James L. Betchek, 85, of Berrien Springs

Published 7:09 pm Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Died: Sept. 22, 2013

James L. Betchek, long-time resident of Berrien Springs, passed away Sunday, September 22, 2013 at the age of 85.



Jim was a star athlete at Berrien Springs High School in the 1940’s in many sports, but excelled and set records in basketball.

As a college freshman, he attended the University of Michigan and in his words, “had the privilege” of playing football there.  Following his father’s death, he transferred to Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, continuing his career in athletics and majoring in education.

After graduation, Jim moved to the Upper Peninsula where he taught and coached sports in both Ironwood and Escanaba High Schools, leading basketball teams to several championships.

After a stint in the U. S. Army (where he kept America safe by playing basketball), Jim returned to his beloved Berrien Springs to work in various businesses, most notably the Upjohn Company in their polyurethane foam division, CPR.

In 1971 Jim established his own company in the urethane foam industry, Jameson Chemical, Inc.  Along with his son, Joe, the company grew from a small wholesaler and applicator supplier to what is now known as the Jameson Company, Ltd. in Niles, a highly successful established business.

Jameson Company is housed on the former MC/NYC railroad hotel and roundhouse property in Niles.  Built in 1919, Jim purchased this then derelict property in the early 1970’s, restoring it to its former glory.  This historic property owes its newfound life to Jim, Joe and the Jameson Company.

Jim is survived by his son, Joe (Michelle) Betchek of Niles; stepdaughters, Jane (Terry) Baird of Taipei, Taiwan, and Victoria Anderson of Palm Springs, California; granddaughters, Alicia Betchek of Niles and Dana (Drew) Socia of Gaylord, Michigan; great-grandchildren, Kaleb and Aubreigh; niece, Karen Connor; and great-niece Melissa Connor-Johnson Oakley of Tustin, California.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Joyce.

A service will be held at 2 p.m. Monday, September 30, at the Allred Funeral Home in Berrien Springs.   Online messages may be left for the family at www.allredfuneralhome.com.  In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in his honor to Fernwood Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve in Buchanan.