Jay “Scott” Levene cried an Angel of Death tear as a symbol of his final goodbye Monday, January 16, 2023. Scott was a patient for the last several weeks in the Mary Brigh Building - St. Mary’s Campus of Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. His wife, Robyn and daughter Laura were with him when his Earth journey concluded.
Scott was preceded in death by his parents, Jack, and Betty B. (Sklansky) Levene; sister, Caryn K. (Levene) Wilson; brother, John T. Northrop; father- and mother-in-law, Richard D., and Winifred B Meinert; and brothers-in-laws, Frederick A. Walker, Richard T. Meinert, Orrin E. Sharp, and W. Mac Howard. He is survived by his wife, Robyn D. (Meinert) Levene; daughter, Laura B. Levene; mother, Dorothy A. (Coash-Northrop) Levene; sisters, Rae Lee Howard, Lori & Glen Putman, Paula M. & Arthur Bolder; Annie M. & Marc Mason; brother, Joseph P. Northrop; sisters-in-laws, Wendy B. Sharp, Pamela A. & Dennis Carr, and Carol (Vestal, Walker) & Jim Fillmore; aunt and uncle, Susan (Meinert) & Will Lutterman; and many cousins, nieces, nephews, grandnieces, grandnephews, and one great-grandnephew.
Scott never gave up. He fought and overcame many heart health issues during his 66 years of life. He was born with a VSD of his heart. At age two he had open heart surgery to repair it. As a young adolescent, Scott became pacemaker dependent. Scott was the first person under the age of 18 and the third person in the United States to have a nuclear pacemaker implanted. After another open-heart surgery, as an adult, Scott developed heart failure. He lived with that for 5 years. On January 4, 2014, Scott was given a second chance at life. He had a heart and kidney transplant at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. The years he gained as a transplant recipient allowed him to see his daughter graduate from University of Alabama and grow into adulthood. More family memories were created with him in them. His continued dedication in helping others became more enhanced.
A native of Kalamazoo, Scott was born on December 5, 1956, to Betty and Jack Levene in Kalamazoo, MI. While attending Portage Northern High School, Scott made school history. He was the first student ever to create a profit for their annual yearbook by the number of ads he sold. After graduating in 1975, Scott went on to study business administration and computer programing at Western Michigan University.
After graduating, Scott continued to work at the family business - I.H.S. Distributing Company, Inc. (Miller Beer and Beverage Distribution warehouse). Scott was a successful, articulate businessman and leader. He was well respected among his constituents. While others handled the public sector of the company; as president, Scott was in the executive chair. He shared ownership of IHS Distributing Company, Inc. with his two sisters. Scott and his sisters were the 3rd generation who ran and operated their family business. He continued his leadership, diverse business experience and knowledge in the beer industry until he retired in 2012. After Scott retired, he continued to be a mentor in guiding the fourth family generation into managing the business.
In the late 1970’s Scott helped plan, help build, and implement IHS’s first ever computer system. Pre-made programs were not available back then. So, Scott wrote the programs for them. Those programs tracked beer inventory, assimilated financial reports, product sales and end of day driver check ins. His programs were used for over 12 years. Continued updates were done along the way. Some other beer distributing companies modeled their computer programs after the ones he wrote. Scott loved his family business. He loved sharing its’ history and legacy. It meant everything to him. Retiring left a hole in his heart.
Scott and his wife met in junior high school. Although they didn’t date until after high school graduation, a special connection was always there. Scott started dating Robyn in 1978. While in his car one sunny, warm, windy day, Scott spotted Robyn walking down the sidewalk in downtown Kalamazoo. He quickly pulled into an empty parking space, hopped out of his car, and casually walked towards her. He quickly summoned a plan to bump into her and ask her out. They married June 21, 1981, at the Congregation of Moses in Kalamazoo. Robyn was the love of his life. He adored her and was proud to be her partner. Together they attended many community social functions and events. Scott always felt that the two of them complimented each other. In June of 1993 they had a beautiful baby girl. Laura was the twinkle of his eye and the sparkle in his heart.
Scott believed his mission in his life was to help others. He employed himself in several non-profit organizations. His leadership and insightfulness in these organizations helped to make major impacts on their continued success. Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association, Big Brothers, Big Sisters, United States Sail and Power Squadrons, Elizabeth Upjohn Community Healing Center, and Congregation of Moses were some of those. Within these organizations Scott chaired various committees. He chaired mostly Finance Committees; he was instrumental in creating high profit fund raisers.
Scott was a lifelong member of the Congregation of Moses. Scott was a past President of Congregation of Moses, He worked on The Colef Grant Funding committee. He was an intricate part of the committee that developed an endowment fund program for Congregation of Moses. He was instrumental in creating fund raisers. They were among the highest profit-making fund raisers COM ever had. Scott gave his heart and soul to whatever he was involved in.
His mentoring and helping others continued by helping, supporting and guiding individuals who were friends with Dr. Bob and Bill Wilson.
Importance of their success impacted life changing decisions. Scott was besties with Dr. Bob and Bill Wilson for 36 years. He was wise, sincere, and very well respected in their circle of friends.
Scott and Robyn loved sailing and boating. They had two sailboats and one 40-foot motor yacht during their 41½ year marriage. Scott was always the captain, Robyn the first mate and Laura the crew. Their boats were kept in South Haven. Their sailing and cruising journeys took them North under the Mackinac Bridge, to Mackinac Island, and through the Straits of Mackinac. South to Chicago Harbors, West to Beaver Island, and Green Bay, WI, and many ports along the way.
When not boating, Scott and his family enjoyed traveling. They traveled internationally and in the United States.
Scott enjoyed attending and watching sporting events. He especially loved watching University of Alabama play football. During Laura’s years at Bama, Scott and his family traveled to watch Alabama play in the semifinals for College Football Championship games and to watch Alabama play in a SEC Championship game. ROLL TIDE!
Scott and Robyn loved entertaining, whether on their boats, their South Haven home, or their home in Kalamazoo. Their elaborate annual Super Bowl Parties were always a hit. Small home tailgate parties, plays and concerts were favorites too.
Scott embraced life and in everything he did. He always had a story to tell or some type of humor to offer. One story is actress Debbie Reynolds held him on her lap as a baby, while on a trip with his parents. Another story Scott shared was when he once rode in an elevator with Peter Cetera (from the group Chicago). They introduced each other. That same evening, they both were at the hotel bar. Peter introduced Scott as an old-time friend. A more recent story is: While at Mayo Clinic in 2014 recovering from receiving his transplanted organs; Scott was waiting in the hall, after completing a test, to be returned to his hospital room. A nurse came up to Scott and asked how did it feel? Scott questioned her. She replied: The entourage that walked past you was the Dali Lama. You were just blessed by him. That is a true story! …. and blessed he was.
Visitation will be held Thursday, January 26, 2023, from 4-8 PM at Langeland Family Funeral Homes Burial & Cremation Services, 3926 S. 9th St, Kalamazoo MI 49009 where services will be held 11AM Friday, January 27, 2023. Interment will follow in Jewish Riverside Cemetery. Rabbi Harvey Spivak and Pastor Jim Dyke will lead services. The pallbearers will be Scott’s brother, Joe Northrup; life-long best friend, Jim Koole; and nephews, Ian Meinert, Andy Putman, Jeff Patterson, and Jason Howard. In lieu of flowers please consider a gift in Scott’s memory to The Elizabeth Upjohn Community Healing Center or The Alano Club. To view Scott’s personalized web page, please visit https://www.langelands.com