LaVerne Cleo Hettinger, 84, passed away at his home Sunday morning, March 22nd, 2020. He was born February 11th, 1936 in Kalamazoo, Michigan, a son of Cleo and Muriel (Lester) Hettinger.
Vern was preceded in death by his parents; a brother, Eddie Hettinger; and two grandsons, Jonathan Braman and Andrew Babcock. On October 14th, 1955, Vern married the former Lois Hamilton, who survives. Also surviving are five children, Debra (James) Thompson, Kerry (Celeste) Hettinger, Edwin (Colleen) Hettinger, Pamela (Raymond) Babcock and Michael Alan Hettinger; 14 grandchildren, Christopher Thompson, Peter Thompson, Grace (Matt) Rathburn, Kerry Hettinger II, Saryn (Heinz) Ulrich, Elizabeth (Nate) Robinson, Mollie Hettinger, Taylor Braman, Joshua Babcock, Christine Babcock, Timothy Babcock, Alan Hettinger, Emma Hettinger and Benjamin Hettinger; seven great-grandchildren, Ian Hettinger, Zachary Hettinger, Kylie Hettinger, Linden Ulrich, Luke Ulrich, Murphy Ulrich and Gabriel Robinson; three siblings, Jackie (Will) Hamilton, Gary (Carolyn) Hettinger and Sharon (Dan) Fry; and several nieces and nephews.
Vern Hettinger passed from this earth to heaven on Sunday, March 22nd, 2020 after fighting a long battle with cancer. He will be remembered for his mental toughness and faith in God. He had lived a good life having become a pastor of the Free Methodist Church in mid-life. He had a great love of God, family, friends, and many beloved dogs.
After graduating from Comstock High School in 1955, Vern joined the United States Navy. During this time, he married the love of his life, Lois Hamilton. After his service in the Navy they returned to Kalamazoo, MI. Vern began working at the First National Bank as a computer programmer and systems analyst. During this time, he developed an interest in tropical fish and opened The Fish Bowl on Portage Rd in Kalamazoo, expanding to include small animals and exotic birds. The Fish Bowl was the first pet shop in Kalamazoo to offer saltwater fish. This was a family business with Lois and all five children working in the store.
As a result of the recession of 1973 and the subsequent closing of The Fish Bowl, Vern worked for JC Penny's in management of the Men's Department. During this time, Vern was called by God into the ministry.
He then became an ordained Elder in the Free Methodist Church. Vern pastored Free Methodist Churches in South Haven; Battle Creek, where a new church was constructed; then at the Albion FMC. He loved his time in service to God and the church, which was blessed by God.
After his retirement, Vern and Lois returned to Kalamazoo. Vern then spent many years working in his son's law firm as their bookkeeper. He loved working alongside his sons. He was very close with all his grandchildren giving each one their own nickname and officiating at the weddings of three granddaughters and their husbands. Vern loved attending all the family gatherings including a weekly family lunch on Fridays.
One of his favorite hobbies was raising Epiphyllum Cacti in his greenhouse and backyard as weather permitted, his Epi friends often wondered how he could make anything grow in cold Kalamazoo, MI! He belonged to The Epiphyllum Society of America. Vern and Lois traveled to California and Florida to visit friends of that society. There are three Epi's named after Vern: Vern Hettinger; Pastor Vern; and Banbury Boy.
He was a long-time member of the Portage Free Methodist Church now known as the Renovation Church. There he enjoyed the friendships of many close friends spanning multiple decades. Vern fought cancer since being diagnosed in 2007. Many doctors have worked with him during these years. The family is very grateful for all their efforts that helped give us all the extra years with him. He will be greatly missed by all his family and friends including his little Cairn Terrier, Duffy.
Private graveside services will be held in Portage South Cemetery. A memorial service will be held later this year. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the Renovation Church, West Michigan Cancer Center or the American Heart Association. Arrangements are entrusted to Langeland Family Funeral Homes Burial & Cremation Services, 622 S Burdick St, Kalamazoo MI 49007. To view Vern's personalized web page, please visit: https://www.langelands.com
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West Michigan Cancer Center
200 North Park Street, Kalamazoo MI 49007
American Heart Association
1715 West Centre Ave., Portage MI 49024