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Michael Charles Betka

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Betka, Michael Charles
Michael Charles Betka, age 77 of Scottsdale, Arizona passed away peacefully on August 26, 2015 surrounded by his loving family. Mike was born on February 23, 1938 in Ludington, MI to Edwin and Beatrice (Abrahamson) Betka. He was the third of eleven children, all raised in Denver, CO. He graduated from Regis High School and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps Reserve where he served honorably for eight years. Concurrent with his service in the USMC reserves, Mike joined Martin Marietta where he worked as a material manager and site activation manager at several Titan ICBM sites located throughout the western United States. One of these sites was in Tucson, where he and Lynn fell in love with Arizona and in 1964 the state became their permanent home. Mike earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management from ASU in 1968 and was forever a Sun Devil fan. He took an active part in Republican politics serving as District Chairman and served on the Executive Guidance Committee. He was a past president of Tempe Toastmasters and served on many other boards and committees. Mike joined Talley Industries, Inc. in 1968 as a government contract administrator. By early 1983, Mike had risen through the ranks to become the President and General Manager of Talley Defense, Inc. a wholly owned subsidiary of Talley. Under his leadership, an important development for the company was its success in the automotive air bag business. As a result Talley formed a new company, Talley Automotive Products, Inc. to handle the rapidly expanding air bag production and Mike was named President and General Manager of the newly formed subsidiary that was eventually sold to TRW. Mike remained at the helm of both operations until he decided to leave in the early 1990s when TRW asked him to move from sunny Arizona to snowy Detroit. Following a brief stint of consulting work for many of his former colleagues, Mike accepted a position with Universal Propulsion Inc. as the Executive Vice President and General Manager of its Automotive Products Division. Through the years Mike took time to enjoy his family on skiing trips and various hiking trips in the Grand Canyon and Superstition Mountains. He and his wife, Lynn enjoyed many travels throughout Europe and Japan. He loved and delighted in his five grandchildren, attending swim meets, piano recitals, ball games, soccer and volleyball games, plays and graduation ceremonies. Mike enjoyed hosting his many brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, in-laws, and their families showing them his beloved Arizona. As much as he loved Arizona, he found that summers were more comfortable along the California coast. He and Lynn spent many Julys in Carmel-by-the-Sea where Mike loved to walk along the beach and where they were the consummate hosts to family and many friends. He is survived by his loving wife Lynn of 55 years and the family he was so proud of: daughter Deborah Waggoner and her husband Dan of Glendale, AZ; son Dan Betka and his wife Wendy of Keller, TX; grandchildren Marc, Sarah and Lauren Waggoner; Olivia and Andrea Betka; brothers and sisters Dan (Judy), Marilyn (George) Lowe, Jim, Richard (Charyn), Nancy Sedillo, John (Cheryl) and Pete (Patti). Preceding him in death were his parents, sisters Beverly Putzi and Mary Sue Betka, infant brother baby John Betka, sister-in-law Ina Betka, and brother-in-law Gustavo Sedillo. Among the many things Mike will be remembered for was his great sense of humor and his love for his family. His sense of humor was frequently subtle, ever quick and always genuine, often culminating with tears of laughter welling in his eyes. It was a humor he maintained to the very end when the tears that flowed were from the eyes of those that had been gifted with the opportunity to share the life of this wonderful man. Not overly gifted as a vocalist, he was never afraid to offer up a song or two until finally hitting on a song that he sang without peer. His lofty rendition of "Wandrin' Star" originally sung by Lee Marvin in the movie "Paint Your Wagon," was one he loved most. His favorite verse was: "Do I know where hell is, hell is in Hello Heaven is good-by forever, it's time for me to go I was born under a wandrin' star A wandrin', wandrin' star" In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to The Salvation Army, St. Mary's Food Bank or Americare Hospice. Email deborah.waggoner@icloud.com re: pending memorial service.


Published in The Arizona Republic from Sept. 6 to Sept. 9, 2015
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