Ricardo Escamilla, Idlewild, Michigan, formerly of Vicksburg, passed away on April 26, 2023. Ricardo was born on April 11, 1960, the son of Jose and Jesusa Escamilla. He attended Vicksburg Community Schools and graduated with the class of 1978. He moved south to work in the oil industry, and when he returned to Kalamazoo, he started in residential roofing, working himself to lead roofing contractor until his retirement. Ricardo was married to Deb Bauer for over 25 years. They had three children: Jose, Louren, and Carlos. He was very family oriented and cherished his time with his children. In retirement, he settled in Idlewild. He was preceded in death by his parents; baby sister Elena; and brothers-in-law Thomas Kelley and Ramah Shearer. Ricardo is survived by his children, Jose of Kalamazoo, Louren of San Diego, Calif., and Carlos of Kalamazoo; siblings Victoria Kelley of Three Rivers, Maria Lydia (Muhammed) Ali of Portage, Esequiel Escamilla of Kalamazoo, Jose Escamilla Jr. of Benton Harbor, Estella Shearer of Vicksburg, Adalia (Dan) Martin of Schoolcraft, Teresa (Rudy) Ruelas of Traverse City, Jesus Escamilla of Oklahoma, Alejandro Escamilla of Chicago and Adolfo (Marie) Escamilla of Portage. He is also survived by his former wife, Deb and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins. A Mass of Christian burial will be held on Saturday, July 8, 2023 at 11 a.m. at St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church, 5855 East W Ave, Vicksburg. The family will receive friends at the church one hour prior to the service beginning at 10 a.m. Visit Ricardo’s page at amsfuneralhomes.com. Donations may go to St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church. Assistance provided by the Avink, McCowen & Secord Funeral Home and Cremation Society.
Howard A. Gragg, 86, Mendon, died June 13, 2023 at his home. He was born in Kalamazoo on October 26, 1936, the son of the late Archie and Doris (Olmstead) Gragg. He attended Richland Public Schools. The family moved to Ohio his senior year, and he graduated from Bexley High School. He served in the U.S. Air Force from 1954 to 1958. He married Mary Lou Hobbs on May 11, 1957 in Marked Tree, Arkansas. They settled in Vicksburg, where he owned and operated Howard’s Auto Repair for many years. After retirement, he worked briefly at Bob’s Auto Repair in Mendon. Howard was a former member of the White Pigeon Church of Christ, where he served as deacon and treasurer. He enjoyed camping and fishing “up north” and mushrooming. He became the primary caregiver to his wife, Mary Lou, in their later years, sitting on the porch and playing his Gibson guitar for her. Howard is survived by daughters Katrina Danielczuk of Mattawan and Linda (Robert) VanderStraaten of Mendon; grandchildren Michael (Angie) VanderStraaten, Sarah (Jake) Pease, Tina Munson-Merrell, Georgia Miles, Stephanie Smeros, Misty Carpenter, and Mary Russell; great-grandchildren including Calvin and Lucy Pease, Ethan, Blake, and Dylan VanderStraaten; sisters Lila Munson, Helen Luegge, and Sharon Drake; and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Mary Lou; great-grandson Devon VanderStraaten; brothers Archie and Patrick Gragg; and sisters Yolanda Puterio, Patricia Fisher, and Alice Terry. Donations may go to St. Jude’s Childrens Research Hospital or Shriner’s Hospitals for Children. Assistance provided by the Eickhoff Funeral Home of Mendon. Visit his page at eickhofffuneralhome.com.
Jennifer Carol Laker, 52, Kalamazoo, formerly of Vicksburg, passed away peacefully on June 7, 2023, at Rose Arbor Hospice after a short but brave battle with cancer. She was born on Christmas Day, 1970, to Kenneth and Nancy Webster. After graduating from Otsego High School, she completed training to become a medical assistant. She was a dedicated employee at Advanced Cardiac Health Care where she worked as a cardiac device technician for 20 years. She was a favorite among colleagues and patients alike. Jennifer married her soulmate, Brian Laker, on September 19, 1997, in Las Vegas. They recently celebrated their 25th anniversary in Aruba. She loved life and embraced all types of adventures, physical activity, and the out-of-doors. She especially enjoyed time with her family and her girlfriends. Her comfort time was curled up with a good book and her dogs, “fur babies” Stella and Bahloo. To all that knew her, she blessed them with her kind and loving heart. Jennifer is survived by her husband of 25 years, Brian Laker; children Alek (Renee) and Derek; father, Kenneth L. Webster; brother and sister-in-law Michael and Carrie Rhodes; and many nieces, nephews and countless friends. Jennifer was preceded in death by her mother, Nancy Webster and a brother, Mark Rhodes. There will be a celebration of life on Sunday, July 23, at Heritage Glen Golf Course, 29795 Heritage Lane, Paw Paw, Michigan, from 1 to 5 p.m. Visit her page at amsfuneralhomes.com. Memorials may be made to Centrica Care Navigators/Rose Arbor Hospice. The Laker family is being cared for by the Avink, McCowen & Secord Funeral Homes and Cremation Society, Portage.
Vivian “Viv” J. McCowen, 100, Kalamazoo, passed away on May 27, 2023. She was born December 18, 1922, in Bainbridge Township in Berrien County, the daughter of Walter E. and Reta M. (Griffin) Smith. Vivian graduated from Benton Harbor High School in 1941 and married Robert “Bob” H. McCowen on June 12, 1943. After their wedding they lived in Akron where Bob was stationed in the Army. Vivian helped during World War II and worked at Goodyear Tire Company. After the war, Bob took a job with the Upjohn Company, and they made Kalamazoo their home and raised their family. They enjoyed spending time at their cottage at Sister Lakes. Viv was active in the Order of the Eastern Star as a member of the Corinthian Chapter No. 123. For over 20 years Vivian worked as an administrative assistant for Portage Public Schools at Waylee Elementary until she retired in 1979. After retirement she and Bob moved to Sun City, Arizona. Bob and Vivian traveled extensively. After Robert passed away in 2010, Vivian moved back to Michigan and settled in Portage. Vivian was preceded in death by her husband; sons Robert and Thomas; and a brother, John Smith. Vivian is survived by her grandsons, Steve (Jenny) McCowen of Scotts, Jeff (Melanie) McCowen of Virginia, Carl (Claire) McCowen of Massachusetts, and Robert (Andra) McCowen of Kansas; great-grandchildren Mackenzie, Joey, Stephen, Nick, Kate, Elliot, Emma, and Evan; and daughters in law Rose McCowen of Kansas and Sue McCowen of Jackson. Services have been held. Visit her page at amsfuneralhomes.com. Those who wish may make contributions to Vicksburg Community Schools Foundation, Portage Senior Center or Centrica Care Navigators.
Karon L. Morley, 68, Leonidas, died June 4, 2023 at Corewell Blodgett Hospital in East Grand Rapids. She was born in Vicksburg on May 19, 1955, the daughter of the late Erving H. and June L. (Miller) Morley and was a lifetime resident of the Vicksburg area. She was a graduate of Vicksburg High School and earned her bachelor’s degree from Western Michigan University. She was a substitute teacher at many of the area schools, and most recently worked at an adult foster care home. Karon was a musician who played piano at both the Mendon United Methodist Church and the West Mendon Community Church for many years. She played the fiddle for the Mendon Kiwanis Showboat for 40 years, for Main Street Review in Vicksburg, and with the Fryling Family Gospel Singers. Karon enjoyed playing the Daily Lottery and bingo. She was fond of animals, and pets were always important to her, especially cats. Her generous heart, ability to remember dates and quirky sense of humor will be greatly missed. Karon was married to Leon “Stub” Truckey on September 2, 1986 in Manton, Michigan. He survives along with children Ross (Alisha) Truckey of Leonidas, Walker (Alex) Truckey and Sky (Adam) Truckey, both of Kalamazoo; step-children Patrick Truckey and Bobbie Jo (Nick) Smith, both of Kalamazoo; grandchildren Summer Truckey, Blake Truckey, Chloe Visscher, Ainsley Smith, and Nelson Smith; sisters Kathleen Slater of Florida and Sharon Morley of Pilot, Virginia; twin brother Kevin Morley of Leonidas; and several nieces and nephews. Donations may go to the Mendon United Methodist Church or to the West Mendon Community Church. Memories and condolences may be shared at eickhofffuneralhome.com.
Nancy Ray Nelson-Vander Weide passed away May 28, 2023 after a short illness. Nancy was born June 21, 1938 in Platteville, Wisconsin, the daughter of Ray Lee Henning and Elizabeth Mary Henning. The family moved around after her birth and Nancy eventually graduated from high school in Port Huron. She married Norman Bruce Nelson on June 15, 1957. Because of Norman’s job, the family moved often but finally settled in Vicksburg, where all the boys graduated from high school. Nancy and Norm attended Kalamazoo First Assembly of God. Nancy was an avid singer and joined the choir where she enjoyed praising and glorifying the Lord. Norm was killed in a plane crash in 1991. Nancy studied and became a registered nurse and worked for many years in the medical field. She married Roger E. Vander Weide on August 17, 1996. Nancy spent happy years watching her blended family grow and flourish. Nancy is survived by her four sons and their wives, Jeffrey and Lynda Nelson, Jay and Donna Nelson, Joel and Brenda Nelson, and David and Dawn Nelson; brother William L. Henning and sister-in-law Agnes A. Henning; stepchildren Catherine Dusseljee, Christopher Vander Weide, Elizabeth Fenstermaker, and Shelley Kengis; and many grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces and nephews. Visit her page at amsfuneralhomes.com. The Vander Weide family is being cared for by the Avink, McCowen & Secord Funeral Homes, Vicksburg.