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Obituaries » James R. Betz

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January 20, 1930 - August 12, 2022

Honoring Jim’s wishes, cremation has taken place. There will be a private memorial service for the immediate family. Arrangements have been entrusted to Joldersma & Klein Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Kalamazoo Air Zoo (Aerospace & Science Experience Restoration Project at or c/o the funeral home.

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Beloved father passed away on 08/12/2022 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He was 92 years old. James Robert Betz was born on January 20, 1930, in Bluffton, Indiana the only son of Clarence and Beatrice (Williams) Betz. He attended Parchment High School. Jim enlisted in the U.S. Army on January 5, 1951 and served during the Korean Conflict. After being honorably discharged he returned to Southwest Michigan where he married Patricia Pumfrey on July 16, 1955. Jim used his G.I. benefits to become an electro-mechanical draftsman. He had the opportunity to work on many cutting-edge projects during the 1960’s and 1970’s including working for Magnavox on color television, the early development of night vision technology for the military and working for the Bendix Corporation on several Apollo space missions. He was particularly proud of his work on the Lunar Rover or “Moon Buggie” used on the last three Apollo moon missions in 1971 and 1972. Jim loved riding his Harley Davidson. His other passion was flying. He enjoyed building and flying model airplanes. He bought a wrecked Cessna, rebuilt it, and earned his pilots license. Jim was always tinkering and fixing things. One year he converted an old school bus into an RV and took his family on a once-in-a-lifetime 7-week summer trip around the United States. He selflessly supported his family and always encouraged his children to do their very best. He will be missed by all who loved him. He is survived by his son, John (Samantha) Betz; daughter, Jeannie (Scott) Patrick; five grandchildren, Kelley (Brad) Millan, Michael (Courtney) McPherson, Mitchell McPherson, Destiny and Madison Betz; five great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his son, Ronald Lee Betz, his first wife of 31 years, Patricia Ann (Pumfrey) Betz, his second wife, Grace Ann (Sybezma) Betz, and his parents, Clarence and Beatrice Betz. The family wishes to thank the staff and care providers at Borgess Gardens and Heartland Hospice for their compassionate care of Jim for the past eight years.