Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Jeffrey Bryan Betlewski

IRONWOOD, Mich. – Jeffrey Bryan Betlewski, 73, of Ironwood, formerly of Bessemer, passed away on Tuesday, June 25, 2024, at Aspirus St. Luke's Hospital in Duluth, Minnesota.

Jeffrey was born on March 6, 1951, in Wakefield, a son of Edward and Betty (VanHolla) Betlewski. He attended A.D. Johnston High School in Bessemer and graduated in 1969. He continued his education at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti and earned a bachelor of science degree in 1974.

Upon graduation at EMU, Jeffrey enlisted as a VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) Volunteer in Houston, Texas. For five years, he was the director of community services. He assisted in one of the most blighted and poverty-stricken communities in the greater Houston area.

Jeffrey was then recruited into the greater Houston's Young Men's Christian Association. In executive positions, his 20-year YMCA career took him from Houston to Des Moines, Iowa, then to Orlando, Florida, and finally to Grand Rapids where he retired as the chief operating officer of the greater Grand Rapids YMCA.

While he was still in the profession, Jeffrey was selected as first class Leadership Houston by the Houston Chamber of Commerce, a finalist in Houston's five outstanding young men and an Eagle Reward recipient of the YMCA of the USA.

Significantly to the leadership programs, Jeffrey was committed to the Texas Crippled Children's Camp and Houston's Lions Eye Bank. He went on to be president of the Houston Central Lions Club in 1987 and president of the Des Moines Host Lions Club in 1994. In Orlando, he worked himself through the chairs to the prestigious position of an exalted ruler at the Orlando Elks Lodge.

Returning home, Jeffrey had a very successful tenure at the Gogebic-Ontonagon Community Action Agency. For more than 10 years, he established housing and homeless programs for the Western Upper Peninsula and Gogebic and Ontonagon counties.

Jeffrey was an avid outdoorsman, hunter and fisherman. He enjoyed all sports and was especially loyal to Tom Brady and the University of Michigan football.

Jeffrey is survived by four children, twin daughters, Sister Thomas Aquinas, of the Dominican Order and Sister Mary Jacinta, of the Poor Clares, daughter, Clare, Lockhart, Texas, and son, Kieran, Nacogdoches, Texas; a grandson, Lucas; a granddaughter, Chanel; his former wife, Tracy; two brothers, Mike (Terri) and David (Katie); a sister, Shelly Berwald; an aunt, Harriet Hallquist; an uncle, Kenneth VanHolla; and many nieces and nephews.

He was predeceased by his parents.

Rite of Committal will be held on Saturday, June 29, at 11 a.m., at the Hillcrest Cemetery in Bessemer. The Rev. Dominic Agyapong will preside. Interment will follow.

Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to Jerald Rocco, owner and manager of Lakeside Memorial Chapel Inc., in Wakefield. Condolences may be expressed online at lakesidememorialchapel.com.

 
 
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