Obituaries

John Buelke, 74, Schoolcraft, died suddenly on July 6, 2021. He was born June 8, 1947, in Plymouth, Wis., the son of Eleanor and John Buelke. The family eventually moved to Kalamazoo and John stayed in the area his entire life. John graduated from Kalamazoo Central High School and WMU where he earned his teaching degree. He served in the military and was stationed at Fort Knox, Ky., where he was a chaplain’s assistant. There he met his future wife, Margie Baker. John and Margie returned to Kalamazoo where he began his teaching career, eventually retiring from Mattawan High School. John enjoyed racquetball and pickleball and was a farmer at heart, tending the community garden he started at the Schoolcraft United Methodist Church. He is survived by his beloved wife Margie, sons Robert and Brian, sisters Karen Parrish and Barb Dircks, and a host of nieces and nephews on both sides of the family. He was preceded in death by his parents and a sister, Jeanne. In accordance with the family’s wishes, cremation has taken place and services have been held. Visit his page at avinkcremation.com. Donations may go to South County Community Services – or plant a rose bush.

Merle L. Coville, Sr., 88, Scotts, passed away on July 24, 2021. Merle was born on October 7, 1932 in Climax, the son of William and Ella (Randall) Coville. Merle graduated from Climax High School in 1951 and served in the US Air Force. Merle worked for Consumers Power Company, retiring after 26 years. Merle loved to farm with his brothers and excavating, digging ponds and hauling marl. On August 27, 2002, Merle married Earline. They enjoyed traveling and going to casinos. Merle is survived by his wife of 19 years, Earline; children JoEllen (Jon) Elwell, of Climax, Julie Lighthill, of Oregon, Joy Childress of Arkansas, Merle (Patty) Coville, Jr, of Climax; stepchildren Roco (Patty) Elliott of Wisconsin and Tami (Bob) DeJonge of Richland; grandchildren Michelle, Jennie, Jeffrey, Samantha, Brian, Roxanne; and eight great grandchildren. He is also survived by his brother, Wilbur (Shirley) Coville, of Climax and sister Leila Godshalk, of Indiana. Merle was preceded in death by his grandson, Andrew Lighthill; brothers Bob and Ray Coville; sisters Hazel Kaiser and Bertha Buchko; and his first wife, JoAnne Coville. Visit his page at mccowensecord.com. Donations may go to Hospice Care of SW Michigan.

Shirley A. Crawford, 88, Vicksburg, passed away June 22, 2021. Shirley was born September 8, 1932 in Hobart, Ind. In 1952, she married Richard (Dick) Crawford and honeymooned at Lemon Park on Indian Lake. The couple remained in Vicksburg to raise their family. Shirley was a bus driver for Vicksburg Community Schools as well as a receiving clerk for the Upjohn Company for 17 years. Shirley won the Star Award from Kalamazoo County for volunteer work at Tobey School. Dick and Shirley attended every Vicksburg Car Festival since 1980 with their various cars, fire trucks, and tanks. She is survived by her children, Michelle “Missy” (Armando Blanco) Crawford of Vicksburg and Dean Crawford (Vivian Avila) of Vicksburg; grandson Eric (Cindy) Crawford of Vicksburg; and one great-grandchild, Hayden Crawford; many nieces and nephews, dear friends Dick and Janet VanLinder, Maurice and Judy Hovious, and Jordan Avila. She was preceded in death by her husband, two sisters and a brother. Visit her page at mccowensecord.com. Donations may go to Birch Meadows, Hospice Care of SW Michigan, and the Cancer Center of West Michigan in honor of Eric Crawford.

Betty Donovan, 67, Schoolcraft, passed away on July 20, 2021. She was born on December 31, 1953 in Battle Creek, the daughter of Allen and Dorothy (Amsler) Dove. Betty was a social butterfly and loved to spend time chatting with her family and friends. She did puzzles and crossword puzzles, and enjoyed and looked forward to trips to various casinos. Betty is survived by her children, Alan Caffrey (Bev Baldwin), Kristina (Larry) Quick, and Eugene Yohey; grandchildren Kyle and Ryan Quick; sibling Rex Fields; cousins Shirley Jessup, Brenda Elabalsy, Johnny Maurer, Bobby Maurer, Jerry Lawson, and William Krem; and companion Richard Yohey. Betty was preceded in death by her parents and her brother, David Fields. Visit her page at avinkcremation.com.

Harry Mark Gilbert, 73, Indian Lake in Vicksburg, passed away on March 8, 2021 at Bronson Methodist Hospital due to complications from pulmonary fibrosis and chronic heart failure. Visit his page at mccowensecord.com. A memorial tribute for Harry will be held on Saturday, August 14 at 6 p.m. at Dormouse Theatre, located at the corner of Portage Rd. and Lake St. in Kalamazoo. The tribute will be followed by a meal and a party, at Harry’s request. Bring a musical instrument, a voice to sing or a toe to tap. This will be a jam session in Harry’s honor. We want to make sure we have enough of all the food that Harry loved, so please RSVP by texting 269-599-8383. Just leave your name and the number of guests.

Patricia “Pat” Hageman, 91, Schoolcraft, passed away on July 25, 2021. She was born October 29, 1929, in Kalamazoo, the daughter of Joseph and Evelyn Bradley. Pat and her husband Ed had eight children and were welcoming to other children over the years. Once her children were grown, Pat worked as a reporter for the weekly Vicksburg Commercial Express, covering local news and authoring a column titled “Pat’s Pen.” She loved reading and volunteered at the Schoolcraft Library. She was instrumental in the fundraising and building of the library addition in 1990. She also was interested in genealogy. Patricia was preceded in death by her husband Edwin, parents Joseph and Evelyn Bradley, brother John Bradley, children John and Kathleen, son-in-law Christopher Renberg and dear friend Shirley (Kropp) Jones. She is survived by six children, Colleen (George) Schwartz, Susan (Roger) Smith, Jill (Matthew Dickinson) Anderson, Edwin (Kim Porter) Hageman, Cyril (Terri) Hageman, Nell Renberg and her informally adopted daughter, Susan Kay (James) Ryan. Survivors also include nine grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews. A memorial service will be held August 27 at 11 a.m. at St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church. Family will receive friends at 10 a.m. Donations may go to Hospice Care of SW Michigan or Residential Opportunities, Kalamazoo. Visit her page at avinkcremation.com.

Katharina Harrison, 88, Vicksburg, passed away January 17, 2021. Visit her page at mccowensecord.com. Katie’s family will have a visitation on August 28 from noon to 3 p.m. at McCowen & Secord Funeral Home. Come and share your stories about Katie. Donations may go to the Vicksburg Community Schools Athletic Department or Hospice Care of Greater Kalamazoo.

Helen Horn, 77, passed away June 14, 2021. Helen was born December 21, 1943, the daughter of Ralph David, Sr. and Elizabeth Anna (Multhaupt) Brown. Helen graduated from VHS in 1961. She attended Northwood Institute, WMU and KVCC. Helen started her career at WKMI AM radio and in 1967, started working at WMU, retiring in 2005. She was member of the Portage United Church of Christ and the Breakfast Optimist Club of Kalamazoo. Helen is survived by her husband and VHS classmate, David Horn; children Kathryn “Kathy” (Dave Kerley) Abts-Kerley and Thomas “Tom” (Kathy) Pressey; grandchildren Joshua (Stephanie) Abts, Nichele Abts, Riley Pressey, Sydney Pressey, Ian (Keely) Kerley, Gabriel Kerley, Connor Pressey, Ashlynn Kerley and Alexis “Lexi” Pressey; great-grandchildren Noah Abts, Kameron Abts and James Kerley; Sharon (Mike) VanDyken, like a daughter; life-long friend and classmate James R. Haas; “BFF” Joann Smith; siblings, Nancy (Otto) Decker, Ralph David, Jr. (Wendy) Brown, Patricia (Paul) Weber, Elizabeth (William) Bushouse and John (Laurie) Brown; and many nieces, nephews and cousins. Helen was preceded in death by her brother, Robert Brown; two nieces and a nephew; mother in-law, Audrey K. (Horn) Baugh; and special friends, Tami Porter, Marilyn Brown and Karen Schuring. Donations may go to Kairos Dwelling. Visit her page at joldersma-klein.com.

Reverend Gerald D. Laing, 91, Vicksburg, passed away on July 26, 2021. Gerald was born on October 18, 1929 in Lansing, the youngest of six children. Because his father was injured, Gerald dropped out of high school and went to work to help support the family. In the late 40’s, Gerald met Marcine Green, and proposed just days before he received his draft notice. He was sworn into service with the United States Army on July 21, 1951; the couple married on November 3, 1951. After discharge, he enrolled at Trevecca Nazarene College in Nashville, Tennessee, pursuing his call to ministry. From 1954 through 1960, Gerald ministered as an evangelist before pastoring at Grace Nazarene Church in Jackson. He then pastored Grand Ledge Church of the Nazarene before going back to work in 1976, traveling as an evangelist. Throughout retirement, he supported the Indian Lake Nazarene Camp and Chapman Memorial Church. Rev. Gerald Laing was preceded in death by his wife of 60 years, Marcine, and his siblings. He is survived by children Jim (Kemi) Laing and Jacquelyn (John) Skurkey; grandchildren James (Alison) Laing, Jared (Tobi) Laing, Jodi (Adam) Leonard, Chelsie (Jared) Capello, and Cole (Kara) Hostetler; 14 great grandchildren and one baby on the way. He is also survived by a niece, Elizabeth Bashore. Visit his page at mccowensecord.com.

Sharlene Lockner, 83, Vicksburg, passed away at her home on July 26, 2021 with her family at her side. Sharlene was born on November 5, 1937 to Charles and Hazel (Dunning) Litten in Kalamazoo, the youngest of seven daughters. Sharlene married the love of her life, Jack Lockner, on January 29, 1954. Sharlene enjoyed spending hours in her art room sharing her love of painting by teaching and painting everything from ceramics, oil paintings, doll houses and furniture, and even painted rocks that could be found on many local walking trails. Sharlene was preceded in death by husband, Jack, daughter Marcia, father Charles, and mother Hazel. She is survived by daughters Linda (Greg) Zummach and Lori Lockner; grandchildren Sandra West, Leslie (Brandon) Thornton, Justin (Tammy) Shaffer, and David (Heather) Maurer; along with many great grandchildren who were the sparkle in her life. She loved her family and adored her cats. An outdoor graveside memorial service will be held September 11, 2021 at Mountain Home Cemetery in Otsego, and a celebration of life luncheon will follow. Visit her page at mccowensecord.com. Donations may go to Rose Arbor through Hospice Care of SW Michigan.

Norman Charles Mills II, 72, Scotts, died Sunday, July 18, 2021, as the result of a motorcycle accident. Norman was born on September 7, 1948, the son of Norman Charles and Ruth Ella (Orr) Mills. Norm attended the Immaculate Conception Catholic School through eighth grade. He graduated from Three Rivers High school in 1966. From 1968 to 1974 Norm proudly served his country in the United States Army Reserves. From 1967 to 1999, Norm worked for the Pepsi-Cola company and never missed a day of work, receiving many awards and recognitions. Norm met Debra Miller in 1978, and they were married March 8, 1980 at St. Martin of Tours Church in Vicksburg. After retirement, Norm began driving a school bus for the Vicksburg Community Schools, a job he enjoyed. He was an avid golfer, Harley Davidson enthusiast, and a people person. He is survived by his loving wife of 41 years, Deborah Mills; daughters Jennifer Mills and Rachel Mitchell; grandchildren Shailynn Jackson and KeAndre Berry; sisters Ruth (Douglas) Burson and Deborah (Bruce) Harley. He was preceded in death by his son, Kurtis Russell; brother Michael Mills; sister Margorie Beard; and his parents. Donations can be made to Deb Mills for assistance with funeral services. Visit his page at mccowensecord.com.

Sharon Morlan, 73, Schoolcraft, passed away on June 22, 2021, from a three-year battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Sharon was born in Rochester, Minn. on March 8, 1948. She graduated from Lourdes High School in Rochester and received a nursing degree from St. Mary’s Nursing School. Sharon was married to Roger A. Morlan on April 24, 1970. Sharon began her career working as a practical nurse, and after moving to Michigan in 1986, worked at Tendercare of Portage for more than 25 years. She enjoyed reading, soap operas, camping, and family. Sharon is survived by husband Roger; stepchildren Michael (Kim) Morlan and Michele Myers; daughters Heidi Morlan and Wendy Morlan; grandsons Joshua Myers, Mitchel and Bryce Morlan, Ethan and Andrew Shenberger; granddaughters Emily and Hannah Anderson, Jordan Myers, and Taylor Anderson; niece Jaime Dexter; and other family located in central Michigan and Rochester. Sharon was preceded in death by her parents, Gerald R. and Gail M. (Anderson) Dexter; Uncle John and Aunt Dorothy (Anderson) Nordine; and brother Gary Dexter; as well as grandparents and several uncles, aunts and cousins. Donations may go to cancer research or Grace Hospice of Kalamazoo. The family thanks Sharon’s many healthcare workers. Visit her page at joldersma-klein.com.

Lester Dale Noel, 81, Mendon, died May 6, 2021 at his home. He was born in Vicksburg on January 31, 1940, the son of Virgil and Dorothy Noel. Lester graduated from Vicksburg High School. After high school, he worked for 39 years as a mold setter at the Haas Corporation, later known as the Lear Corporation. On October 27, 1959, Lester married Marie Kathryn Overholt in Vicksburg. Lester was an avid bass fisherman. He organized and competed in many bass fishing tournaments and was a member of the National Bass Anglers Association. Lester enjoyed hunting, attending Mendon sporting events, and doing yard work. Lester’s favorite hobby was playing and teasing his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Lester is survived by his wife, Marie Noel of Mendon; son Randy (Tammy) Noel of Florida; grandchildren Kayla Hollomon (Cody Greer), Christina (John) Bingaman, Kourtney (Brandon) Burbank, Nathan Dupree, Jessica Noel (Kyle Sass), Jonathan Noel, and Justin (Samantha) Noel; 15 great grandchildren; siblings Vernon (Janet) Noel, David (Carolyn) Noel, Joan (Jim) Parker-Sackrider, and Vera (Glen) Thomas. He was preceded in death by his parents, son Rick Noel, and brother Virgil Noel. Donations may go to the Parkinson’s Foundation. Visit his page at eickhofffuneralhome.com.

Ellen Mae Zemek, 83, Vicksburg, passed away on May 28, 2021 in Kalamazoo. She was born July 7, 1937, the daughter of the late Stanley and Helen (Plucinski) Kempa. She graduated from Iron River High School. After high school Ellen moved to Chicago to begin her career as an administrative assistant. She married John Theodore Zemek on November 9, 1957. They celebrated 59 years together before his death on January 21, 2017. Ellen retired from Youth Services Opportunities. Ellen was an avid bowler, golfer and tennis player, and she loved to cook. After living on Eagle Lake for 25 years, Ted and Ellen moved to South Haven and eventually settled in the Scotts-Vicksburg area to be closer to their grandkids. Her pride and love for her grandchildren was apparent with the endless hours spent at ball fields and hockey rinks. She was a parishioner at St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church. She is survived by children David (Marilyn) Zemek of Palm Desert, Calif., Nancy (Scott) Muffley of Portage, and Michael (Laura) Zemek of Lowell, Mich.; grandchildren Jordyn and Josie Muffley and Blake and Josh Zemek. She was preceded in death by older brothers Frank, Walter, Joseph, Ben and Robert Kempa and older sisters Rose and Sophie. Cremation has taken place and services have been held. Memorials may be directed to St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church. Please visit her page at mccowensecord.com.

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