Life Story Visitation
Wednesday, September 29, 2021
5:00 PM to 7:00 PM EDT
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Where Food, Drinks & Stories will be shared.
Life Story Service
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.
Kalamazoo County 4-H
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Deeply committed to his family, Bill Wood’s life will be remembered as hardworking and conscientious. He was steadfast in his faith and modeled a wonderful example of giving back to others through church and 4-H service projects. Although he will be deeply missed, Bill leaves behind a rich collection of wonderful memories for all who knew and loved him.
Despite the Thirties being marked by tough economic times, the decade also saw an expansion of new technologies. By 1937, Amelia Earhart attempted to achieve a flight around the world and California’s Golden Gate Bridge was completed. Bringing great joy to their world, Glenn and Laverle (Porter) Wood welcomed home their newborn son, William, on June 11th in Muskegon, Michigan. Born the oldest, his birth brought them many promises in an ever-changing world.
Growing up in Fremont, Bill lived a typical childhood of the times. His father taught him the value of a hard day’s work through his work as a butcher at the meat market with his father. Bill had a strong interest in animals at a young age and enjoyed many years participating in 4-H. He was delighted to earn a trip to The Canadian Exhibition with 4-H. He attended local schools and graduated with the Class of 1956 from Fremont High School. After graduation, he started work at the local Gerber Products Company, known for its nutritional baby foods. After securing enough resources, he applied and was accepted to Western Michigan University, bringing him to Kalamazoo Michigan where he would remain for the rest of his life. During his time at WMU, he earned his pilot’s license for fun and owned a small aircraft with Henry Hoffa for a number of years. His first job in Kalamazoo was for a road construction company out of South Haven where he installed sewer mains, drain pipes, and built bridges. He then worked for quite some time at Kalamazoo Container making corrugated cardboard. His fate would change the day he left WMU early to begin an apprenticeship at Fisher Body. Skilled in his ability to work with machinery and computers, Bill learned to operate the presses and started his lifetime career as a tool and die maker and CAD operator. After retiring from GM in 1993, he worked part-time for almost 20 more years at Safari Circuits in Otsego. Whatever he set his mind to doing, he did it with the highest level of integrity and attention to detail.
Not to be forgotten was the meeting of Karen (Munson) Harden, his first love. Karen had two sons Craig and Scott Harden when they married. Together they had one son Douglas Wood, before Karen was killed in a tragic car accident on the day they were to celebrate their seventh wedding anniversary. Devastated, he focused on his children. Bill later met Mary (Pomeroy) Taft in the spring of 1973. She was recently widowed with three children of her own: Julie, Rick and Jeffrey Taft. BIll and Mary bumped into one another when he was picking up some tractor tires. They hit it off and the rest was history! Valleyview Bible Church in Kalamazoo was the perfect setting for their fall September wedding that same year. After they honeymooned in Kentucky and the surrounding area for two weeks, the happy couple settled into their family home on West H Avenue. Together, they would add 4 more children, Glenn, Edward, Edith and Andrew, bringing their combined total to 10. Being the father of a large blended family had its challenges for sure, but Bill worked as best he could with both failures and successes. As a Dad, Bill tried his best to stay as involved as possible with his kids while working to provide for all of them through his everyday job at GM and on the family farm. Keeping up with their sports, band, and 4-H events presented its challenges but Bill wouldn’t have traded it for anything! In his own way he sought to encourage others around him and share his love of farming. Every fall and winter his freezers were full of food that he had either raised in his pastures and barns or grew in his various garden patches. His family never wanted for good food at the supper table every evening. They enjoyed pot roast, round eye steaks, ham, pork chops, and all the corn, green beans, and squash grown from the garden. Most evenings after the chores and farm work were done he was found sitting at the dining room table reading his newspaper. Sometimes he read that newspaper while he watched several of his kids try to finish up some unwelcome meal of liver and onions or spinach and something!
Bill’s life was full of contradiction, conflict, and comfort. He was faithful to take his family to church every Sunday, support them as they went on mission trips, or summer camp, but in many cases was very private about his own faith. He could strike up a conversation with anyone about the price of gas, meats and vegetables at the local Meijer, what was going on with his kids or Reagan politics, but again found it difficult to talk to others about something more personal to himself.
Blending the Hardens, the Woods, and the Tafts didn’t come without its fair share of conflicts. Holidays were the best and worst of times! Anyone could imagine what Christmas was like with ten kids presents underneath a Christmas tree, the Christmas family get-togethers, and all the food!
In the end of this story here Bill found comfort in many things. Over the years he enjoyed bringing tomatoes, zucchini, and squash from his summer garden into work and church to share with others. When he could, time was spent resting with his family at Sandy Pines for a weekend, especially on the 4th of July. It was a tradition of his to take some or all of the family north to Muskegon and Fremont to decorate family graves with fresh flowers over the Memorial Day weekend. Many meals were eaten picnic style there in the cemetery or at a local restaurant (Winslow’s) known for its fresh perch and many animal mounts on its walls and showroom of various bears, deer, antelope, and other more exotic animals. In his retirement years Bill spent time traveling with his wife Mary to various parts of the country to visit kids and grandkids from North Carolina, to Utah, and to Minnesota. They also have some fond memories of times spent visiting his sister Pat and her husband Don in Florida. One place they always wanted to visit again was Nova Scotia, but never got the chance. It brought a lot of comfort to him whenever grandchildren visited and he was able to share cheese and crackers, popcorn, ice cream, nuts, or candy with them. Bill lived for large family gatherings and big family dinners. He captured countless family memories by taking photos. Bill had an eye for candid shots as well as portraits at gatherings. He collected several boxes of photos over the years and was usually easy to spot at each family function with a camera around his neck!
Building and fabricating useful items to be used on the farm was something Bill always took pride in. If he thought he could build something cheaper than the local farm store was selling it for, he made it himself. In his retirement years he continued to use those skills to build and design other useful items for his home at the request of the “Head Chicken.” He also designed and built several bunk beds for the Kentucky Mountain Mission. All in all, Bill was always one to tell the best stories, boost the confidence of others, and lighten the mood with his exceptional sense of humor. He lived a full life filled with many special memories. May his loved ones never doubt his genuine love for each and every one of them and may his memories live on in their hearts forevermore.
William “Bill” Wood, age 84, of Kalamazoo, Michigan, died September 21, 2021, at Park Village Pines, Kalamazoo. Bill retired from Fisher Body following a 27-year career as a tool and die maker and CAD operator. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Karen (Harden) Wood; parents: Glenn and Laverle; 2 sisters: Margaret Predum and Karen Barton; son-in-law, Shawn Bryan; and grandson, Gabriel Wood. Surviving are his wife of 48 years, Mary Wood; 10 children: Craig (Luann) Harden, Scott (Margaret) Harden, Julie Taft, Rick Taft (Lorri Kara), Doug Wood (Sandra Coyer), Jeff (Heaven) Taft, Glenn (Sandi) Wood, Edward (Katye) Wood, Edith Bryan and Andrew (Monique) Wood; 37 grandchildren; 13 great-grandchildren; sister, Pat (Don) Girvan and many nieces, nephews and cousins. Please join us at a Life Story Visitation where food, drinks and stories will be shared on Wednesday, September 29, 2021, from 5-7 PM at Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900 where services will be held Thursday, September 30, 2021 at 11 AM. Burial will take place at Hill Cemetery. Visit Bill’s webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories, photos and sign his guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to Kalamazoo County 4-H.