Where Food, Drinks & Stories Are Shared

Ron Johnson

January 24, 1944 - November 25, 2023
Vicksburg, MI


Life Story Celebration

Wednesday, November 29, 2023
4:00 PM to 6:00 PM EST
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.

The Air Zoo
6151 Portage Rd
Portage, MI 49002
(269) 382-6555
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


Patient, caring, and kind, Ron Johnson lived a life rich in family and friends. Ron had a quick wit and inspired lots of laughter in the family. He nurtured many cherished friendships and led with his heart in all things. He embraced each day as a gift and every person with respect. By example, he showed all who were blessed to know him how to live wholeheartedly, with grace, gratitude, and goodwill. A devoted husband, father, grandfather, and friend, Ron will long be remembered and so very missed.

1944 marked a time when all American lives were directly impacted by the war effort in Europe. Closer to home, Floyd and Evelyn (Smith) Johnson celebrated their own hopes for the future as they welcomed their son Ron on January 24, 1944, in LaPorte, Indiana.

While a student at LaPorte High School, Ron first met Patricia "Patt" Freese while playing in the school's band together; he played tuba, and she played clarinet. He finally asked her out on a double date with another couple from the band, and so began a true love story.

The happy couple married on June 20, 1964, and lived on campus at Purdue University while Ron attended classes there. After graduating with his bachelor's degree, Ron soon started with The Upjohn Company. As a manager, Ron was well respected by his employees. He looked after them, ensured they had time off when needed, and cared not just about them but their families, too. His quality as a leader led to a wonderful and productive 32-year career.

Ron and Patt were blessed to welcome two children to their family. Andy and Jill were their hearts' delight, and Ron was a very active father. He coached their sports teams and proudly attended all of their games, recitals, and musicals. He did the same for his grandkids. He sat through more Nutcracker Suites than anyone they knew…and stayed awake for a few of them. Seeing his family performing and enjoying their own interests brought a twinkle to Ron’s eye.

Since 1974, Ron and Patt have lived in their home on Barton Lake. His slice of heaven, Ron loved boating, fishing, and pulling the kids and grandkids on tubes behind the pontoon. He and his kids and grandkids dug for fresh worms, and his grandkids would wake up excited to fish off the dock with Grampa. Over the years, Ron built the house up. He put his talent for drafting from his high school days to use by designing a new addition to their house after retirement.

A lifelong Purdue fan and supporter, Ron cheered for his Boilermakers at every opportunity. He also enjoyed watching NASCAR and rooting for Kevin Harvick or more recently for Carson Hocevar, a local driver from Portage. Ron had a passion for cars, more than just watching races. His enthusiasm for Corvairs set him apart from everyone else. A local club member, Ron owned 2 Corvairs over the years, but his '62 was a favorite. He entered many car shows each summer, including the Mendon Dust-Off and the Vicksburg Classic Car Show. The family also enjoyed several notable trips, including a particular adventure to Saugatuck, where they rode dune buggies together, kicking up plenty of sand behind them!

Ron enjoyed golfing for fun and playing racquetball. In fact, he entered the Michigan Senior Olympics for racquetball when they were hosted in Kalamazoo, playing doubles and earning a medal in the event. Fishing trips to Canada with a group of friends were the stuff of legend. Chartering a small plane, they’d fly into a spot on the Little Missinaibi River for several days of fishing, campfires, and stories. After retiring, he volunteered at The Air Zoo. Though he wasn't particularly looking for something to do, he attended an open house at the museum, and that led to a decade of sharing his time with the airplanes and the good people there. Volunteering there developed many more wonderful friendships over the years.

One of the greatest gifts Ron gave his family was the love and marriage he shared with Patt. He truly loved her and delighted in the simple things, such as keeping her car’s gas tank filled and giving her roses on every anniversary. He was a gem who proved a powerful role model for how to care for a beloved.

As we gather to celebrate Ron's beautiful life, may we find much comfort in our many treasured memories. May we also find comfort in carrying his legacy of kindness forward. In each moment that we greet another with a warm, welcoming smile, enjoy time on the lake, cheer on our loved one's endeavors, and confidently face life's challenges, we keep Ron's spirit alive and inspiring others as he so inspired each of us.

Ronald Johnson, of Vicksburg, age 79, died on November 25, 2023. Ron was born January 24, 1944, in LaPorte, Indiana, to Floyd and Evelyn (Smith) Johnson, who preceded him in death. Surviving are his wife, Patt; children: Andy (Christine) Johnson and Jill (Tim) Eastman; grandchildren: Kat and Kyle Johnson, Abby and Mitch Eastman; brother, Bill Johnson; and niece and nephew, Lynn Wilson and Jay Johnson.

Please join us at a Life Story Celebration where food, drinks, and stories will be shared from 4-6 PM on Wednesday, November 29th, at Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo 269-375-2900. Visit Ron's webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories, photos, and sign his guestbook. Instead of flowers, memorial donations may be made to The Kalamazoo Air Zoo or a charity of your choice.