Honoring Tradition.
Celebrating Life.

James Kurtz

February 18, 1939 - September 5, 2020
Belmont, MI



Wednesday, September 9, 2020
12:00 PM to 2:00 PM EDT
West Cannon Baptist Church


Wednesday, September 9, 2020
2:00 PM EDT
West Cannon Baptist Church
5760 Cannonsburg Road NE
Belmont, MI 49306


At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.

Faith Hospice
2100 Raybrook Drive SE, Suite 300
Grand Rapids, MI 49546
(616) 235-5113
Driving Directions
Web Site


Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.

Ball Park Floral
8 Valley Ave.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
(616) 459-3409
Driving Directions
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


Jim Kurtz lived a full life. Social and outgoing, he made many lasting friendships over the years. A hard worker, he provided for his family working as a printer at Eerdmans Publishing. He worked there for forty-two years; only missing four days of work during his entire career. As much as he valued his work, his greatest love were his friends and family. Nothing brought him greater joy than the moments he spent with them. Jim will be remembered for his genuine love of the Lord and will be deeply missed by his loved ones.

In the year 1939, Lou Gehrig retired from the New York Yankees, the much-loved classic film, The Wizard of Oz held its Hollywood premiere, and the first commercial air flight crossed the Atlantic Ocean. On February 18th of that same year, Glenn and Fanny “Valier” (Johnson) Kurtz welcomed home their newborn son, James, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Joining his eight year old sister, Joan, his birth brought much happiness to the family home.

Growing up on the NE side of Grand Rapids, the family made their home on Burr Oak, and later on Graceland. Jim had a childhood filled with many happy memories; being spoiled by his sister and spending time with the family pet, a Cocker Spaniel named Rusty. His family attended Berean Baptist Church, and a strong set of values was instilled in him at an early age. He spent a sizable amount of time working on cars with his father, who was a mechanic by trade. By the time he was old enough to get into mischief, he had learned how to roll back the odometer so that he and his friends could take their parents’ car out for a spin! As an adolescent he had many fond memories of going hunting in Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula with his father and friends. One year, the family moved to Florida and Jim helped his father build a home there. They returned to Grand Rapids a year later, settling on Union Street NE. As a teenager, Jim took a job at a local market on Knapp Street, and graduated with the Class of 1956 from Creston High School. Well-liked by his classmates, he kept many friendships from these years throughout his life.

During high school, Jim met a girl named Carol Libbey. They were smitten from the start and joined in marriage in 1958. Together they raised two children; Deborah and Steve. As a dad, he was strong on discipline and had to have order. He was a man of routine and the family grew accustomed to him cleaning and washing the car on Saturdays so it was in pristine condition for church on Sundays. He especially loved polishing the chrome wheels, and truth be told, he loved polishing chrome anything. Jim also expected to have roast each Sunday at dinner which had to be ready in time for him to watch the NASCAR race. His passions were cars and racing. During these early years, he and his friends built Dune Buggies and enjoyed cruising the Silver Lake Sand Dunes on Saturday afternoons, returning home in time to go to the local races. His love of the sport rubbed off on his son, Steve, and the two of them enjoyed watching races together for many years. Although he and Carol enjoyed their years as parents, after eighteen years together, their marriage ended.

Jim met his longtime love, Barb, while attending a social gathering on Silver Lake in Rockford, where Jim and Steve lived at the time. They married shortly thereafter, creating a blended family of seven. Barb was familiar with his regimented ways and supported his many hobbies. Their family grew to include grandchildren, and Jim and Barb enjoyed countless days on the lake with family and friends, riding Sea-Doo’s and pulling the kids behind the boat. Jim’s youngest grandson shared his passion for racing and Jim loved cheering him on. When Nick began driving a go-cart, Jim decided to get a matching one so they could race together! Later, Jim was delighted to have Nick driving car #79 and he rarely missed a race. He placed himself in charge of shining up the wheels on the car hauler, and never have there been sharper rims! He was so proud of all of his grandchildren and relished his times with them, especially in his later years.

Jim and Barb both loved the water and began spending their winters near Tampa, Florida. They loved to socialize and made many lasting friendships there. Once he was retired, their time in Florida grew to include several months at a time. Jim enjoyed his morning routine of having coffee with the men at the community clubhouse. Eventually, he started joining the locals at Mr. Burger back in Grand Rapids and enjoyed daily conversation before starting his day. Sadly, after thirty-two years together, Barb passed away in 2010, the same year Jim lost one of his best friends, John Harrington.

After Barb’s death, Jim was especially lucky to hit it off with John’s widow, Dawn. Having known one another for much of their lives as well as sharing so much in common, they married a year later. Jim and Dawn enjoyed camping together and spending time with their families, and especially cherished seeing their great-grandchildren. He bought property in Cedar Springs, and loved spending time at his “hobby farm”, where he liked to hunt and tinker with projects. Jim’s deepest desire though was to love the Lord and he did so to the best of his abilities. He prayed for his family daily and wanted each of them to know the Lord. May his many special friends and loved ones be comforted in knowing that he is now at peace, and may his wonderful collection of memories be eternal.

God’s faithfulness to Jim Kurtz was made complete when he ushered him into His Heavenly home on Saturday evening, September 5, 2020 to meet his Lord and Savior face to face and reunited with loved ones gone before him. Jim was an active member of West Cannon Baptist Church. He was preceded in death by his parents; his sister, Joan Reeser; niece, Marie Ellen Reeser; and past wife, Barbara Kurtz. Jim is survived by his wife, Dawn Harrington- Kurtz; son, Steve (Kelly); daughter, Deborah Kurtz; step daughters, Amy Bird and Julie Nelson; adored grandchildren, Steven Glenn (Jessica) Kurtz, Nicholas (Kristine) Kurtz, Samantha VeltKamp, Brooke Fominaya (Tony), Jonathon Wakeland (Kyla), Brittni Bird, Jordan Nelson, Trevor Kilpatrick (Adrionna) Ryan Kilpatrick, Jillayne Helmholdt (Aaron); 13 great grandchildren; extended family and many friends. His family wishes to thank the staff at Lacks Cancer Center – Mercy Health 3rd Floor nurses and Faith Hospice who were involved in his treatment and end of life care. A memorial service celebration of Jim’s life will be held at West Cannon Baptist Church on Wednesday, September 9 at 2 PM, where friends are invited to visit with his family beginning at 12 Noon. Masks will be required. For those who wish, memorial contributions to Faith Hospice are appreciated. To share a memory or photo, or to sign his guestbook, visit www.heritagelifestory.com