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1933 Bela Lahner 2024

Bela Lahner

April 25, 1933 — March 26, 2024

Kalamazoo

Bela Lahner passed away peacefully on March 26, 2024 in Kalamazoo, Michigan.


Bela was born April 25, 1933 in Székesfehérvár, Hungary. In 1945, he and his family left Hungary on a German mechanics truck as the Russians invaded. They spent the next six years in refugee camps and working on farms before they were given the opportunity to immigrate to the United States in 1951. The adventures and struggles during this time period in Bela's life were at the center of most conversations around our family table and when we were with friends. He once quipped, "nobody ever teaches you how to be a refugee."  This experience shaped his compassionate and grateful spirit as he knew how blessed he was to be in the United States! 


Bela attended one year at Kalamazoo Central completing two grades that year. He earned a double major in Math and Physics at Western Michigan University and then joined Clarage Fan Company for many years back when computers were the size of a room. He was hired at Upjohn (Pfizer) to finish out his career as a Computer Analyst, a position he loved.  


He met Alta Sivon in Kalamazoo. Genuine respect in each other’s interests, incredible conversations, good cooking, and a love for learning made this a perfect match as they were married in 1965.  He liked to say that the Strawberry Pie she made for him on one of their first dates made him know she was the one. 

Bela and Alta attended First United Methodist Church and made many lifelong friendships through their Astronauts class, Kalamazoo Canoers, and United Methodist Women. Together they built a beautiful life where they raised three daughters while providing music lessons, camping trips, travel opportunities, and lots of advice. 


As first a refugee and then an immigrant, Bela came with almost nothing and worked hard in his life to provide for his family near and far. Bela was willing to hear the inputs of others and enjoyed a good conversation, but he was a man of integrity with strong views - if only the television (news) had ears. 


He was a big fan of his “cookie cake-ies,” Lindor milk chocolates, and a good gravy. His life has been quite extraordinary as he often described most things he could not comprehend as "mind-boggling". 


When Alta and Bela retired, they loved spending time with their grandchildren and enjoyed traveling. 


Bela was preceded in death by his wife Alta; parents Bela and Sofi Lahner; his Aunt and Uncle Helen and Julius Czako; his brother-in-law Ron Kieffer; son-in law-Mark Hays; and grandson Spencer Betke.


He is survived by his daughters: Christine (Mark) Webster, Julie (Ray) Jenkins, and Carolyn (Tony) Betke; his grandchildren: Sarah (Andrew) Sumwalt, Jacob Webster, James (Olivia) Jenkins, Cooper Betke, Andrew Jenkins, and Cameron Betke, his sister Suzanna (Ron) King; his cousin Julius Czako and many cousins in Hungary; his sister-in-law Charlotte Kieffer; and many relatives all over the world.


A memorial service will be held Saturday, April 20, 2024 at 11:00am at First United Methodist Church of Kalamazoo, 212 S Park St, Kalamazoo, MI 49007, where family will greet friends from 10:00am until the time of the service. 


In lieu of flowers contributions can be made to Kalamazoo First United Methodist Church.


To share a memory or leave a condolence for the family visit https://www.langelands.com.
To order memorial trees in memory of Bela Lahner, please visit our tree store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Memorial Gathering

Saturday, April 20, 2024

10:00 - 11:00 am (Eastern time)

First United Methodist Church of Kalamazoo

212 S Park St, Kalamazoo, MI 49007

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Memorial Service

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Starts at 11:00 am (Eastern time)

First United Methodist Church of Kalamazoo

212 S Park St, Kalamazoo, MI 49007

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

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