserve
2100 Sterns Ave
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
Transportation from the Kalamazoo Nature Center will be provided. Meet in the parking lot by 7 am
Memorial Bird Walk 2
Saturday, May 20, 2023
7:30 AM to 9:30 AM EDT
Kalamazoo Nature Center
7000 N Westnedge Ave
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
The hike will begin at the Ray Adams Memorial Bench. Meet in the upper parking lot.
A light breakfast will be held after the walk on the visitors deck.
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.
Raymond J. Adams Jr. Avian Research Endowment Fund
Kalamazoo Community Foundation, 402 E. Michigan
Kalamazoo, MI 49007
Checks may be made payable to "KZCF/Adams fund. Please make sure that you place Raymond J. Adams Avian Research Fund in the memo line of your check.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
1830 S. Westnedge
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
Taylor's Florist and Gifts
215 E. Michigan Ave.
Paw Paw, MI 49079
Life Story / Obituary
She took his little hand and lead him into the field..." And thus began the incredible journey that lasted his whole life long. Raymond Adams' Aunt Helen Dunlap was the one responsible for creating the passion that drove him to a lifetime of counting, preserving, and enjoying the natural world and our fellow species, and most particularly his beloved birds.
He was hired out of Kalamazoo College post graduation in 1967 by Dr. H. Lewis Batts Jr., and Jean Batts, who founded the Kalamazoo Nature Center. Ray did what few people ever get to do in their lifetimes-spend their lives in a career that they love for the entirety of said career. To this very day, Ray's co-workers, Steve Allen (pallbearer), John Brenemen, Richard (pallbearer) & Brenda Keith; students (John Stiner) and many others continue this passion in ornithological research. Notably Monica Ann Evans, assistant to the Batts' family and assistant director of the nature center during that time has founded the Raymond J. Adams Jr. Avian Research Endowment Fund.
Naturalists are all consumed by their work, regardless of weather conditions, and in complete disregard of all human rules regarding personal hygiene (you know-bathing, shaving, brushing teeth, changing clothes), priorities include how many and what kinds of species are present and why. These priorities also take precedence over holidays, family events, and anything else that gets in the way of a good census, much to the dismay of people around them. They trudge merrily forth into lakes, marshes, mud, etc. Later in life this cost Ray a couple of vehicles that were used like military Humvees and blew up or were completely destroyed when they couldn't navigate large downed trees or mud bogs rivaling the La Brea Tar pits.
Ray married Patricia Lee Minckler at the nature center in 1970 and had a daughter Dorienne Rae and adopted a son Michael Lyle Adams. Both children were also tramped through fields and taught to count hatchlings in bird boxes and to learn the joys of holding, healing, being pooped on, taloned, pecked, and bitten by our fellow species in the natural world! Later in life he would turn his high-powered scope to dragonflies, damselflies, and moths, and would stay up all night with Wayne, luring in and counting unsuspecting moths with lights and stinky moth bait and having a wonderful time!
He co-authored two books, a lovely coffee table book, illustrated by wildlife artists, and called The Birds of Michigan, and The Breeding Bird Atlas of Michigan with fellow avian lover, Dr. Richard Brewer. For Ray, these accomplishments of his great passion are also who he is, and there is not a separation of the two.
Ray had a special gift of making people feel at ease, and he loved to make people laugh! He had a firm belief in being positive and understanding without judgement (a gift inherited from his beloved mother Dorothy) and a strong conviction to help others.
Ray had a love of collecting- everything! He spent many happy hours at antique shows with much loved, adopted brother Barry Taylor and his gracious wife Marty who shared that joy with him.
Ray thoroughly enjoyed the company of women, and had many women friends whom he loved and looked forward to their visits greatly: ex-wife and dear friend until the last days of his life, Pat Adams; a dear high school and family friend, Jan Speers-Rachor; great friend from up north for many years - Judy Barrett; wonderful roommates and caregivers Leslie & Nancy, Ruth Waybrant, Judy Adams, Elaine Smith, Carolyn Martin, Sue Martin, and Judy Cummings; lady friends Kathy and Sabina; and fiancée for a time, Judy Hanna. Ray's friends, Mary & Melinda, at MediLodge of Marshall were a big part of his daily life there.
Ray's great athletic ability in high school lead to Galesburg being a powerhouse of athleticism in the state during the early 1960s, earning state championships in 1963 in tennis and in 1962 for the football team, along with high school buddies: Dale Martin, Doug Smith, Ron Adams, Ron Waybrant, and Keith Martin who will honor Ray as pall bearers and greeters at the open-casket graveside service on Thursday, November 10 at 2 PM at Oak Grove Cemetery in Galesburg, MI. Light refreshment and a place to gather will follow the service at the Galesburg Congregational Church. Please feel free to wear a mask or not - whichever you prefer. A full celebration of life will take place in the early spring (May) with a celebration gathering and bird walk at The Kalamazoo Nature Center that the family hopes will become an annual event in his name.
Ray is survived by daughter, Dorie Adams; nephew, Jonathan Adams; ex-wife, Patricia Adams; granddaughter, Kaylee Rose Underwood; and great-granddaughter; Kaden; Uncle, Kenneth Dunlap (who just celebrated his 100th birthday), and several cousins on his mother's and father's sides of the family.
He was preceded in death by brother, Robert Adams; father, Raymond J. Adams Sr.; mother, Dorothy Adams; beloved son, Michael Lyle Adams; uncles and aunts on both sides of the family, and his Aunt Helen Dunlap.
We intend to publish memories of great hilarity, love, and fascinating adventures in the memories section on Ray's obituary page on betzlerlifestory.com where there are categories for photos, guest book, poetry and memories. Please feel free to add to this! This page will be a place you can learn from and go to- to get a laugh from and to understand both the naturalist and the planet he knew we must protect. We hope all of you will do the same, to celebrate and continue the preservation of species and the environment (of which the planet will not survive without) and of southwest Michigan's famous ornithologist and adored birdman, Raymond John Adams Jr.
The family wishes to extend heartfelt thanks and gratitude for the exquisite love and care by the staff at MediLodge of Marshall, and the care of Promedica Hospice of Portage, MI because at the end we couldn't have helped Ray without you!
Brenda Keith said it well: "Fly high with your beloved birds Ray"
“Migrate and leave the early body behind, you are free and loved."