With everyone’s health and safety being a top priority, a private celebration of life was held. Please click the link above to view the recorded live stream.
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Friends of the Kal-Haven Trail
P.O. Box 191
Bloomingdale, MI 49026
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Life Story / Obituary
All who knew Robert Badra would agree that he was passionate in everything he did, but it was his constant love and compassion to bless those around him that will be his lasting legacy. Whether his family, his students, or those within his community he selflessly gave of himself in ways both great and small. Bob was deeply devoted to his family, and he was happiest when surrounded by their love. Deeply missed he will be forever remembered.
Although the 1930s were a time of great trial and tribulation due to the Great Depression, there was much joy in the lives of Mr. and Mrs. Badra, of Lansing, Michigan, as they announced the birth of the baby boy they named Robert George on December 8, 1933. He was the second of four Badra children as he was raised in the family home alongside his oldest sister, Mary, his younger brother, Phillip, and his younger sister, Catherine. Robert’s father worked for Oldsmobile while his mother sold Lebanese pastries in addition to caring for her home and family. He and his brother were known to get into their fair share of mischief at times, but it was all in the name of fun. Tenderhearted, Bob was a steady presence in Catherine’s life, and she loved how he told her she was beautiful while going through her awkward teenage years. When he was 13, Bob decided to enter the seminary to become a Roman Catholic Priest so he entered Saint Joseph Seminary in Grand Rapids.
Throughout his life, Bob loved everything about education . After graduating from Saint Joseph Seminary in 1951, he earned his Bachelor of Arts from Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit in 1955 and 1957. Bob was ordained as a priest in Lansing in 1961. In 1968 he earned his Master of Arts from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo and finally his Master of Divinity from St. John’s Provincial Seminary in Plymouth, Michigan, in 1985.
Bob was known for his strong work ethic throughout his life. From 1961 through 1966 he worked as a Roman Catholic Priest and even gave mass at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. and St. Patrick Cathedral in New York City. Bob was stationed at Saint John Vianney, a church near Flint, and at Saint Mary Church in Marshall. While in Marshall, Bob was close friends with Win Schuler. When he decided to leave the priesthood, Bob apparently asked Win for a job at his restaurant, which is what brought Bob to the field of education. He spent one year teaching sixth grade in Grand Rapids before becoming a professor at Kalamazoo Valley Community College in 1968. Bob continued to teach there for 51 years until retiring in the fall of 2019. He was well respected in his field by his students and colleagues alike. Bob was equally inspiring and attentive as a co-worker even quoted Abraham Lincoln’s words,” With malice towards none, with charity for all,” when describing Bob. He loved nothing more than serving his students, even once saying that he would be perfectly content to die in the classroom. Even in his eighties, Bob was teaching in three different cities across Southwest Michigan.
Life was forever changed for Bob when he met and married Kris Stuckey with whom he would share much of his life. She was a student in his class in the late seventies, but as soon as the class ended he asked her to accompany him on a sabbatical trip to the South Pacific. She had just three weeks to get a passport, introduce him to her family, and get prepared to leave, which was all so surprising considering they had never even had a first date! Before they left they were engaged, and their travels started in San Francisco and took them all across the globe. The sweethearts were married at the Lutheran Church in Wauseon, Ohio, and left for their honeymoon in New York City. After having his first marriage annulled, they were able to have an informal wedding in the Catholic Church which delighted him. At that time, after a 10-year absence from the Catholic church, he started going to St. Thomas More Church in Kalamazoo. This became Bob’s church home for the rest of his life. Although Bob and his wife divorced in 2001 , they remained good friends up until his death.
There was nothing Bob loved more than being a father and was blessed with two daughters, Rachal and Danielle. He was a loving presence in their lives and was there to support them in all their events and activities. Bob’s favorite memories were made traveling, and they went all over together including to Mexico, Washington, D.C., and to visit family in Hocking Hills, Ohio. Even times spent at Lake Michigan during the summer were times that were so special to the family. Bob was so proud when his girls graduated from Kalamazoo College and went on to receive Masters degrees in Pittsburgh and Virginia. In fact, Bob even visited them when they were each studying abroad in Italy and Egypt. He even had plans to attend Danielle’s book release for her upcoming book. Bob also dreamed of one day returning to Lebanon, visiting the mountains of Peru, the Amazon River, Petra in Jordan, Aleppo in Syria, and Japan.
All who knew Bob could attest to his insatiable zest for life. He was the one who made white water rafting happen while with Dani in Alaska when he was in his eighties. Truth be told she was a bit nervous about it while her father was fearless. Bob was known for saying, “I’m high on life,” and it was so easy to see that this was true. Bob’s faith was a vibrant part of his life, and for years he attended St. Thomas More Roman Catholic Church. Bob led the annual Good Friday Service at the church for countless years, which was a moving experience for so many. He also led their men’s retreat for several years. Bob loved Tigers baseball and through his role as a priest he was able to meet the players, too. He could often be found out walking his dogs on the Kal-Haven trail as he enjoyed being active. Bob’s travels also took him to Cairo, Beirut, Rome, Pittsburgh, and Fairfax, Virginia, or wherever his daughters were. Bob was actually planning a move to Virginia to be with his daughter and her partner, Holly, when he got sick and unfortunately never made it out there. It has been said that he was a voracious reader as he was known to read multiple books at one time, alternating between them every 50 or so pages. Bob primarily enjoyed non-fiction books on the topics of the church, history, travel, biographies, philosophy, Buddhism, Islam, and anything that explored what it means to be human.
Someone who was always upbeat, lived life to the fullest, and has been called the most contemplative guy in the room, Robert Badra was a blessing in the lives of so many. He inspired others to not give up on their dreams and the need to find the beauty in everything. Robert was the best father his daughters could ever ask for, and the impact he leaves behind will never fade away.
Robert Badra, Age 86, of Kalamazoo, died September 16, 2020. Bob was born December 8, 1933, the son of Robert and Anna Badra.
Bob was preceded in death by his daughter Rachal and his sister Mary Rafol.
Surviving is his daughter Danielle (Holly Mason) Badra; friend and ex-wife Kris Badra; his brother, Phil (Nancy) Badra; his sister, Cathy (Ken) Erickson; his nephews Peter, Luke and Paul; nieces: Anne and Veronica.
Cremation has taken place. Private services will take place at St. Thomas More. Visit Bob’s personal webpage at www.BetzlerLifeStory.com where you may read his Life Story, archive a favorite memory or photo, and sign his online guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to: SPCA of South West Michigan, Friends of the Kal Haven Trail and Van Buren Youth Camp. Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Dr., Kalamazoo, (269)-375-2900