Obituaries

Cari Virginia Benko, 34, Vicksburg, formerly of Mt. Olive, Ill., passed away May 13, after a year-long battle with cancer. She was born June 5, 1984 in Staunton, Ill., to Mary Ann Taylor Hagerman and the late Oscar Virgil Hagerman of Mt. Olive. She married Andrew James Benko on September 29, 2007 after graduating from from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale with a bachelor of science degree in business and administration. She also earned her private and commercial pilot licenses as well as an instrument rating. She was a homemaker, homeschool teacher and chestnut farm operator. She enjoyed cooking, gardening, entomology and being outdoors. Memorials may go to her children through Becker and Son Funeral Home. Survivors include her husband, Andrew, and children Evan, Terra and Althea Benko of Vicksburg, sisters Jennifer Monke (husband Nate and son Oliver) of Mt. Olive, Ill. and Erica Minton (husband Randy) of Spokane Valley, Wash. She was preceded in death by her father, Oscar Virgil Hagerman and niece, Anna Dolores Monke. Condolences may be left at beckerandson.com.

Betty Jane (Zausch) Braymer, 94, passed away May 19 of cumulative heart congestion with little pain and family at her side. Betty was born in St. Louis, MO on Jan 8th, 1925 to Alphonsus and Evelyn Zausch. Betty had an older brother, Al and twin younger siblings Larry and Florence. Betty’s siblings all preceded her in death. Betty was the wife of Donald George Braymer. Don and Betty have lived the past 32 years on Sunset Lake and resided the previous 28 years on Gourdneck Lake in Portage. They were married on August 8, 1945 and were inseparable for nearly 74 years. Betty had 4 children and is survived by her spouse Don Sr. and 3 children, Don Jr. (Carol) Braymer, Kathy (Charlie) MacDonald and Bill (Susan) Braymer. David (Kate) Braymer passed away 13 years ago. Betty is survived by 13 grandchildren, and 11 great grandchildren. Visit her page at langelands.com.

John W. Brown, Sr., passed away after a brief battle with cancer on May 10, surrounded by his family. John was born in Kalamazoo, on September 4, 1935 to Jay Brown Sr. and Lola (Rowley) Brown/Bauer. He grew up in the Oakwood area and graduated from Kalamazoo Central High School in 1953. In 1960, John opened Park Lane Florist in Vicksburg, where he developed a longtime following of customers and friends. His artistry with flowers and care for others was evident in each arrangement. He was an active member of the Vicksburg Rotary Club and was a member of the Vicksburg Village Council in the 1980s. He maintained Park Lane in various locations throughout southwest Michigan for over 40 years with a dedicated following of many who cherished his work. When John wasn’t working, he loved to be out golfing with his friends. A Portage resident and longtime business owner, John was preceded in death by his wife, Jill, in 2015, his parents, a brother, Charles Riddle, a sister, Betty Buddemeyer, and a brother, Jay Brown Jr. He leaves behind four children, Constance Brown Hammond, John Brown, Jr., Tina Brown (Hassan Al Jubran), and Robert Brown (Maureen Brown), grandchildren Ashley Brown, Jasmine Moskalik, Jessie Sadiku, Maizie and Hailey Brown, and a great-grandson, Joseph Franzone. John requested his ashes be scattered at his favorite lake. Donations in John’s memory can be made to Rose Arbor Hospice.

Alberta Chesser
, 88, Vicksburg, passed away May 12. She was born to Albert and Gladys (Ryan) Hudson on February 9, 1931. She married Ray Chesser on March 21, 1948 and settled in Vicksburg. Once their sons were grown, she returned to work at Stewart Sutherland where she was happily employed for more than 20 years. Well-liked by her clients and co-workers, she made a life-long friendship with Jan Applebey who worked there and was also her next-door neighbor. Outgoing and friendly, Alberta never lacked for people to accompany her on local shopping trips or activities. She is survived by her sons, Kenneth (Vicky) Chesser, of Vicksburg; Kevin (Sherry) Chesser, of Vicksburg; eight grandchildren, 17 great-grandchildren, and several special nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her loving husband, Raymond, in 2014 and her siblings, Mary Boucher, Doris Boucher, Dan VonSchriltz, and Betty Lou VonSchriltz. Visit Alberta’s page at mccowensecord.com. Donations may go to Kairos Dwelling.
Jackie Coburn, 89, of Concord, Calif., passed away April 23. She was born June 18, 1929 in Saco, Maine, the daughter of Hazel and Ralph Lamb. On August 31, 1946, she married Donald Coburn, who preceded her in death. She worked in Saco, Maine at Sweetser Children’s Home, a residential home for emotionally disturbed children, for 18 years. After that she was a bank teller and then a manager in Portland, Maine. She was a member of the Eastern Star and Red Hat Organizations. She became a basketball referee when her two daughters were in high school. She is survived by daughters Donna Parker (Don) and Patti Bowen (Mike) of Vicksburg, grandchildren Tatum Odell (Brian), Sommer Priester (Jammie) and Shane Bowen (Selena), great-grandchildren Brayden Odell, Courtney and Audrey Zielinski, Jaxon and Megan Priester, Evan and Olivia Bowen; and a great-great- grandson, Mason Faulk. She was cremated and will be buried in a double urn with her husband, the love of her life, in a military cemetery.

Cynthia Ann Corey, 74, Portage, passed away April 26. She was born to Raymond and Helen Glowaczewski on October 8, 1944. She met a young serviceman named Allen Eugene “Gene” Corey. They were married on November 5, 1966 and made their home in Gene’s hometown of Vicksburg. Due to Gene’s work, their family moved quite frequently. Over the years they lived all around the country, which gave their three daughters amazing and varied experiences. Cynthia is survived by daughters Karen (Jeff) Schaffer of Illinois, Kristine (Jeff) Keiser of Portage and Diane (Steve) Wester of Portage; nine grandchildren and one great-grandson. She is also survived by her brother and sisters-in-law, Glen “Herb” (Alice) Corey of Union City; Jerry (Susan) Corey of Dowagiac; Larry Corey of Cassopolis; Joyce Corey, of Colorado; Dennis Corey and Randy (Jodi) Corey, both of Dowagiac. She was preceded in death by her husband, Allen Eugene “Gene” Corey. Visit her page at mccowensecord.com. Donations may go to Rose Arbor.

Lani Duane Diamon, 72, Schoolcraft, passed away May 8, due to heart disease. Born in Kalamazoo, he was the son of the late Clare and Virginia Diamon. In 1980, he married Margie (Adams) Nooney, and together they loved three sons, Phillip, Sean (Kristin) and Joseph (Jessica). Lani worked primarily as a resident care aide at the Kalamazoo State Hospital, and drove a school bus for Schoolcraft Community Schools. He enjoyed baseball, softball, pool, and most of all, spending time with his family. A real character, Lani had a large collection of dad jokes and enjoyed telling stories. Lani is survived by his wife and children, his three grandchildren, sisters Vicki and Teresa (Herbert), and Aunt Virginia (Marv); numerous nephews, nieces, cousins and dear friends. A celebration of life will be held at 5 p.m. on Sunday, June 23 at Nob Hill Bar & Grill in Kalamazoo.

Robert Frank Drahos, 85, passed away peacefully May 4, at Brookdale Assisted Living in Portage. He was born on July 31, 1933 at Borgess Hospital in Kalamazoo. Bob grew up on the east side of Kalamazoo and graduated from Kalamazoo Central in 1952. While in school, he excelled as an athlete, pitching a no-hitter. After graduation, he went to work at Allen Electric, Buck Tool Company and Maro Incorporated. He was married to Nancy Kaiser in 1955. He became a co-owner of Valley Press Printing in Portage. In 1983, Bob agreed to relocate to North Carolina as part of a Maro Precision expansion. Bob finished his work career and retired from Walter Kidde Aerospace in 1997. Upon retirement Bob and Nancy moved back to Vicksburg. In July 2016, Bob and Nancy moved into Brookdale Assisted Living where he was better able to meet her needs. Throughout his life Bob enjoyed fishing, traveling with his family, gardening, and tending to his meticulous lawn. Bob was preceded in death by his parents, Joseph and Sarah, and his beloved sister, Jeannette. He is survived by his wife, Nancy, of Portage; sons Michael (Patricia) Drahos of Sherburne, N.Y. and Joel (Karen) Drahos of Webster, Wis.; daughters Chris (Craig) Arms of South Haven, Karen (Rickey) Ray of Vicksburg; grandchildren Joshua (Raquel) Willison, Dottie (Rob) Bittner, Joshua Drahos, Emily Drahos, Corey (Ashley) Ray, and Andria (Dale Warner) Ray; great-grandchildren Teagan, Brooklyn, Tyler, and Alex. Donations may go to Lakeland Reformed Church. Condolences may be expressed to the family at eickhofffuneralhome.com.

Josephine “Jo” Gray, passed away April 28 after a short illness. She was born on June 30, 1934. She had resided in Scotts for over 60 years. She was preceded in death by her husband, Paul “Barney” Gray in May 2011. She is survived by her daughters, Christine Osborne of Jonesborough, Tenn. and Susan Gray of Hastings, Mich., sisters Joann Binegar and Jackie Talbert; grandsons Brian and Kevin Osborne; six great-grandchildren and other loving extended family. She requested cremation. A private service will be held at a later date with burial in Gilson Cemetery. Donations may go to the Cancer Center of Southwest Michigan or the Ronald McDonald House. Visit her page at langelands.com.

Thomas Michael “Tom” Millard, 77, Mendon, died peacefully at his riverside home May 22. He was born in Three Rivers on Dec. 29, 1941, the son of the late Kenneth A. and Mercedes A. (Truckey) Millard. Tom graduated from Mendon High School in 1960. He was married to Karen Osgood on Dec. 12, 1970 in Mendon. Tom was a professional truck driver. More recently he was the proprietor of Crossroads Auto Sales of Centreville and a representative for Country Clipper Mowing Equipment. Tom was recognized for being in the top 10 percent for 12 of the last 13 years for all Country Clipper dealerships. Tom was married to Louise Weinberg on March 2, 1990 in Louisville, Ky. She survives along with daughters, Nikki (Colby) Furey and Traci Millard, both of Mendon; granddaughters Ashley and Ella Millard; grandson Devyn Furey; stepchildren Shane (Vanessa) Leech and Melissa Leech; step-grandchildren Kaden and Kaleah Leech; a sister, Kathy Stump of Leonidas; brothers, John (Mary Jane) Millard of Caledonia and Kenneth (Kathleen) Millard of Indian River; several nieces and nephews. Donations may go to Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan. Visit his page at eickhofffuneralhome.com.

Dennis Osterhouse, 75, Vicksburg, passed away May 18. Dennis was born on June 25, 1943, in Battle Creek, to George & Leora (Root) Osterhouse. A private memorial service has taken place. Dennis’ family includes his wife of 18 years, Julie; stepchildren Jody (Mike) Tuinier, Deborah Gay; Chris Ringler; several grand and great grandchildren as well as several cousins. He was preceded in death by his parents. Dennis grew up in Galesburg and attended local schools. He worked as a custodian at the Galesburg-Augusta School system until he retired in 1989. He loved animals, especially his dogs CB and CJ. Dennis was a great mechanic and loved Nascar and all things racing. He was an avid bird watcher and reader but lived for his grandchildren and great grandchildren. Visit his page at mccowensecord.com. Donations may go to the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

John R. Ranes, 65, Vicksburg, passed away May 10. He was born to Johnny and Shirley (Miller) Ranes on February 19, 1954. He grew up in Galesburg, graduating in 1972. He went to work for Checker Motors for 20 years. He left for K&D Environmental and later bought Country Food & Beverage in Vicksburg. He called Indian Lake his home for many years. He will be remembered for his kind heart, warm spirit, and ability to model a lifetime of hard work providing for the family he loved. John is survived by his wife, Linda; children Jimmy (Sondra) Strong, of Sturgis; Angie (Justin) Smith, of Scotts; Mendy (Dave) Witt, of Vicksburg and Pam (Shawn) Sackett, of Scotts; and 14 grandchildren. He is also survived by his father, Johnny Ranes; siblings Shirlene Ranes, of Kalamazoo; Jerry (Sheri) Ranes, of Galesburg; Mike (Becki) Ranes, of Battle Creek; and Doug Ranes, of Kalamazoo. Visit his page at mccowensecord.com. Donations may go to the Chapman Memorial Church of the Nazarene, Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan or West Michigan Cancer Center.

Keith Ritter, 67, Schoolcraft, passed away at Borgess Pipp Hospital May 20. He was born in Vicksburg on August 8, 1951 to Edwin and Alois (Anderson) Ritter. Keith married Linda (Kasperek) Ritter on May 17, 1975. They recently celebrated their 44th anniversary. He retired at age 58 after a 34-year career at Upjohn/Pfizer. He enjoyed tending his garden, tracking current events and rooting for all things University of Michigan. Keith’s family includes his sons, Jeffery (Fernanda) Ritter and Bradley (Kimberly) Ritter; his three cherished grandchildren, Graham, Eliza and Leonardo; nieces and nephews Michael and Nicholas Shirk, Mia and Nicholas Kasperek; and his sister, Elaine Shirk. He was preceded in death by his parents, Edwin and Alois Ritter. A private interment will take place at a later date. Donations may go to the American Heart Association or the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Visit his page at langelands.com.

Timothy Francis Shook, 63, formerly of Fulton, died March 21 in Miami, Fla., where he had resided the past 35 years. He was born in Battle Creek on Oct. 4, 1955, the son of Robert and Adele Shook. Tim graduated from Vicksburg High School in 1973, and later earned his bachelor’s degree from WMU. He was a project manager for real estate development and commercial construction. He was a former member of the Florida Philharmonic Chorus. Tim is survived by siblings Lynette (Mike) Wilson of Leonidas, Christopher (Katherine) Shook of Kalamazoo, Stephen (JoEllen) Shook of Springfield, Va., Marianne (Joe) Kuiper of Mattawan, Maureen (David) Simms of Milford, Robert G. Shook of Allegan, Lawrence (Darla Cook) Shook of Battle Creek, Pauline (Mark) Giacobone of Schoolcraft, and Kathleen (Steve) Waldron of Schoolcraft; many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents and an infant brother. Visit his page at eickhofffuneralhome.com.

Bertha Denney Smith, 95, Fulton, died May 29. Bertha was born on March 14, 1924 in Marion, Ind. to Frederick and Goldie (DeHoff) Denney. The family moved to Michigan when she was five. She attended school in Mendon, Moore Park and Schoolcraft. On September 13, 1947, Bertha married Clyde Blackburn Smith, Jr. in Ohio. The couple made their home in Fulton. She was employed by Haas/Leer Corporation in Mendon, the Kellogg Co. and Eaton Corporation in Battle Creek, the greenhouse in Vicksburg and Lamb Knit in Colon. Survivors include her children, Elizabeth VanSickle of Bellevue, Joseph (Arleen) Smith of East Leroy, John Smith of Colon, Margaret Rance of Fulton and Charles (Debbie) Smith of Dowling; siblings, Mable (Elwin) Holtz of Fulton, Patricia Carter of Marshall and Dolores “Dolly” (Bruce) Loker of Vicksburg; sisters-in-law Darlene Denney of Athens and Doris Denney of Wetmore, Mich.; brothers-in-law Richard (Suzie) Smith of San Diego, Calif. and Ronald (Barbara) Smith of Pine, Colo,; 21 grandchildren, 28 great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren, with two more on the way; and many nieces and nephews. Bertha was preceded in death by her husband of 60 years, Clyde, in 2008; a son, James Smith; grandson, Andrew Smith; siblings Alma Guthrie, Arthur Denney, F. Dale Denney, William Denney, Doris Denney, Peter Denney and Mary Denney; daughters-in-law Jan Smith and Belinda Smith; and son-in-law Marvin VanSickle. Donations may go to the Fulton Christian Church Women’s Fellowship. Visit her page at lighthousefuneral.com.

David Allen Thomas, 60, Scotts, passed away April 23. David was born on May 1, 1958 in Lincoln, England. He is the son of Gordon and Marian (Rawson) Thomas. He attended Vicksburg schools. He worked for over 30 years for Woolf Excavating and operated heavy equipment. He is described as unique, kind of a hippie, caring person who would do anything for anyone. He enjoyed fishing and hunting, as well as spending time with his good friend, Gary Peterson, processing meat. Although he had a few motorcycles and was considered a big bad biker, he didn’t ride very much. He had a soft spot for his rescue dog, Schaffer, a yellow Labrador retriever he cared for deeply that had been dropped off in the country by his home. David is survived by his mother, Marian Thomas; children Rachel Thomas and Luke (Katie) Thomas, both of Scotts; a grandson, Tustin Scott; a sister, Melanie (Kevin) Tyler, of Vicksburg; and his dog, Schaffer. He was preceded in death by his father, Gordon Thomas. Visit his page at mccowensecord.com. Donations may go to a charity of choice.

Eugene (Gene) Gilman Toornman, 87, Long Lake, passed away May 10, surrounded by his loving family. Gene was born on October 22, 1931 in Kalamazoo, to John Henry Sr. and Cornelia (Gilman) Toornman. Gene was a 1949 graduate of Kalamazoo State High School. He served in the U.S. Navy Air Corps from 1951-1955. During this time, he was an accomplished boxer, representing both the U.S. Navy and the city of Kalamazoo. In 1955, Gene started working at the Upjohn Company in Portage and then decided to pursue a college education to advance to a higher position within the company. Gene graduated from Western Michigan University with a degree in industrial engineering. He continued his career as an engineer at Upjohn until his retirement in 1988. He enjoyed his 30-year career, never taking a sick day. In 1961, Gene married Marie (Boekeloo) Toornman. They celebrated 56 years of marriage. Gene enjoyed telling his six children and many grandchildren stories from his youth. These stories included valuable advice and life lessons. Gene was interested in classic automobiles and restored several during his retirement. His biggest project and accomplishment was restoring a 1937 Lincoln Zephyr, which he generously donated to the Gilmore Car Museum. Gene was preceded in death by his wife Marie, daughter Carrie Toornman Kimble, his brothers John Toornman Jr. and James Toornman. He is survived by his son Tom (Cathy) Toornman, daughters Tammy Guzzo, Deborah Toornman, Laurie (John) Hare, and Penny Major. Gene is also survived by several nieces, nephews, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Donations may go to local hospice services, Salvation Army, Loaves and Fishes, or a local charity of one’s choosing.

Helen Mildred Waterhouse, 91, Portage, passed away April 24 at Bickford of Battle Creek. Helen was born on February 14, 1928 in Oshtemo Township, the daughter of Thomas and Maude (Harvey) Branch. Helen was a graduate of Mattawan High School. On May 6, 1950, she married Edward Waterhouse. They enjoyed over 60 years of marriage. Helen was a Godly woman who served the Lord faithfully her entire life. She was a member of Lord of Life Lutheran Church of Portage. She especially loved her quilting club, where they made hundreds of quilts that have been sent throughout the world. She worked in the insurance field for over 46 years. She retired from the Garrett Agency after being there for 35 years. Helen is survived by her children, Thomas Waterhouse and Sue (Richard) Pitts, both of Indiana; Mark (Rita) Waterhouse of Battle Creek; and Bryan (Karen) Waterhouse of Vicksburg; 12 grandchildren, six great grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her husband, Edward. A memorial service was held at Lord of Life Lutheran Church on April 24. Burial of her ashes will take place at Fort Custer National Cemetery at a later date. Please visit Helen’s webpage at avinkcremation.com. Those who wish may make contributions to the Lord of Life Lutheran Church, Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan, or Bickford Cottage of Battle Creek.

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