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James Mack Keckler of Kalamazoo, Michigan and Naples, Florida died Sunday November 24, 2019 at home surrounded by family. He was born in Auburn, Indiana, September 6, 1925 to Cecil Andrew and Doris Helen (Pogue) Keckler. After graduating from Angola High School in 1943 he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Force and served during WW II. Following his time in the service he attended Hillsdale College where he met Grace Ellen Hartshorn of Bad Axe, Michigan. They married September 13, 1947.

Jim worked for over sixty years in the grocery business. With their young family, he and Ellen moved to married housing in East Lansing where he graduated from Michigan State University’s Food Management Program. He had already managed several stores for the Kroger company in Indiana and Ohio and also worked as a buyer in their corporate division. Later he worked for Super Food Services in Bad Axe, Michigan and in 1954 opened his first IGA store in Caro, Michigan. In 1975 he and Ellen moved to Southwest Michigan and opened an IGA store in Parchment. Over the years, along with his sons, he would operate IGA, Ben Franklin, and Save-A-Lot stores in Caro, South Haven, Parchment and Kalamazoo.

He is survived by his children James A. (Shari Wiltse) Keckler, Jeanne (James Burford) Keckler, and John (Erica Lewis) Keckler, his daughter-in-law Kathleen Dykzeul Keckler and his sister-in- law Harriet (Jack) Rochefort. He is survived by his grandchildren Charles (Angela) Keckler, Joseph Keckler, Catherine (Dave) Dandel, Liza (Mike Min) Keckler. James R. (Teresa) Keckler, Mary Ellen Davis (Billy Bernhardt), Laura Crabiel, Malena (Mikael) Kennedy, Michael (Beatrix Lorber) Cadiz, Zayda (Cole) Brandon, Jaxon, Gabriel, Izabelle, and Trevor Keckler. He is also survived by his great grandchildren: Alex, Geneva, Allie, Coco, Copper, Caroline, Brooke, Micah, Ashley, Mila, Lilian, Hazel and Cash, and many nephews and nieces.

He was preceded in death by his wife Ellen in 1993. He was also preceded in death by a daughter Karen Ann Keckler (Davis) and a son Robert Mack Keckler; by his parents; his sister and brother-in-law Betty and Don Osborn; his brother and sister-in-law John and Inez (McBride) Keckler; his stepbrother John McBride; his sister-in-law and brother-in-law Joann (Hartshorn) and Jerry Rogers; his brother-in-law Art Hartshorn; and his mother-in-law and father-in-law Iris and Arthur Hartshorn.

He was a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Caro and of the First Presbyterian Church of Kalamazoo. He was also a member of many service organizations over the years. He played bridge his entire life, often traveling to take part in tournaments. When he was seventy he took up oil painting, creating dozens of paintings over the next twenty years.

Special thanks to the professional staff of Elara Caring Hospice of Kalamazoo.

A memorial service will be held Wednesday, December 11th at 2:00 PM at the First Presbyterian Church in Kalamazoo with The Rev. Dr. Seth Wheeldreyer officiating. Visitation with the family will follow in the gathering room. Memorials may be directed to the First Presbyterian Church of Kalamazoo.

To send a message of sympathy to the family, sign Jim’s online guestbook, or to share a favorite memory, please visit: www.MichiganCremation.com.

Cremation arrangements are entrusted to Michigan Cremation & Funeral Care, Grand Rapids, exclusive providers of Veterans Funeral Care.

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1 Comment

  1. Roberta Allen on December 18, 2019 at 3:16 pm

    Dear Kecklers,

    My neighbor at The Meadows for about five years, Jim was one of the finest men I have ever had the fortune to meet. His kindness, zest for life, spirituality, and good humor will be missed but remembered. And his art! Such a talented, creative man. Please accept my wishes of condolence and gratitude for his thoughtfulness over those few years.

    Roberta Allen



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