Category Archives: Obituaries

Obituaries

Marilyn J. Butler, 86, Portage, passed away peacefully with family surrounding her on Tuesday, July 16. Marilyn was born February 24, 1933 in Kalamazoo, the daughter of Norman and Margaret (Sullivan) Thiel. She graduated from Kalamazoo Central in 1951. When her children were young, she was the church secretary at Westminster Presbyterian Church and then worked at Consumers Energy as a customer service representative. On June 1, 1951, she was united in marriage to Roy Douglas Butler who proceeded her in death on January 3, 1999. Marilyn was also preceded in death by her parents; her stepmother, Thelma Thiel; stepfather, Don Masera, her sister, Madelyn McGuffin, in 2016; and her great grandson, little Vimmer, in 2014. Surviving are her daughters, Debbie (Mark) Lettow, Chonie (Robert) Kirkendall and Lori (Henry) Meier; grandchildren Wendy, Matthew (Nikki) Piper, Adam (Rachel) Meier, Robert Kirkendall, Jamie Kirkendall, Patrick (Jessica) Kirkendall, Meghan (Tim) Bullis, Jordan (Morgan) Meier, Jennee (Vincent) Krell, and Max Meier; 17 great grandchildren; five nieces and two nephews. A memorial service was held on Saturday, July 20, at the McCowen & Secord Funeral Homes, Rupert-Durham Chapel. Visit her page at mccowensecord.com. Donations may go to Southern Care Hospice, Portage.

Bernice King, 94, Portage, passed away on July 1. Bernice was born on April 3, 1925 in an old farm house in Bloomfield Hills. She spent her career as a bookkeeper for various churches over the years. Bernice moved to Portage after retiring in December of 1992. She spent her time as a member of the Eastern Star, Portage Senior Center and traveling with friends and family. The past 10 years were spent playing hand chimes weekly at the Portage Senior Center. Bernice is survived by her daughter, Vicki (Charles) Bailey; granddaughter, Shannon Melvin; and great-grandchildren Tiffany and Logan Melvin. Bernice was preceded in death by her husband, Vernon King, and brother, Leonard Brandt. A memorial service was held on Monday, July 15 at McCowen & Secord Funeral Homes (Avink Funeral Home and Cremation Society). Please visit Bernice’s page at http://www.mccowensecord.com where you can sign the guestbook, share a memory, or archive a photo. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Portage Senior Center.

Karen (Hatfield) Sabin, 64, died of a pulmonary embolism on July 19th in Three Rivers. Karen was born in Vicksburg on December 8, 1954, the daughter of George and Ethel (McElvain) Hatfield. Karen was living on the family farm with her parents and six brothers and sisters until 1965, when her father passed away. They sold the farm and moved to Vicksburg. While moving in, her mother sent the 11-year-old to the neighbor’s house to use the phone. Upon returning home, Karen declared that she would marry the boy that lived across the street. They grew up together as high school sweethearts. She graduated from Vicksburg High School in 1973. On September 21, 1973 she married Timothy Kevin Sabin at the Wakeshma Baptist Church. Karen is survived by her children, Jennifer (Arthur) Roberts and Justin (Hope) Sabin; grandchildren Arthur, Carson, Addison, Jeremy, Alyssa, Sissa and Vanessa; brothers and sisters and their spouses Roy and Alice (German) Hatfield, Judy (Meyers) Hatfield, Don and Judy (Erskin) Hatfield, Doris (Hatfield) Tyler, Mike and Sue (Brookman) Hatfield, Cathy (Queen of the no-bakes) Hatfield, Lloyd and Claudia (Sabin) Jackson and Scott and Cathy (McKinnon) Sabin. She was preceded in death by her parents and son Jeremy; her in-laws Milford and Norma (Hardwick) Sabin, a brother, George Hatfield II; nephew George Hatfield III; and brother in law Walt Tyler.

Max Ray Spealman, 82, Scotts, died July 21 at Kairos Dwelling in Kalamazoo. He was born in Fulton on May 9, 1937, the son of Gerald J. and Fay (Waits) Spealman, and was a lifetime resident of the area. He graduated from Vicksburg High School and served in the Army National Guard. Max was married to Sheila A. Moored on Feb. 19, 1956 in Vicksburg. Max was the head of maintenance for KVCC and later for the Hinman Company of Kalamazoo, and was known to be able to fix almost anything. He enjoyed travelling, camping, bowling, and golf in his spare time. Max is survived by his wife, Sheila; daughters Janice Glenn of Kalamazoo and Judy (Andrew) Radtke of Traverse City; grandchildren, Kristen (Joey) Hall, Melissa (Brent) Wheat, Douglas (Piper) Radtke, Karrie Glenn, and Jeremy Radtke; great-grandchildren Job, Silas, and Sophie Hall, Zachary, Reagan, and Evan Wheat, Corban, Declan, and Adelaide Radtke, and Maxxwell Glenn; a sister, Maxine Irving; and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; a son, Jerry Spealman; and sisters, Jean Homan, Geraldine Decker, and Joyce Lewis. Donations may go to Crossroads Missionary Church or to Kairos Dwelling. Visit his page at eickhofffuneralhome.com.

Obituaries

Yvonne M. Booth (Drake), Vicksburg, died June 19 at Rose Arbor Hospice. Yvonne was born September 1, 1947 in New Castle, Ind. to Eleanor Smith and George Drake. She was the oldest of three children. Yvonne graduated from Vicksburg High School in 1965 and shortly after married Ron Prosser. Soon their first daughter, Wendy, was born, followed 11 months later by Janet. Later in life she married Wayne Booth and went back to college where she earned a medical assistant degree. Yvonne was preceded in death by her mother, Eleanor Smith, and her two dearest friends, Sandy Dorbin and Wendy Britton. She is survived by daughters Wendy (Steve) Pheils and Janet (Jim) Mendocha; siblings Keith (Chantel) Drake and Gail Munn; nieces and nephew Kim Hoffmaster, Tammy Munn, Ciara Hoffmaster, Haley and Drew Nye, and Ellie Hoffmaster-Six; former husband Wayne Booth and step children Brian (Stacy) Booth, Brenda Stevens, and Cary (Cheryl) Booth. She is also survived by her beloved grandchildren, Brianna VanCamp, Paul Pheils, Matthew and Michael Mendocha, Jeremy and Justin Followell, Lindsey Cowan, Lance and Amber Brunt, Rachel, Jacob, Artem, Sergei and Ana Booth. Donations may go to Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan.

Donna Fornoff, Lawton, formerly of Vicksburg, passed away surrounded by family June 2. Donna was born March 10, 1959 to Richard and Florence (Smith) Noel. Donna is survived by her husband, Dave Fornoff; children Tyler and Haley; many grandchildren; siblings Christine Brown and Richard Noel; nephews and a niece Mike Dailey, Matthew Dailey, and Collette Holden; and several great nieces and nephews including Kaylen Holden, Skyler Holden and Tessa Keeler. She was preceded in death by parents Richard and Florence Noel and mother-in-law Gloria Fornoff. Donna’s service was held on Thursday, June 6, at McCowen and Secord Family Funeral Homes, Rupert-Durham Chapel. Please visit her page at mccowensecord.com. Donations may go to American Diabetes Association.

Thomas Kelley, 74, Vicksburg, passed away June 24. Tom was born on August 23, 1944 to Elmer and Donna (Truax) Kelley in Kalamazoo. Left to cherish his memory are his wife of 52 years, Vickie; his son, Tom (Mychi) Kelley, and his grandson, Michael. Also surviving are his sisters, Sharon (Greg) Kilburn and Mary Beth Barret; his sister-in-law, Ruth Kelley and brother-in-law, Keith Sutton, as well as several nieces, nephews and cousins. He was preceded in death by his parents, his in-laws, Jose and Jesusita Escamilla; siblings Patrick Kelley and Michaeline Sutton. Tom graduated from Vicksburg High School in 1963. He served his country proudly in the United States Army. He enjoyed being on the lake and entertaining family and friends. Tom was active in his church and with the Knights of Columbus. He was an animal lover, especially with his favorite cat, Lucy. Please visit his page at mccowensecord.com. Donations may go to St. Martin of Tours Parish.

Michelle Paulette McCowen, 53, Portage, passed away June 23. Michelle was born on April 23, 1966 in Fort Wayne, Ind. to Joe and Carolyn “Sue” (Rice) Tiernan. She graduated from Western High School in Jackson and went on to become a certified nursing assistant. Michelle worked at Bronson Medical Hospital in Kalamazoo as an emergency department technician for 15 years. She loved staying up late watching movies, perfecting her amazing goulash and lasagna recipes, and telling stories around the campfire. She loved animals and accumulated 88 of them over the years. Michelle is survived by her parents, Joe and Sue Tiernan; children Meghan Karle of Brooklyn, Madison Burns of Chicago, Mackenzie McCowen of Vicksburg, Joey McCowen of Vicksburg, and Stephen McCowen of Vicksburg; a sister, Tine (Paul) Prinzi of Clinton Township; niece Kadra Prinzi of Clinton Township; and best friend Mary Wilson of Kalamazoo. She was preceded by sisters Kendra and Shawn Marie Tiernan; and a nephew, Caden Prinzi. Donations may go to Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Janet Rae Pheils, 84, Schoolcraft, died June 13. Janet was born in Sturgis to Daryle and Ruby (Harris) Pheils. The oldest of three, she grew up on the family farm in Howe, Ind. Shortly after the birth of her son, Steven, she moved to Schoolcraft. After retirement from Newhouse Printing Supplies, she delivered Meals on Wheels, and worked every Thursday at the Schoolcraft Auto Auction. Janet was preceded in death by her parents, Daryle and Ruby Pheils, great nephew Nick Hensley and brother-in-law Merl Hensley. She is survived by her son, Steven (Wendy) Pheils, her grandchildren, Brianna VanCamp and Daryle Paul Pheils; her sister, Beverly (Keith) Schraeder; her brother, Daryle Frank (Gail McClish) Pheils; nephew, Scott Hensley; nieces Michelle (Jeff) Todd and Sandra (Tom) Capps. She is also survived by great nieces and nephews Danielle Hensley, Kyle (Mckayla) Todd, Carly Todd, Sam Todd, Thomas Capps and Ryan Capps.

William Richard (Dick) Rafferty, 86, passed away June 8. Son of John and Lorena Rafferty, he was born December 15, 1932 in Kalamazoo. Upon graduation from Schoolcraft High and WMU, he was a teacher and coach in Schoolcraft for over 30 years, and was named to the Michigan High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame. He served on the Village Council and Schoolcraft Community Schools Board of Education. He is survived by his wife Nancy, children Richard (Mary) Rafferty, Kathleen Dixon, Donald (Janice) Rafferty, James (Toni) Rafferty; grandchildren Dianna (Chad) Coley, Cullen (Ashley) Dixon, Cormac Dixon, Jack and Ian Rafferty, Jozie and Drew Rafferty; great granddaughters Kylie and Kinsley Dixon; many nieces, nephews, and extended family. Visit his page at avinkcremation.com. Donations may go to First Presbyterian Church of Schoolcraft.

Shirley M. Sharp, 90, Vicksburg, passed away peacefully at her home June 14. She was born in Schoolcraft, on July 17, 1928, the daughter of Lawrence and Alice (Downey) Beebe. She was one of eight children. Shirley worked at Sutherland Paper Company and also at Vicksburg Schools as a cook. Shirley was married to Quincy Sharp on Jan. 28, 1950, and together they farmed and raised three boys, Eddie (Dee Chriscoe) Sharp, Craig Sharp, and Jeff Sharp. She was blessed with eight grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren. She is also survived by two brothers, Carl (Irene) Beebe and Ronald “Gus” (Mary) Beebe, and by her best friend, Sarah Evans. She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Quincy; and by five siblings. Donations may go to Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan or to Advanced Illness Management at Bronson Methodist Hospital. Visit her page at eickhofffuneralhome.com.

Iva Joyce Snyder, 98, Fulton, passed away June 26. She was born February 13, 1921 in Brady Township, the youngest of Charles and Muriel (Buss) Stuck’s six children. In 1938, she graduated from Athens High School as valedictorian. On May 11, 1941, she married Richard Snyder, who died in 1975. She was also preceded in death by her parents, a son Philip; great granddaughter, Kaylee Mendham; brother, Milton (Ruth) Barnes; sisters, Laura Growth, Eola (Perry) Barnes, Nora (Harold) Wise, Charlotte (Winston) Rice. She is survived by her two daughters, Carol Brigance and Linda (John) Wyant; one son, Steve Snyder; two grandsons, Timothy LaPlante and Jeffery LaPlante; two granddaughters, Aimee (Dan) Mendham and Nicole (David) Furgason; five great grandchildren, Joshua LaPlante, Tanner Mendham, Jacob Mendham, Jacob LaPlante, Eli Furgason, a brother and sisters-in-law and many nieces and nephews. Visit her page at mccowensecord.com. Donations may go to Southern Care Hospice and/or the Fulton Christian Church.

Jackie Terpstra, 69, Vicksburg, passed suddenly while visiting family in Colorado June 18. She was born in Vicksburg to Nellie Bergeon on June 10, 1950. She was raised by adoptive parents Russell and Shirley Franks. While working at Tully Enterprises, she met Jeff Terpstra. They married December 1, 1989. Jackie is survived by her husband, her son, Bob Adams (Stacey); brother-in-law Bradley Terpstra, grandchildren Laura Adams (Eric), Nikki Price (Kareem), Bobby Adams (Heather) and Dakotah Adams. She is also survived by her great grandchildren Heaven, Skei, Anthony, Tristin, Stormy, Haiden, Trinten, Paeyton, Jai’lea, Alei’a; siblings Jim Ames, Linda Butler, Randy Franks, Greg Franks, Tom Franks, Kimberly Kiser, Janice Bergeon Sparks, Charles Bergeon and Fred Bergeon as well as her special daughter in law, Edith Adams. She was preceded in death by her mother, Nellie Bergeon; her adopted parents, Russell and Shirley Franks; brother Lloyd Clark and sister Diane Barker. Visit her page at mccowensecord.com.

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.

Avink Funeral Home Purchased by McCowen & Secord

avink 1
Tim Secord on the left and Steve and Jenny McCowen on the right are the proud new owners of the Avink Funeral Home in Schoolcraft.

By Sue Moore

A year ago, Steve McCowen and partner Tim Secord and their families purchased Vicksburg and Portage funeral homes from Marilyn Durham and her family. In mid-March, the partners made another big move, purchasing the Avink Funeral Home & Cremation Society in Schoolcraft.

“We plan to be very active in the Schoolcraft community,” McCowen said. “We want to give families a funeral home with full-service capabilities. John and Liz Avink were pioneers in adopting the Cremation Society and we will continue that as well as providing options to meet the needs of any family who comes to us.”

The partners also own the Marshall & Gren Chapel in Plainwell. “For many folks, Avink’s means fair and affordable, and for that reason we plan to keep the name of the business the same. People will say they don’t want anything, and our job is to find out what that means to them,” said McCowen. “People have services all the time without it being at the funeral home.

“It’s about honoring the life and meeting the needs of the family. We can provide both right here in this building at 129 S. Grand Street in Schoolcraft or find the right location to meet their needs and size of the event. We have many partners in the community to help with larger events.

“For years the funeral home was the family home of the Avinks and really didn’t have business hours where you know you could stop and visit with someone about your wishes. Now it will be open and staffed from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. where we can meet to make plans with family members. We will write the obituaries with help from the family, take care of the many details such as pre-planning, social security and veterans’ benefits.”

Cremation has been the most used option for a family using Avink’s services in the past. At the other three locations run by McCowen and Secord, cremation is utilized about 50 percent of the time, Secord said. “When most people come in for a visitation they are rather guarded,” McCowen said. “They are truly out of their comfort zone. We tell them that just being there is what matters. The majority who attend don’t know the deceased very well, they come for the relatives. For us, it’s part of being a small-town funeral director and serving your community and their needs.”

Secord began his career in the funeral business after stints as a firefighter, minister, author and speaker. He lives in Otsego with his wife, who is a schoolteacher. They have two children. His mother lived at Barton Lake near Vicksburg and his sister Terri Secord teaches at Vicksburg High School. His real calling in life has turned out to be serving people in the time of their greatest loss, he said.

McCowen became part of a blended family when he married Jenny McKillop last year. Together they have five children and live in Schoolcraft. Jenny’s son attends Portage Central and daughter attends Kalamazoo Valley Community College, and Steve’s two sons are at Vicksburg High School, while daughter Mackenzie attends Western Michigan University. Since coming to Vicksburg 16 years ago, McCowen has been very active in the community, participating with the DDA, the Chamber, the School Foundation and sports programs.

Together the partnership employs four full time people and two apprentices working to become funeral directors. They also employ around 20 part-time staff to be used for funeral services. They have purchased a new hearse to be used at any of their four locations.

“We like to have local members of the community be a part of our operation as we believe it’s better when someone is grieving to be comforted by someone they might know. All of our family members help out when needed,” McCowen pointed out.

Obituaries

Thomas Earl Cook, Jr., 60, Schoolcraft, died unexpectedly April 11 at the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor. He was born on June 26, 1958 to Thomas Sr. and Virginia (Rutz) Cook. Tom obtained an engineering degree from WMU and was in sales at Durametallic/Flowserve for 40 years. He played bass guitar and often hosted parties with his band providing entertainment. With quiet faith, Tom also served as an elder at Westminster Presbyterian Church for the past 10 years. He and his Therese, his wife of 10 years, were involved in the music ministry at church – he played bass guitar while she played percussion. They also served their community. Theresa was appointed clerk of Prairie Ronde Township where Tom served as deputy clerk. Members of his family include his wife, Theresa (Rosneck) Cook; daughters Kaylee (Jeremy) Trinkle and Kendra Cook; grandchildren Leland and Naomi and another grandson expected in August; his parents, siblings David (Cheri) Cook, Linda (Jeff) Dehn and Carrie (Matt) Selbee; his aunt, Phyllis Hall and his uncle Marshall Rutz; his former wife, Judith Joubert; in-laws Leo and Ellen Rosneck; brothers and sisters-in-law Cathy (John) Robertstad, Jim Rosneck, Patty (Jim) Wood and Leo (Stacey) Rosneck and many nieces, nephews, and cousins. He was preceded in death by uncles Larry Hall and Jack Cook. Cremation has taken place. Services were held Saturday, April 20, at Westminster Presbyterian Church. Please visit Tom’s personal web page at http://www.betzlerfuneralhome.com where you can share a favorite memory or photo and sign his online guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to Westminster Presbyterian Church.

Allan Ray Decker, 82, Vicksburg, died April 23, at his home following a long illness. He was born in Colon on Jan. 16, 1937, the son of Clair and Frances (James) Decker. He graduated from Colon High School with the class of 1955. Allan enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in Korea with the Signal Corps. He was married to Geraldine Spealman on April 5, 1959 in Leonidas; they moved to Vicksburg in 1962. Allan worked for Lakeside Refining Company in Kalamazoo for 35 years. He earned his associate’s degree from Kalamazoo Valley Community College in 1975. He was a member of the Disabled American Veterans. Allan is survived by his children, Tammy Decker of Fulton, Karla (Bill) Hodge of Huntersville, N.C., Rod (Christina K.) Decker and their family, and Mark Decker both of Vicksburg; grandchildren Thomas (Rebecca) Decker, Jessica (Jeremy) Shepherd, John Tiller, Ed, and Joe Hodge; a brother, Bruce Decker of Athens; two sisters, Susan Glass of Selina, Ohio and Linda Cubbernuss of Mendon. He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Jerry in 2011; and by brothers Lewis, Wayne and Ronald Decker. Visitation will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Monday, May 6, 2019 at the Eickhoff Funeral Home in Mendon. Funeral services will be 11 a.m. Tuesday, May 7, 2019 at the Crossroads Missionary Church in Mendon with Pastor Bryan Balasa officiating. The family will receive friends for one hour prior to services at the church. Burial will be in Leonidas Cemetery. It is suggested that memorials be directed to the Deacon’s Fund at Crossroads Missionary Church. Condolences may be expressed to the family at http://www.eickhofffuneralhome.com.

Mary Martha Denney, 98, Sherwood, died April 6, at Drew’s Place in Coldwater where she had resided the past 18 months. She was born in Grant County, Ind. on Jan. 22, 1921, the daughter of Frederick and Goldie Mae (DeHoff) Denney. She was a graduate of Athens High School and attended Augerbright Business College. Mary had been employed at Hillsdale Manufacturing, where she made uniforms for the Army. Later she worked at Eaton Manufacturing, polishing valves for aircraft engines. After the war she worked at Lamb Knit in Colon and after its closing, worked at Boyer Lumberyard. Finally, she worked at the Haas Corporation in Mendon where she retired after 24 years. Mary was a member of the Fulton Christian Church. She is survived by four sisters, Bertha Smith of Fulton; Patricia Shepler Carter of Athens, Mable (Elwin) Holtz of Fulton, and Delores (Bruce) Loker of Vicksburg; sisters-in-law Doris Denney and Darlene Denney; many nieces, nephews, and great-nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by sisters Alma Guthrie and Doris Denney; and brothers Arthur, Frederick, William, and Pete Denney. Donations may go to the Fulton Christian Church, 14108 East W Avenue, Fulton, MI 49052. Visit her page at eickhofffuneralhome.com.

Stanley Ray Gose, 63, Vicksburg, died April 10, at Bronson Methodist Hospital. He was born in Sturgis on June 18, 1955, the son of James M. and Leona R. (Gorsline) Gose. Stanley graduated from Vicksburg High School with the class of 1973. He was employed at Simpson Paper Company in Vicksburg for 23 years. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, and golf. He was a big Detroit Tigers fan and always looked forward to trips to the ballpark. Stanley was married to Susan Elizabeth Abbott on Aug. 6, 1977 in Vicksburg. She survives along with three children, Michael Gose, Michele (Dan) Ochko, and Melissa Gose, all of Vicksburg; and special friend Joe (Cecilia) Fritz. Stanley was preceded in death by his parents; baby brother, Robert Gose, and close friend, Art Schultz. Graveside services were held Monday, April 15 in Vicksburg Cemetery with Rev. Chris Salter officiating. Memorial donations may be directed to the American Cancer Society or a charity of one’s choice. Arrangements were by the Eickhoff Funeral Home of Mendon. Condolences may be expressed to the family at http://www.eickhofffuneralhome.com.

Donald O. Lash, 89, Vicksburg, passed away April 12. Don was born on November 4, 1929 in Vicksburg. He was the son of Earl and Nora (Lunger) Lash. He served his country during World War II in the Army Air Corps for three years. After he returned from the service, he married the love of his life, Doris Eilene McClish. Don is described as a generous, strong-willed, good and endearing man. In his spare time, he enjoyed being outdoors, deer hunting and mushroom hunting. He also loved to play cards and enjoyed woodworking. Don is survived by his wife of 69 years, Doris Eilene; children Patricia (Phillip) Prichard, of Centreville; Betty (Rick) Mayo, of Scotts; Gerald Lash, of Vicksburg; Ron (Pam) Lash, of Vicksburg; Terri Simmons, of Vicksburg; 13 grandchildren, 30 great grandchildren, and four great great grandchildren. He is also survived by his sisters, Rose (Floyd) Moore, of Vicksburg and June Potter, of Vicksburg. He is preceded in death by four brothers and one sister. Funeral services were held at Chapman Memorial Church of the Nazarene, Vicksburg, on Tuesday, April 16. Visit Don’s page at mccowensecord.com. Donations may go to Reverence Hospice.

Ronald J.E. “Ron” Myers, 86, Scotts, died April 9, at his home. He was born in Comstock on April 5, 1933,c the youngest of three children born to Ralph and Alison (Spealman) Myers. After high school, Ron served in the National Guard. He was married to Marian D. “Pete” Homan on May 29, 1952 in Leonidas. Ron was a carpenter at Miller Davis in Kalamazoo for 7 years. He later became a millwright at the General Motors plant in Kalamazoo where he worked for 27 years. Ron was a Mason and life member of the Portage Brady Lodge #34. He enjoyed hunting and fishing throughout his life. When his children were young, he was a 4-H Leader and taught woodworking and coached softball. Ron is survived by a daughter, Pamela Borsodi of Osceola, Ind.; a son, Philip Myers, of Pampa, Texas; grandchildren Mary (Todd) Franks, Rachel (Ian) Hamilton, Jonathan (Isabella) Borsodi, Emily (Ashton) Anthony, Adam Borsodi, and Matthew Borsodi; great-grandchildren Leah Franks, Reed Hamilton, Gavin Franks, Kayleigh Hamilton, Mia Borsodi, Ania Borsodi, Emerson Anthony, and Braxton Anthony; daughter- in- law, Judy Myers; friend and caretaker, Sue Porter; and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, sons Jerry Eugene Myers and Glenn Myers; brother James Myers; and a sister, Virginia Dunn. A graveside service was held Saturday, April 13, in Leonidas Cemetery. It is suggested that memorial donations be directed to either Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan, 222 N. Kalamazoo Mall, Kalamazoo, MI 49007 or to Shriner’s Hospitals for Children, 1502 USF Pine Dr., Tampa, FL 33612. Condolences may be expressed to the family online at eickhofffuneralhome.com.

Richard Eugene Nielsen, 82, loving great-grandfather of 16, grandfather of 17, father of five and husband of one, went to be with his Savior on March 30. Richard was born on July 6, 1936 in Vicksburg and graduated from Vicksburg High School and Western Michigan University. He taught business at Vicksburg High School, was Dean of Business at Glen Oaks Community College, and served as Assistant Superintendent of Business for the Vicksburg school system. He moved to Reston, Virginia in 1984 to help pastor a church. He used his business and fatherly skills to counsel countless people in both finances and life. He was a member of the Vicksburg and Reston Rotary Clubs for 45 years, and led teams of Rotarians on several medical trips to help the people of Haiti. On September 4, 1954, he married Ardith Barnes, a marriage that lasted 56 years until Ardith’s passing in 2011. They raised two daughters and three sons. Richard loved to travel and visited many countries. He frequently visited his out-of-state children and grandchildren. He hosted many guests in his Washington DC area home. Of utmost importance to Richard was his faith. He leaves a great spiritual legacy, as his children and grandchildren love the Lord. Richard was proceeded in death by his wife, Ardith, and his grandson, Benjamin. He is survived by his children, Rodney (Jeannie), Cindy Champion (Bruce), Bradley (Tonya), Deanna Sturgeon (Craig), and Kent, his sister, Sandy, his niece, Michelle, and nephew, Daniel.Donations may go to KARIS (sowingkindness.org).

Janet L. Noonan, 80, Vicksburg, passed away April 14. She was born on March 30, 1939 to David and Hazel (Mandoka) Mackety. The family was proud of being members of the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi Pine Creek Reservation. She graduated from Athens High School and went to nursing school for her career, working in several hospitals in the area. She loved her women’s Bible study groups, her flowers and gardening. She is survived by her husband of 31 years, Vincent; children Leah (Curt) Wiser of Kalamazoo, Albert Sprague of Kalamazoo, Scott (Mary) Sprague of Wayland, Marilyn (Larry) Schmidt of Portage; three grandchildren and four great grandchildren. She is also survived by stepchildren Anthony (Carrie) Noonan, of Florida; Jo (Terry) Heath, of Vicksburg; Ron (Vicki) Noonan, of Marcellus; Polly Noonan, of Florida; sisters Ann Mackety, of Tekonsha and Lynne Guess, of Athens; and several nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by parents David and Hazel Mackety and a brother, Jim Mackety. Visit her page at mccowensecord.com. Donations may go to the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan.

Clarence “Bernie” Root Jr., 80, Vicksburg, passed away March 18. He was born on June 16, 1938. Bernie was one of seven children born to Clarence Root Sr. and Helen Ames. He graduated from Kalamazoo Public Schools, joined the Army and was stationed in Germany. Bernie is survived by his sons, Jeff and Brian; a daughter, Jennifer; grandchildren Johny Foote, Sara Foote, Andy Foote, Ryan Root, Bobby Root, Jerry Root, Erica Root, Jesica Miner, and Gabby Miner; and several great grandchildren. Bernie is preceded in death by his parents; and his oldest daughter, Kelly Root. Bernie was married to Sharon Lewellyn for over 40 years. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, and living the farm life until his later years, when he resided in Vicksburg on Sunset Lake. A memorial service will be planned in May at Ft. Custer National Cemetery. Visit Bernie’s page at mccowensecord.com. The family is being assisted by McCowen & Secord Funeral Homes.

Martha Taylor, 72, formerly of Marcellus, passed away March 25. She was born in Albion on January 31, 1947, the daughter of Rev. Kenneth Jacobs, Sr. and Louise Owen Jacobs. Martha graduated from Marcellus High School in 1965 and resided in Marcellus until she married Ronald Taylor on March 28, 2001. Martha worked for Cass County Sheriff Department and Three Rivers Police Department, then retired from St. Joseph County Central Dispatch in 2012, after 20 years. She was a member of the Fraternal Order of the Eagles Women’s Auxiliary in Portage/Schoolcraft. She and her husband were snowbirds for the last four years in Destin, Florida. Along with her loving husband, Martha is survived by her son, John (Kathi) Carney of Sturgis, daughters Amy (Brian) Taylor Johnson and Jennifer Johnson, both of Vicksburg; sister Faith (Mike) Harris of Marcellus, brother Andrew (Pam) Jacobs of Niles, grandchildren Jayson Wallace, Dru Carney, Kristopher Leeder, Sam Carney, Benjamin, Cloe, Lucas, Jaidyn and Brady Johnson, 14 great-grandchildren, and many cousins, nieces and nephews. Martha was preceded in death by her parents, brothers James Jacobs and Kenneth Jacobs, Jr., and a sister, Ruth Jacobs. Donations may go to the Eagles Club 3531 – Ladies Auxiliary in Portage/Schoolcraft. Visit her page at materralstonfuneralhome.com.

LeRoy VanMaanen, 80, Portage, passed away suddenly at Bronson Hospital on March 27, sadly on his birthday. He was a firefighter for 35 years. LeRoy was the fire chief at Westwood Fire Station and also a fire fighter for the City of Kalamazoo. In addition, Leroy owned several side businesses, A1 Laminating and Roy’s TV. He also worked for Hoekstras Greenhouses and Long John Floral, delivering flats of flowers around southwest Michigan. He was very devoted to his church, Lakeland Reformed, and his family. LeRoy’s family includes Gloria VanMaanen, his wife of 13 years; his children Debra Comstock, Barbara VanMaanen, Nancy (Joe) Fink, Gary (Dawn) VanMaanen, and step children Sherri (Mike) Pence, Steve (Elva) Arend, John (Sue) Arend and Wendy (Robb) Rittner; 21 grand children and nine great grandchildren; a sister, Helen (John) Rishel; and cherished friend Dick Johnson. He was preceded in death by his wife of 35 years, Phyllis VanMaanen, his brother and sister-in-law Jack and Kathy)VanMaanen and his sister, Sondra Madsen. Funeral services were held on Saturday, March 30, at the Lakeland Reformed Church. Please visit LeRoy’s page at mccowensecord.com. Donations may go to the family to help cover funeral expenses or to Lakeland Reformed Church in memory of LeRoy.

Gail Nadine Wade, passed away on March 28. She was born on Oct. 4, 1937 to Emily “Grace” and Fredrick Guy Phinney. Growing up in Detroit, she was active in Voice of Christian Youth and worked as a carhop in her teenage years. She graduated from Cass Tech High School with a major in nutrition. In 1955, she and her family moved to Lake City, Michigan where she began working at Mercy Hospital in Cadillac in the dietary department. She also met and fell in love with Bill Wade. They were married on May 18, 1957 and had three daughters. Besides raising a houseful of girls, she worked for a while part-time at Vicksburg Schools and eventually started working at Triple S Plastics in Vicksburg. She enjoyed riding motorcycles and was a member of the Gold Wing Association. In the aftermath of a serious motor vehicle accident almost a year ago, she was residing at Masonic Pathways in Alma, where she passed away. She had also been in the Long-term Acute Care unit at Pipp Hospital in Plainwell for a lengthy period of time. It seemed that no matter what was thrown her way, she would always have a smile on her face. Preceding her in death were her parents, sisters Jeanne Phinney and Patricia Phinney, daughter Beverly Taylor. Surviving are her loving husband, William Wade, daughters Kathleen (Greg) Yarworth and Tracey Wade, eight grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren and sisters Jo (Darrold) McKeown and Judy (Gordon) Lydic. Cremation has taken place. There will be a gathering for family and friends at a later date.

Obituaries

Mary Lou Adams, 81, of Indian Lake, Vicksburg, died March 17 at Rose Arbor Hospice. She was born June 4, 1937 in Hopkins, the daughter of Vernon and Maxine (Marron) Weick. Mary Lou was a 1955 graduate of Hopkins High School and earned her bachelor’s degree in teaching from Western Michigan University. After several substitute teaching positions, she found her career at UpJohn Company working in interlibrary loans, retiring in 1996. On July 4, 1960, Mary Lou married George D. Adams. They were members of St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Parish, where she served as a Eucharistic Minister. She was a gifted crafter, including knitting, cross-stitching and quilting. She is survived by her husband, George Adams; children Dan (Sandy) Adams, Philip (Mary) Adams, and Mary Beth (Jim) Kelly; grandchildren Janae, Matt, and Joey Adams, Abby Adams (Ryan Meddaugh), Kyle, Sean, and Brendan Kelly; a brother, Bill Weick; sister Laurie Weick-Wood; sisters-in-law Gloria Shoemaker and Barb Adams; her brother-in-law Earl Bensinger; and several nieces and nephews. Donations may go to Alzheimer’s Association or Hospice of Southwest Michigan. Visit Mary Lou’s page at langelands.com.

Robert “Bob” Arndt III, 46, Vicksburg, passed away March 12. He was born on November 6, 1972. He grew up in Schoolcraft and was proud to join his father and uncle at the South Kalamazoo County Fire Authority, serving for 19 years. By 2011, his dream job came up: He left his job as a factory worker to drive a semi-truck for Steve Smith of SSS Farms. He is survived by his wife of 23 years, Dawn; children Cody (Devin Uren-Price) Arndt of Westland and Natalie Arndt of Vicksburg. He is also survived by his parents, Robert J. Arndt of Schoolcraft and Karen Korakas of Toledo, Ohio; siblings Tara (Gregg) Leavell of Battle Creek; Kim (Steve) Shafer of Decatur; Brad Hull of Leonidas; and Bryan (Tim Vancha) Hull of Zephyrhills, Fla.; nieces and nephews Dante Leavell, Drew Leavell, Tagan Pollock, Trent and Nicole Marnell, Stephen Hull, Josh Hull, Hannah Hull, and Katelyn Hatfield; mother and father-in-law Donald and Judith Hatfield, of Galion, Ohio; sister-in-law Melissa Hatfield, of Galion, Ohio; brothers-in-law Eric (Rick Fournier) Hatfield, of Mansfield, Ohio, and Kevin Hatfield, of Marcellus; and special cousin Jodi Campbell, of Schoolcraft. He was preceded in death by aunt Nancy and uncle Tim-Tom Campbell, and uncle Jerry Burch. Visit Bobby’s page at mccowensecord.com. Donations may go to Heartland Hospice and South Kalamazoo County Fire Authority.

Thomas Baker
, 75, Vicksburg, died suddenly on March 16. He was born in Flint Sept. 9, 1943, to Fred and Martha June Baker, and grew up in Kalamazoo. He attended Kalamazoo Central High and went on to Western Michigan University, where he studied business. He was hired by GM, one of the first hires at its Sprinkle Road plant and worked there until it closed in 1999. Tom married the love of his life, Denise Hames, in 1974. The couple had two children, Lindsay and Zachary. In retirement, he was caretaker for properties near Pretty Lake. He could fix anything, loved to play with the grandkids and fishing on Barton Lake. Tom is survived by his wife, Denise, children Lindsay Baker and Zachary (Heidi) Baker, grandchildren Alexandra and Simon, a sister, Betsy Baker, and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents and a sister, Victoria Baker. Visit his page at betzlerfuneralhome.com. Donations may go to the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy.

Lori May Blakely, 37, Vicksburg, passed away March 16. She was born Dec. 15, 1981, to Robert and Elizabeth “Liz” Pierson. She attended Vicksburg schools and began dating her future husband, William Blakely, a classmate since middle school, in her senior year at Vicksburg High School. An avid reader, she also enjoyed gardening and spending time with friends and family, especially her beloved sons, Brendan and Connor. When she wasn’t deep into a novel, she was listening to her favorite country artists or 90s music. She is survived by her husband, William, sons Brendan and Connor; and siblings Jerry and Jimmy Pierson. Visit Lori’s page at mccowensecord.com. Donations may go to the family.

Wesley “Jack” Buckallew, 75, Vicksburg, passed away March 17. He was born Nov. 28, 1943, to Gerald and Florence Buckallew. Jack graduated from Vicksburg High School and attended KCC. He met his wife-to-be, Cynda, in the college cafeteria and married her in June, 1964. The couple raised two sons, Jeff and Mark. Jack was a Cub Scout leader and attended all of his boys’ sporting events. He was a Sunday School teacher at Vicksburg United Methodist Church and a member and past president of the Lions Club. He is survived by his wife, Cynda, sons Jeff (Kim) and Mark (Mary) and grandchildren Jordan (Lindsey), Chris, Daniela, Jason, and Braiden Buckallew. Jack was preceded in death by his parents, twin brother Joe, sisters Beverly Schuring and Alice Dibble and grandchildren Micah and Jacob Buckallew. Visit Jack’s page at mccowensecord.com. Donations may go to the American Diabetes Association.

Cathy Sue Farrel, 66, Schoolcraft, passed away March 22. Cathy was born on January 26, 1953 to Carrol and Jacqueline (Simpson) Syers. Cathy’s family includes her husband of 26 years, Bill; her children, Melissa Morgan, Nichole Bruner, Derek (Jessica) Farrel and William Farrel III; a sister Lorie (Bernie) Smith; grandchildren Katlynn, Bradley, Beth, Bryon, Lila, Jamie, Monica, DJ, Adi and Harper; great-grandchildren Makayla and Emma as well as several nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents and her brother, Ron Syers. Cathy was a great mother who loved her family dearly. A memorial service is being planned.

Marilyn Marie (Mason) Keene, 88, of Kalamazoo, formerly of Vicksburg, passed away peacefully at Friendship Village March 7, with her family by her side. Marilyn was born on June 5, 1930 in Kalamazoo. She graduated from Kalamazoo Central High School in 1948 and attended Western Michigan University where she met her husband, James Terrell Keene. On July 27th, 1951 they were married. Marilyn worked as a nursery school teacher, 4-H leader and enjoyed her time as a local garden club member. She taught ceramics and started a successful floral business that specialized in providing silk flowers for weddings. She enjoyed writing poetry and stories for her grandchildren, painting beautiful watercolors and researching her family history. She is survived by her husband, daughters Suzanne (Brian) Rucker, Lori (Floyd) Phalen; grandchildren Lindsey Rucker, James (Maggie) Rucker, Emily (Kyle Waite) Rucker; great grandchildren Marilyn Waite and Max Rucker; a sister, Janis (Jack) Loomis and many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents, Beulah (Loomis) Mason and Alton Mason, a sister, Barbara Vanden Akker, a brother and sister in law, Richard and Avis Keene, nephews Ronald Keene, Brian Loomis and Robert Vanden Akker, and nieces Diane Burhans and Sharon Loomis. A celebration of life will be held on April 27 at 11 a.m. at Schoolcraft United Methodist Church, followed by visiting and fellowship at the church. Private burial services will be held at Oakwood Cemetery in Allegan. Donations may go to Doctors Without Borders. More information is available at Avink Funeral Home.

Timothy L. Lafler, 54, Fulton, passed away March 19. Tim, the son of Willard and Maysie Lafler, was born on Oct. 23, 1964 in Kalamazoo. Tim was fun, caring, and strong-willed. He loved to tinker with cars. He is survived by sons Jacob Lafler of Flint and Nick Lafler of Mendon; his parents, Willard and Maysie Lafler, of Fulton; a brother, Willard Lafler; numerous nieces, nephews and cousins; and his special dog, Chopper. He was preceded in death by his brother, Edward Lee Lafler, and sister-in-law Tori Lafler. A memorial gathering for Tim will be held April 13 from 12 to 3 p.m., at the Fulton Christian Church. Visit Tim’s page at mccowensecord.com. Donations may go to Generous Hands.

Judy Ann (Dolhay) Lem, 74, Vicksburg, died March 18, surrounded by family. Judy was born November 13, 1944 in Kalamazoo, the daughter of Louis and Carolyn (Stewart) Dolhay. On May 31, 1961, she was married to Jack Lem Sr. Judy worked at WMU for over 15 years retiring in 2001. Judy is survived by her husband, Jack; sons, Jack Lem Jr. and Patrick (Kimberly) Lem, a daughter, Robin Lem; grandkids Jack Lem III, Elizabeth Lem, Anthony Gauna, Joe Gauna, Brie Gauna, Zachary Lem, and Alyssa Lem; great-grandkids Mickey Lem, Morgan Lem, Mason Wolfe, her little Johnny Northrop, with whom she had a special bond; and brothers Rick Dolhay, Steven “Bud” Dolhay, John (Patti) Dolhay, Joe Dolhay; sister Susie (Mike) Birkhold; and several cousins, nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her son, Todd, her parents, her brother Robert Dolhay, sister Carol “Lynn” Converse, nephews John Paul Converse and Tim Birkhold; and great-nephew Eric Hartwell. Judy loved Myrtle Beach, shopping, arts & crafts, bowling, cookouts, and going out with her WMU girlfriends. Donations may go to the Eric Hartwell Foundation, erichartwellfoundation.com. Visit Judy’s page at langelands.com.

Phyllis J. Minnis, 84, Fulton, passed away March 3. She was born to Forrest and Grace (Marble) Moored on November 1, 1934. She graduated from Vicksburg High School in 1952, where she met Robert Minnis. They married in 1956. Phyllis had fantastic skills in the kitchen and was known for her blueberry buckle and blueberry and cherry pies. Phyllis was an avid golfer and spent many years playing on a golf league until arthritis kept her from being able to play. She then took up aerobics, continuing until two weeks before her death. She was a diehard Detroit Tigers fan. Phyllis is survived by her children, Karen (Joe) Austin, Alan Minnis and Linda (Dan) Colter, all of Fulton; grandchildren Kathy Austin, of Fulton; Brad (Kayla) Minnis, of Vicksburg; Brandon (fiancée Heather Norton), of Three Rivers; Josh (fiancée Darcy Simmons) Gilkey, of Mendon; Audrey (Cody) Smith, of East Tawas; and Collin Colter, of Fulton; Kevin Colter, of Kalamazoo; and Daniel Colter, of Kalamazoo; and many great grandchildren. She is also survived by her sister, Sheila (Max) Spealman, of Scotts; and several nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her husband, Robert, in 2001; and grandsons Brian Minnis and Kurt Austin. A funeral service was held on March 7 at the Wakeshma Community Church, Fulton, followed by burial at South Fulton Cemetery. Visit Phyllis’ page at mccowensecord.com. Donations may go to Wakeshma Community Church.

Richard Eugene Nielsen, loving great-grandfather of sixteen, grandfather of seventeen, father of five, and husband of one, went to be with his Savior at the age of 82 on Saturday March 30. Richard was born on July 6, 1936 in Vicksburg and graduated from Vicksburg High School and Western Michigan University.  He taught business at Vicksburg High School, was Dean of Business at Glen Oaks Community College, and served as Assistant Superintendent of Business for the Vicksburg school system.  He moved to Reston, Virginia in 1984 to help pastor a church.  He used his business and fatherly skills to counsel countless people in both finances and life.  He was a member of the Vicksburg and Reston Rotary Clubs for 45 years, and led teams of Rotarians on several medical trips to help the people of Haiti.  On September 4, 1954 he married Ardith Barnes, a marriage that lasted 56 years until Ardith’s passing in 2011.  They raised two daughters and three sons. Richard loved to travel, and visited many countries across the globe.  He frequently visited his out-of-state children and grandchildren. He hosted many guests in his Washington DC area home, some for months at a time.  He loved to eat, and he loved his desserts.  Of utmost importance to Richard was his faith.  He leaves a great spiritual legacy, as his children and grandchildren love the Lord. Richard was proceeded in death by his wife, Ardith, and his grandson, Benjamin.  He is survived by his five children, Rodney (Jeannie), Cindy Champion (Bruce), Bradley (Tonya), Deanna Sturgeon (Craig), and Kent, his sister Sandy, his niece Michelle, and nephew Daniel.  A memorial service will be held on Saturday, April 27 at Agape Christian Church in Kalamazoo, 609 Cherokee St., Kalamazoo, at 11:00 a.m.  In lieu of flowers, Richard has requested any donations be sent to KARIS (sowingkindness.org) at 10521 Judicial Drive, Suite 204, Fairfax, VA  22030.

David B Palmer, 54, Vicksburg, passed away March 10. David was the son of Robert and Norma Palmer. He graduated from Vicksburg High in 1983 and worked for more than 25 years as a lab technician for Rx Optical. He was described as a gentle person who enjoyed helping others, enjoyed golfing and as an avid bowler scored a couple of perfect games. He is survived by his mother, Norma, a brother, Douglas (Sue) Palmer of Arkansas, a sister, Deborah (Chris) Wedel of Mendon, and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his father. According to David’s wishes, he was cremated. A memorial gathering will be held at a later time. Visit David’s page at avinkcremation.com. Donations may go to Generous Hands.

Tim Shook, 63, Miami, Florida and formerly of Fulton, died unexpectedly March 21. Arrangements are pending and will be announced by the Eickhoff Funeral Home of Mendon. Condolences may be expressed to the family at eickhofffuneralhome.com.

Raymond L. Snyder
, 81, passed away peacefully at his home in Holland, MI March 20. He was born on October 9, 1937, in Fulton, the son of Harry and Laura Snyder. Ray graduated from Vicksburg High School in 1956 and immediately began working in retail sales. He had a long and storied career with W. T. Grant Company. He was the owner of The Country Squire Men’s and Ladies Clothing Store in Flora, Illinois through 1989. He officially retired in April 2018. Ray loved working with his flowers and plants and spent many hours arranging and rearranging them until they were exactly right. He was preceded in death by his parents; a sister, Harriet Ryder, and brother, Willard Snyder. Ray is survived by his wife, Jane, and their daughters, Susan Taylor and husband, Mike, of Charleston, Illinois, and Laura Prior and husband, Ed, of Princeton, Indiana. Ray has three grandchildren, Christopher Scaggs (Jessica); Courtney Finley (Daniel); and Kaitlyn Taylor (fiancé Albert Adkins). He has a great granddaughter, Natalie, and two great grandsons, Bentley and Mason. Also surviving are a brother, Robert (Mildred) Snyder of Holland; sister, Ruth (Jay) Hartgerink, of Portage; and several nieces and nephews. A memorial service honoring Ray’s life will be held Saturday, April 6, at Third Reformed Church in Holland. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations and memorials be made to Hospice of Holland.

Robert Michael Steffler (Bob), 60, Schoolcraft, passed away at home March 16, with his wife, children and parents by his side, just 21 hours before his 61st birthday. Bob was diagnosed in February, 2017 with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and fought this with courage, never giving up. Bob was born on March 17, 1958 in Kalamazoo to Robert and Jane (Brady) Steffler. Bob grew up in the Milwood neighborhood, graduating from Loy Norrix High School in 1977. He went on to graduate from Denver Automotive College in 1978. From there he began a lifelong career in the automotive field. He first work at Daleiden’s Auto body, then worked the next 34 years at Morrison Industrial Equipment. Bob met the love of his life and best friend, the former Ann C. Loy. They were married May 9, 1987 at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Kalamazoo. They resided and raised their family in Schoolcraft. Bob loved the game of golf. For many years he played every Friday from June to October with his dad. He always flew the Notre Dame flag on game days. Bob is survived by his beloved wife, Ann, his daughter and son-in law, Katelyn and Chase Jones, of Middlebury, Ind.; his son, Matthew Steffler, of Schoolcraft; his grandchildren, Alexi Ann and Mason Micheal; his parents, Robert and Jane Steffler of Kalamazoo; brothers John (Barb) Steffler, Parchment; Mike (Tracy) Steffler, Kalamazoo and Dan (Stacy) Steffler, Portage, and his sister Susan (Ben) Peterson of Portage; many nieces and nephews and his mother-in-law, Madelyn Loy, Schoolcraft. His father-in-law, Millard Loy, preceded him in death. Memorials can be made in Bob’s name to St. Catherine of Siena, Simply Cremations, 4500 Kalamazoo Avenue SE, Kentwood MI 49508.

Frederick Max Streeter, 73, Kalamazoo and Zephyrhills, Fla., passed away unexpectedly March 9, in Wesley Chapel, Fla. Fred was born February 22, 1946 in Kalamazoo, to Max and Eleanor Streeter. After graduating from Vicksburg High School in 1965, he was drafted into the Army. When he returned, he was united in marriage to Jacqueline (Brotherton) on September 4, 1970, his soulmate for 48 years. Fred was a Mason and Past Master with the Masonic Blue Lodge in Mattawan. He was a member and past president of the Justin Morgan Horse Association and involved in 4H. For years he owned Fred’s Hardware Store and was known as the man who could fix anything. Fred later retired from Consumers Concrete where he worked as a dispatcher. Fred spent the last 10 years living in Zephyrhills and made friends with everyone he encountered. Fred is survived by his wife, Jacqueline; a daughter, Shannan (Brendon) Frank; a son, Jason (Lyndsey) Streeter; granddaughters Taylor, Jayley, Ella, Alyssa, Sydney and Savannah, and ßa brother, Tom (Kathy) Streeter. He was predeceased by his parents. A celebration of life will be held in Kalamazoo at a date to be determined. Visit Fred’s page at avinkcremation.com.

Valeria Thrasher, 92, Mason, formerly of Vicksburg, passed away on March 14. Val was born on December 16, 1926. A graveside service was held on Thursday, March 21 at Maple Grove Cemetery in Mason. Val’s family includes her children, Steve (Linda) Simon and Lydia Thrasher; grandson Nathan as well as several nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents and her husband, Henry Thrasher. The family is being assisted by the McCowen & Secord Funeral Home, Rupert Durham Chapel.

Obituaries

Danny Lee Castle, was born April 30, 1953, in Kalamazoo, the son of Glenn and Irene (Cothran) Castle. He graduated from Galesburg-Augusta High School in 1971. Danny liked to tell folks he studied at the University of Honky-Tonks, Dives and Biker Bars, where he could often be found playing as a member of the band. Music was Danny’s language, his vocation and his greatest joy. He played in several regional and local bands throughout the years including North Country, Upland Express, Barker’s Castle, and JAG Band. In 1974, Danny composed the song, “Michigan Again,” which was recorded by Rutzy Leonard and the Morrow River Gang on WOW records in 1978. On his 65th birthday, Danny was diagnosed with a very rare type of bile duct cancer that had metastasized throughout his body. He fought hard to enjoy the remaining days of his life – far exceeding the short life expectancy he had been given. Danny’s legacy will be the many ways he showed his family and friends the value of living life on your own terms, keeping a song in your heart and demonstrating that love and kindness are by far the most important and richest traits a person can possess. Danny began his celebration in the afterlife on Feb. 24, reuniting with his parents and brothers, William Castle and Carl “Butch” Castle. Danny is survived by his loving wife, Dana Hetrick Castle, and children Angela (Kevin Dockerty) Peck, of Schoolcraft; Elizabeth (Tyler) Cheesebro of Virginia Beach, Va. and Jake (Haley) Ross of Ooltewah, Tenn. He was affectionately known as Grampy to Rilley, Lillian and Serie Briggs; Mason and Peyton Ross and Graham and Fynn Cheesebro. Danny is also survived by three siblings, Larry Castle of Florida, Susan (Robert) Eaton of Portage, Mary (Bruce) Edmonson of Parchment; sisters-in-law Janis (John) Castle-Dodge of Mason, Mich. and Linda Castle of Galesburg; a very special cousin, Colleen (Dennis) Ocker of Grand Rapids; several special nieces, nephews, and cousins as well as a large circle of friends. A memorial gathering was held on Saturday, March 2 at the VFW in Augusta. A memorial wake will be held later this summer. The family is being assisted by the McCowen & Secord Family Funeral Home, Rupert-Durham Chapel, Vicksburg.

Lee A. Coville, Sr., 91, Vicksburg, passed away Feb. 4. Lee was born Aug. 12, 1927 to Harold and Luvera (Verrill) Coville. Lee was a lifelong farmer who also enjoyed dancing, singing karaoke, bowling, and his family. He was honorably discharged from the Army Air Corps in 1947. Lee leaves behind his wife, Lori Ann (Bacon); a son, Lynn (Stacey) of Vicksburg; a daughter, Beth Marie (David) Davis, of Dowagiac; and a stepdaughter, Molly Beale (Dan) of Vicksburg. Lee also leaves behind 11 grandchildren and several great-grandchildren. Lee is survived by his brother, Wendell (Linda) Coville; daughter in law, Karen Coville; and several other brothers and sisters in law. Lee was preceded in death by his wife, Evelyn Marie (Brown); a son, Lee Albert Jr.; a sister, Annabelle Scheibner; a brother, Harold (Barney) Coville; and a nephew, Thomas “Jeffrey” Brown, whom he raised. Donations may be directed to the Coville family to cover expenses.

Janet Ellen Doorn, 71, Scotts, passed Feb. 2. She is survived by daughters Michael (Chris) Schoultz of Scotts and Deanne (Jeremy Crabtree) Doorn of Portage; siblings Carol (Ken) Stuart, James Nelson; sister in law Linda Hinds; grandchildren Andrew, Olivia, and Jaxson as well as several special nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her daughter, Amy Bartolameolli; parents Ed and Anne Nelson; siblings Rick, Tom, and Barbara; as well as Don Doorn. Please visit Janet’s page at mccowensecord.com. Donations may go to the family.

Max “Mike” Eberstein, 76, Vicksburg, passed away Feb. 3. He was born Dec. 1, 1942, in Vicksburg,to Max E. and Marie (Stevens) Eberstein. He is survived by his wife, Jill Eberstein; his children, Scott (Linda) Eberstein, Sherry (Ivan) Riddle, Kevin (Lisa) Eberstein, and Tammy (Tom) Parsons; 19 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren. Due to Mike’s wishes the family will be having a private memorial service. Donations may be made to Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan or the West Michigan Cancer Center. Please visit Max’s page at langelands.com.

James E. Erskine, Scotts, passed away Feb. 7. He was born to Ernest and Marcella Erskine on June 11, 1946. After graduating from Vicksburg High School, he served in the U.S. Marine Corps and was honorably discharged in 1968. He worked at General Motors for 33 years. One of Jim’s highlights was the annual pig roast that he hosted for 30 years. One of his favorite things to do was to head up north to his deer camp near Escanaba. Jim’s family includes his wife, Bonnie Erskine; daughters Shelly Hirdning and Stacy Erskine; step-children Maria (Mick) McCallister and Kevin Bowling; granddaughter Shelby Hirdning; step-grandchildren Terra McCallister, Karissa McCallister, Miranda McCallister, Caden Bowling, Conner Bowling and Carson Bowling; great-granddaughter Paisley Bunch; siblings Virginia Schuring, Judy (Don) Hatfield, and John Erskine. Jim also leaves behind numerous close friends. Jim was preceded in death by his parents, brother-in-law Robert Schuring and granddaughter Stephanie Hirdning. Jim will be buried with military honors at the Fort Custer National Cemetery. Visit Jim’s page at mccowensecord.com. Donations may go to Heartland Hospice.

Linda Gail Gerow, Schoolcraft, died peacefully Feb. 16 at Rose Arbor Hospice. She was born to Clayton and Twilah (Huss) Stevens on December 17, 1950. She graduated from Portage Central in 1969. Surviving are her husband, Kim; children Sarah Gasper, Jeff (Deanna) Gerow, and Mandy (Ryan) White; grandchildren Cory, Derek, Bailey, Clayton, Brennan, Savannah, Irelyn, Lindsay, Chelsea, Brooke; five great-grandchildren; father-in-law Raymond Gerow; and many nieces and nephews. Linda was preceded in death by her parents. Services were held Thursday, Feb. 21. Burial will take place at Fort Custer National Cemetery. Please visit Linda’s page at betzlerfuneralhome.com. Donations may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Dr. John Michael “Mick” Hanley, 73, of Scotts, passed away Feb. 11. He was born September 26, 1945 in Butte, Montana to the late John and Elizabeth (Harrington) Hanley. Mick earned his B.A. in English from the University of Montana-Dillon. He taught high school English and coached for three years. He then earned his M.A. in speech-pathology and audiology from the University of Montana and practiced in public schools until 1974. Later, he earned his Ph.D. in speech hearing and science from the University of Iowa, where he served as a faculty member from 1977-1980 before joining the faculty at Western Michigan University. In 1990, Mick became the chair of Western’s Speech Pathology and Audiology Department and served in that position for 17 years. Mick’s areas of expertise included research, training, and clinical emphasis on the communication disorder of stuttering. During his years at WMU, Mick won the WMU Distinguished Service Award as well as the Council of Academic Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders Distinguished Service Award. In 2006, the John “Mick” Hanley Endowed Scholarship was established at Western. Mick enjoyed golfing, skiing, reading, and camping. He was married to his best friend, Sherry Matson, on Aug. 10, 1968. Mick was preceded in death by his parents and a son, Kevin Sean Hanley. He is survived by his loving wife of 50 years, Sherry Hanley; son, Keith Michael (Lisa) Hanley; grandchildren, Brady John and Brody Michael Hanley; sister, June (Joel) Berry; brother, James Hanley; and numerous nieces and nephews. Donations may be made to the Dr. John M. Hanley Endowed Scholarship at Western Michigan University or the American Cancer Society.

Fred Kohler, 71, Vicksburg, passed away Feb. 10. He was born Sept. 20, 1947 to Arnold and Maxine Kohler. Fred’s family includes his former wife, Cynthia Wolf; children Arnie (Melissa) Kohler, Bradley Kohler and Pamela Grgrich; grandchildren Devon, Jordan and McKenzie; siblings Tom (Brenda) Skelton, Mike (Marsha) Skelton and Dennis (Joan) Humphrey and many nieces and nephews. Fred was preceded in death by his parents and a sister, Nancy Shutes. A memorial service for Fred will be held at a later date to be announced. Services are being handled by McCowen & Secord Life Story Family Funeral Home, Rupert-Durham Chapel, Vicksburg. Fred will be buried with military honors at the Fort Custer National Cemetery. Visit Fred’s page at mccowensecord.com. Donations may go to Disabled Veterans.

Marjorie “Margie” Luther, 87, Vicksburg, passed away unexpectedly January 28. She was born to the late Melba Mueller Hoger and Elmer “Mac” Hoger on August 27, 1931. Margie spent her early years on Throop Street in Chicago. Margie married in 1960 and divorced after 14 years. After that, she lived and worked independently in Brookfield, Ill. She retired from Allied Products as assistant to the president in 1997. Margie inherited her parents’ lakeside home in Vicksburg, a place familiar from her childhood. The home was built on Indian Lake in 1911 by her maternal grandfather, Charles Mueller. It was a family summer cottage and has remained in the family for over a century. Margie had it renovated and retired there in 1998. Margie is survived by her first cousins, Dorothy Brown of Midlothian, Ill., Warren Hoger of Wheaton, Ill.; Chuck Hoger of Anaheim, Calif.; and Patti Pigney of Palm City, Fla.; other family members (especially Beth Hoger, and Patti and Pete Koelle), kind neighbors (especially Jon and Kitty Kachniewicz), and her church family (especially her Bible study group and Pastor Joan). Donations may go to Lord of Life Lutheran Church or South County Community Services. Margie’s life will be remembered on March 26 at Lord of Life Lutheran Church. Margie’s remains will be interred at a later date at Concordia Cemetery in Forest Park, Ill. Arrangements by Joldersma & Klein Funeral Home.

Robert E. Smith, 67, Vicksburg, passed away Feb. 3. He was born to Sidney and Dawn (Horning) Smith on July 15, 1951, the oldest of seven children. He graduated from Comstock High School in 1969 and enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, serving for 12 years. Bob loved selling his pumpkins at the Vicksburg Farmers’ Market. He later learned to make and sell delicious homemade jams and maple syrup. Bob had a knack for making others feel special. He was a former president of the Vicksburg Historical Society, a member of the Farmers’ Market Board, and helped with the advertising of the South County News when it was first starting out. He was especially proud of his involvement with the Harvest Festival. Bob is survived by his loving wife, Kathy; a son, Brandon Smith, of Vicksburg; and a stepson, Johnathan Donlin, of Kalamazoo. Visit Bob’s page at mccowensecord.com. Donations may go to Generous Hands.