Obituaries

Dave Brown, 70, Vicksburg, passed away July 23 after he lost a valiant fight with multiple myeloma. Dave was a retired lineman for an electric company. He served in the military, where he received an honorable discharge. Dave loved his family and had a passion for building vehicles. That passion for vehicles led him to be a member of the Rod Benders of West Michigan, where he made many great friends over the years. Dave was preceded in death by his mother, Mildred Romig. Dave is survived by his wife Nancy; sons Mike (Nicole) Brown and Scott (Jen) Brown; seven grandchildren; sister Sharon Wilson; nephews Gary and Larry Hesher; and an extended family. To honor Dave’s wishes, there will not be a funeral or visitation. Family members will update the Avink Funeral home website at a later time with information where Dave will be laid to rest where you can go pay your respects in person.

Deana Louise Klitch Butler, Vicksburg, passed away August 4 at Borgess Hospital in Kalamazoo. Deana was born September 21, 1957, the youngest of six children, to Michael and Dolores Klitch in Paw Paw. Those who knew Deana will always remember what an avid reader she was. In fact, her daughter had said, “Her living room looked like a used book store.” Deana enjoyed gardening with her husband and often made salsa from their garden to share with friends and family. She loved animals and left behind three fur babies, Rogue, Stubby and Ozzy. Deana graduated in 1974 from Dawntreader High School in Kalamazoo. She took nursing classes and worked at the Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital for 20 years. Deana is survived by Mike, her husband of 28 years. They loved trips to South Haven and spending time with their grandson, DJ. Deana is also survived by her daughter, Michele (Dave) Rigozzi lV of Coloma, Mich.; grandson DJ Rigozzii V, also of Coloma; mother-in-law Gloria Butler of Vicksburg; nephew Eric Klitch of Kalamazoo; sisters Mary (Alan) Atherly of Ames, Iowa and Patricia (William) Sprague of Richland; sisters-in-law Maria Klitch of Jacksonville, Fla. and Peg Klitch of Kalamazoo. She was preceded in death by her brothers, Edward, Mike, and Thomas; and parents Michael and Dolores. Donations may go to National Kidney Foundation or SPCA of Kalamazoo. Visit her page at mccowensecord.com.

Barbara A. Comstock, 86, Scotts, passed away July 21. Barbara was born on November 14, 1931, in Lafayette, Ind. Raised by a single mother, Viola Sysinger, Barbara learned the value of hard work as her mother worked in a factory, cleaned homes, and did whatever else was necessary in order to survive. Barbara graduated in the Adult Education Program in 1988 from Vicksburg High School, the same year as her youngest daughter, Marianna. She spent 26 years working as a rural postal carrier. She was a member of Lakeland Reformed Church, where she volunteered in the Clothes Closet and Stephen’s Ministry with her husband, Joseph. Barb enjoyed quilting and gardening. She loved Johnny Cash and classic country western music. She is survived by sons Joseph Comstock, of Scotts; Jonathan (Victoria) Comstock, of Hastings; daughter Marianna (Bryan) Poggione-Proper, of Mattawan; 18 grandchildren and 15 great children. She was preceded in death by her husband, Joseph in 2004; and two children, Clara Mutch and Jeffrey Comstock. Visit her page at mccowensecord.com. Donations may go to Kalamazoo Michigan Commission for the Blind. The family was assisted by McGowen & Secord Funeral Home, Vicksburg.

Elwyn G. Dodgson, 89, passed away May 13 at his home. He was born in Schoolcraft Township on February 15, 1929 to John and Sarah (Belle) Dodgson. He graduated from Athens High School in 1948. He married the former Doris Ann Brockway in Galien, Mich. The couple was married for 55 years until her death in 2015. Elwyn is survived by his children, Jerry (Dawn) Dodgson and his daughter, Julie (John) Cornett; a grandson, Cody Burdick of Leonidas. He was preceded in death by his children, Susan, Andy and Mary Dodgson.

Paul Richard Evans, 50, Schoolcraft, passed away July 8 at Rose Arbor in Kalamazoo. Paul was born March 2, 1968, the son of Paul D. and Ruth (Trimmer) Evans. He attended Vicksburg schools until his senior year when he moved to Three Rivers, graduating in the class of 1987. On July 23, 1994 he married the love of his life, Laurie Nowakowski. Paul loved both his close and extended family. He was a social butterfly; it was said that Paul never met a stranger. He was an avid hunter and fisherman and enjoyed listening to rock’n’roll. He was preceded in his passing by his father, Paul Dewey Evans. Paul leaves to cherish his loving memory, his wife, Laurie Evans, daughters Haley and Holly Evans; son Jacob Evans; sisters Lisa (Leroy) Heikes and Amy (Roger) Stahl; special nieces and nephews Allison Singh, Dokota, Breanna, Melinda, Autumn, Bonnie, Ginny and Aloh. Donations may go to the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation or to the Family of Paul Evans c/o Laurie Evans. Envelopes are available at the Hohner Funeral Home. Visit his page at hohnerfh.com.

Fletcher T. Everett, 85, Vicksburg, died Aug. 1 at the Laurels of Galesburg where he had resided the past four months. He was born near Centreville on March 16, 1933, the son of the late Arthur and Eula (Schofield) Everett. He graduated from Vicksburg High School with the class of 1951. Fletcher was the parts manager at Krum Chevrolet in Vicksburg for several years, and later was a service technician for the Upjohn Company. Fletcher loved horses and displayed many mules, ponies, and draft horses at the county fair. He was a caller at local square dances and enjoyed camping with his family. He was a member of Amazing Grace Baptist Fellowship in Portage and a former member of the Schoolcraft Eagles Lodge 3531. Fletcher is survived by four children, Julie (Charles) Barnes of Mendon, Diane (Cliff) Austin, Charlene Smith, and Dan Everett, all of Vicksburg; grandchildren Lorrie (Jay) Hagenbuch, Doug (Lilla) Barnes, Darcey (Nate) Sehy, Bradley (Alexis) Brockway, Aaron Smith, Andy Smith, and Cody Everett; great-grandchildren Jaden Hoyt, Juliana Hagenbuch, Ty and Carson Barnes, Colton Sehy and Bella Brockway. He was preceded in death by his parents; a brother, Arthur Albert Everett; his first wife, Evelyn (Brewer) Everett in 1986; and wife, Thelma (Stuut) Everett in 2015. Donations may go to Southern Care Hospice. Assistance was provided by the Eickhoff Funeral Home of Mendon. Visit his page at eickhofffuneralhome.com

Ronald Bruce Gentry, 75, Mendon, went to be with the Lord Aug. 1. He was born in Three Rivers on Jan. 23, 1943, the son of John Raymond and Mary Ovella (Crow) Gentry. Ron graduated from Vicksburg High School in 1961 and attended North Central Bible College in Minneapolis, Minn. where he later became head of security. Twelve years later, he returned to Michigan and was employed at the Colmer Division of Maxitrol in Colon until failing health forced his retirement on 2008. Ron is survived by brothers Doug (Pat) Gentry of Casa Grande, Ariz. and Terry Gentry of Kalamazoo; sisters, Bet Jones of South Bend, Violet Spence of Three Rivers, Mary Patterson of Lansing and Sharon (Sam) Rial of Colon; and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; a sister, Althea Gentry; and a brother, Robert “Sonny” Gentry. In keeping with his wishes, cremation has been conducted. A memorial service is being planned for later and will be announced by the Eickhoff Funeral Home. Donations may go to International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, Feed the Hungry, or to the Jerusalem Prayer Team. Visit his page at eickhofffuneralhome.com.

Wilda Henderson, 69, Vicksburg, passed away August 16. Wilda grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and later moved to Vicksburg. She was a long-time member of the Lioness club and worked at Family Fare in Vicksburg for over 30 years. She loved traveling back to the UP to visit and spend quality time with her family, and she would often work at the camp store on Brevoort Lake. She enjoyed playing card games, especially yahtzee, and she also loved to read and do crafts such as cross stitching. Wilda is survived by her husband, James; children Mary Stevens, Jim (Denise) Henderson, Michael (Amy) Henderson; grandchildren Randi (Jordan), Dusty, Joey, Jeremy, Bailey, Trey, Jacob, Brendan, Drake; great-granddaughter Riley; special aunt Sharon (Bill) Painter; sister-in-law Sue Spencer; and several nieces and nephews. Wilda was preceded in death by her parents, John and Fawn Spencer; brother, John Spencer Jr.; and her sister, Dawn Buell. A funeral service was held on Wednesday, August 22 at the McCowen & Secord Family Funeral Home, Rupert-Durham Chapel. Visit her page at mccowensecord.com. Donations may go to South County Community Services.

Oscar Lewis Hunt Jr., Vicksburg, passed away August 11 surrounded by his family, friends and neighbors. Oscar was born July 17, 1935 in Kalamazoo, the son of Wilma (Hettinger) and Oscar Hunt, Sr. Oscar is survived by his son, Dale, of Vicksburg, his daughter, Linda (Richard) of Welaka, Fla. and Bear Lake, Mich., brothers Bill (Sue) of Vicksburg and Bob (Barb) of Texas Corners, sister-in-law Jackie Stoneburner of Schoolcraft, and numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by the love of his life, Joan (Chaddock) Hunt. Assisted by Avink Funeral Home, Schoolcraft.

Marjorie Ketchbaw-Burris (Rickard), 96, mom, grandma, great grandma and three times a great great grandma, Aunt Margie AKA “sweet pea,” passed away August 15. Marjorie was born on November 24, 1921 and adopted by James and Golda Rickard in Kalamazoo. She was preceded in death by her first husband, Roscoe (Pete) Ketchbaw, sons Michael and David Ketchbaw and second husband, Richard Burris. Marjorie is survived by sons Larry (Beverly) Ketchbaw and Daniel (Candace) Ketchbaw, many grandchildren, nieces and nephews. To meet Marjorie was to have an instant friend and don’t you dare pass an animal to pet or a child without having a lengthy conversation with them and their parents. She requested every meal and gift to be chocolate of some sort and said that her best friend was “Russell Stover”. To know her was to love her. No funeral or memorial services were held.

Victoria “Tori” Lafler, Vicksburg, passed away July 26. Tori’s family includes her husband, Willard Lafler; mother, Victoria Dean; children Timothy Lee Hatter, Robert Michael Hatter, Erick (Amber) James Hatter; step-children Joseph Alan (Laycie) Lafler, Michael Shane Lafler and Lisa Marie (Andrew) McCall; brothers Michael Joseph Dean and Robert John Dean; sister Catherine Marie Hazard; several step-grandchildren, and nieces and nephews. Tori was preceded in death by her father, Robert George Dean, and her brother James Clayton Dean. Tori was a wonderful and loving mother, daughter, sister and wife. She had an unending love for those around her with a passion for supporting those in her community, working at the Behavioral Health Services at Western Michigan University as a certified peer support specialist. A funeral service was held on Tuesday, July 31 at the McCowen & Secord Funeral Home. Visit her page at mccowensecord.com. Donations may go to St. Jude Children’s Hospital or Shriners Children’s Hospital.

Earl “Bud” Mason, 77, Vicksburg, passed away on August 21. Bud is survived by his wife, Jane Mason; children Michael R. (Natalie) Mason, Mark A. (Linda) Mason, Julie L. (Britt) Tasker; siblings William (Sandy) Mason, Annette (John) Ramirez, Nicholas (Floria) Mason, Eugene Mason, Shirley Mason, Patrick (Carol) Mason; grandchildren Zachary, Adam, Emma, Sean, Madelynn and Mason. Bud was preceded in death by his parents, William and Florence Mason. Bud grew up in Muskegon and later moved to Vicksburg, where he was a barber for almost 40 years. He was a member of the Vicksburg Lions Club for over 10 years and a member of the Third Christian Reformed Church. Bud served his country in the United States Army. Bud was very well known and loved by everyone he met. He will forever be remembered and missed by all who knew him. Visit his page at mccowensecord.com. The family was assisted by McCowen & Secord Family Funeral Home, Vicksburg. Donations may go to the Special Olympics or the Third Christian Reformed Church.

Gordon Foster Oswalt, 83, Vicksburg passed away surrounded by family August 20. He was born to Foster and Marion (Merrill) Oswalt on June 23, 1935. He attended the Harper country school and then Vicksburg High School where he was active in baseball, football, basketball, and the FFA. After graduating from high school in 1953, Gordon graduated from Michigan State University where he was active in livestock judging and the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity. A lifelong resident of the community he loved, Gordon was involved in many groups and organizations. He was a member of the Vicksburg United Methodist Church and a member of the Vicksburg Rotary Club since 1968. He was a regular cast member of the annual Showboat, a Paul Harris Fellow – the highest honor Rotary can bestow – and recipient of a Rotary Hero award for his work in the service club. He served on many local boards and committees, including the Vicksburg School Board and Brady Township Planning Commission. Gordon was a member of the Michigan Farm Bureau, Michigan Sheep Producers, Michigan Cattlemen’s Association, and the American Angus Association. He was on the Farm Credit Services Board of Directors and past chairman of the Kalamazoo Conservation Board. He was a 4-H leader and part of a bridge club. In addition to playing cards with pitch buddies and reading, he loved watching the Detroit Tigers and following his Michigan State Spartans. Gordon and his wife, Bonnie, hosted hundreds of MSU vet students and a very special German student, Andrea (Rainer) Ochmann, who has returned throughout the years to visit the family home. All who knew Gordon Foster Oswalt and his contagious zest for life would agree that there was no one quite like him. Quiet and strong, he was a hardworking man, deeply devoted to his family, friends, and community. Gordon’s family includes his wife, Bonnie; children Kathleen (Dennis) Forsythe, of Vicksburg; Scott (Sheryl) Oswalt, of Vicksburg; Steven (Kim) Oswalt, of Vicksburg; Daniel (Kelly) Oswalt, of Vicksburg; David (Dao) Oswalt, of Colorado; grandchildren Amanda (Matt) Nixon, Elizabeth (George) Palat, Andrew Forsythe; Allison (Luke) Boyea, Cameron (Jess Crittendon) Oswalt, Joseph Oswalt, Taylor (Austin) Eaton, Megan (JT Neal) Oswalt, Emily (Andy) Foster, Katie (Derek) Debiak, Gordon Oswalt, Alyson Ly, Jeff Smith, Marlena Smith; great-grandchildren Caleb and Chloe Nixon, Grady and Adelyn Mae Foster, and Rylee Eaton; a brother, John L. (Linda) Oswalt, of Vicksburg; and many very special nieces and nephews and dear friends. Visit his page at mccowensecord.com. Donations may go to the Vicksburg Community Schools Foundation c/o the Oswalt Family Technical Scholarship, Vicksburg United Methodist Church and the Kalamazoo Gospel Mission.

LuAnn Phelps, 63, a loving mother, grandmother and wife with a huge, generous heart that touched many, died August 19, from injuries sustained in an auto accident. She was born June 5, 1955, to Harvey and Gertrude (Towersey) Heppe in Sheridan, Mich.. She grew up on the family farm in Orleans, Mich., and graduated from Ionia High School in 1973. She married Thomas B. Phelps on August 18, 1979. LuAnn graduated from Michigan State University, where she earned her degree in accounting, then worked for the Department of Treasury Kalamazoo office for thirty-three years, retiring in 2011. An avid quilter, LuAnn helped make dozens of quilts for the New Hope Fellowship Quilting Ministry and for her family. LuAnn is survived by her husband, Tom; daughter, Elizabeth (Brandon) Morse and their four children, Jessica, Justin, Courtney and Sarah; her son, Andrew (Cassie) Phelps and their two children, Penny and Gemma; her mother, Gertrude Heppe; sister, Donna (Heppe) Ackley; brother, Donald (Karen) Heppe; sister, Linda (Heppe) Odette; brother-in-law, Pat (Martha) Phelps; sisters-in-law, Jenny Hartman and Valerie Eastman, and Sally (Gary) Spence; and many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her father, Harvey Heppe; brother-in-law, Rick Ackley; mother-in-law, Marjorie Hotovy; and brother-in-law, Mike Phelps. Donations may go to the Wounded Warrior Project or the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Visit her page at langelands.com.

Loretta J. Poulsen, 90, Schoolcraft, passed away August 12 with her family by her side. She was born on May 30, 1928. She graduated from Jonesville High School in Jonesville, Mich., and later graduated from Western Michigan University. Loretta worked as a registered children’s occupational therapist at the Kalamazoo State Hospital. Throughout her life, Loretta was a woman of many interests. She was very creative and crafty, enjoying ceramics and gardening as well as quilting. In fact, going to the fabric store was one of her most favorite things. Loretta was a fantastic cook, and one of her husband’s favorite dishes was her fried potatoes. For years, she enjoyed the companionship of her beloved dog, Bebe. Loretta is survived by her husband of 71 years, Raymond; son Jack (Patti Baggett) Poulsen, of Schoolcraft; grandchildren Chad Poulsen, of Vicksburg; Andy (Daniall) Poulsen, of Vicksburg; Michelle (Will Hodgman) Musselman, of Schoolcraft; Joe Poulsen, of Kalamazoo; grandchildren Kendalynn, Gracie, Easton, Jocelyn, Hailey, Davis, Sophia and Jace. She was preceded in death by sons Raymond and Bruce Poulsen. Visit her page at mccowensecord.com. Donations may go to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Alfred “Al or Tom” Thomas, 80, Vicksburg, passed away July 29. Al was born on May 18, 1938 in Vicksburg. He was the son of Alfred H. and Vera (Mathis) Thomas. Al married the love of his life, Margie Westra, and enjoyed spending his life with her. Burial of Al’s ashes was held at the Vicksburg Cemetery on Tuesday, August 7. Visit his page at mccowensecord.com. The family is being assisted by the McCowen & Secord Family Funeral Homes, Rupert-Durham Chapel.

Heather Lee Thompson, Vicksburg, passed away in her home August 15, surrounded by family members, after a courageous battle with cancer. She was born on April 22, 1971 in Ridgewood, NJ to her mother, Dawn Hickman. Heather grew up in Wilmot, IN, and was a 1989 graduate of West Noble High School. On June 3, 2006, Heather married the love of her life, Todd Thompson. One of Heather’s most cherished times was in the evening when she and Todd would sip wine and enjoy the beauty of Indian Lake together on the pontoon boat. Heather enjoyed entertaining and planning the annual Thompson Trash Volleyball Party, neighborhood golfing events, and the most recent spectacular fireworks display over Indian Lake, a legacy that will live on in her honor for many years. Heather is survived by her husband, Todd; children Corbin Thompson, Brianna Wines, Logan Thompson and Christian Wines, of Vicksburg. She was preceded in death by her mother, Dawn Hickman. A memorial service will be held August 31 at 11 a.m. at the Chapman Memorial Church of the Nazarene. The family will receive friends at the church beginning at 10 a.m. Please feel free to wear colorful, joyful clothing for this celebration of life. Donations may go to Chapman Memorial Church of the Nazarene or Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health in Indianapolis. The family is being assisted by the McCowen & Secord Family Funeral Home, Rupert-Durham Chapel.

Harris Walters, went to be with his Heavenly Father on August 3 at his home. Born Aug. 5, 1924 to his parents, Frank and Florence Walters, in Otsego, he joined a family that would grow to include eight children. On October 14, 1949, he was united in marriage to Effie Klein. He is survived by three sons, Frank (Patty), Dan (Rhonda) and Dennis (Meli); grandchildren Emily, Alison (Dan), Amanda, Nathan (Carolina), Matt, Mark (Kelly), Samuel, Andrew, and James. Also surviving are siblings Fran Walters, Vivian Reed, and Lou (Ned) Sutherland. Also surviving is a brother-in-law, George (Evelyn) Klein and sister-in-law Betty Klein Welch. He was preceded in death by his wife, Effie, parents Frank and Florence, and siblings Marian, Ethel, Beatrice, Carl, and Katherine. A special thank you to longtime friends and business partners Wendel and Geri Bole for their dedicated support and love for Harris, Shirley Kury for her friendship and kindness, and Larry Ketchum and Donna Crouch for their assistance in helping Harris at the VFW and American Legion. Extended step-family includes Scott (Lana), Brynn and Olivia Bowe, Amy (Josh), Tucker, and Ally Wright, and Laura (Zac), Oliver, Milo, Niven, and former daughter-in-law Sue Emrick, with whom he remained close. Donations may go to Lakeland Reformed Church or to the Vicksburg Community Schools Foundation. Visit his page at mccowensecord.com.

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