Category Archives: Obituaries


Linda Susan Ailes, Schoolcraft, passed away at her home October 21. She was born April 18, 1960 in Kalamazoo, the daughter of Carl and Joanne (Engle) Wisner, and had been a lifelong area resident. On July 26, 1980, Linda married Ryan B. Ailes, who survives. Also surviving are her children, April Ailes, Jason (Nicole) Ailes and Stephen (Jamie) Ailes; grandchildren Dylan, Morgan, Jalynn, Liam, Davis, Esmae and Marley; parents Carl and Joanne Wisner, mother-in-law Marylou Ailes; sisters Karen (David) Booth, Teresa (Greg) Dragoo and Beth (Arthur) Agletingler; and several nieces and nephews. Donations may go to or in Linda’s name. Visit Linda’s page at

Cheryl Ann (Mandly) Barker, 75, Vicksburg, passed away October 12. Cheryl was born in Gary, Ind. on June 6, 1944, the daughter of Antone and Christina (Engle) Mandly-Berg. Cheryl’s father passed away when she was two years old. Her mother married Fredrick John Berg, who truly became her father. While in nursing school, Cheryl would meet the love of her life, William Charles Barker, on a blind date. They married August 20, 1966, then moved to Michigan, where they created their life together on Barton Lake. Cheryl received her degree in nursing from Illinois-Masonic Hospital, Chicago. She began her career as a registered nurse and worked in pediatrics at Cook County Hospital. Cheryl would continue her nursing career for over 50 years, which included working at Bronson Hospital and Heartland Healthcare Center. She was a proud member of the American Legion Auxiliary #261 Cedar Lake Indiana. Cheryl enjoyed cooking, gardening, antiquing, but most of all Cheryl loved being on the lake. She could be found enjoying the sunshine, boating, fishing, water skiing and entertaining. Her love for the lake taught her adored children, grandchildren, foster grandchildren, and great grandchildren to love the lake life as well. She was preceded in passing by her parents, her husband Bill, and one daughter, Sandra Barker. Surviving to cherish her loving memory are a son, William John Barker, daughter Cheryl Lou Moore, both of Vicksburg; sisters Luana (David) Klaas, Ruth(Randy) Deweese, Annette (Terry) DeVries, and Verna (Robert) Carr, a brother, John (Tana) Berg; grandchildren Courtney, Mitchell and Isaiah Moore, William and Anna Barker, Jessica Johnson, and Latorya Smith, nine great grandchildren and a host of other relatives and friends. Donations may go to American Legion Auxiliary #261. Envelopes available at Hohner Funeral Home in care of arrangements. Online condolences may be shared at

William Thomas “Bill” Bush, 79, died from complications of pancreatic and liver cancer October 4. Born and raised in Schoolcraft, the son of William Michael Bush and Ella Jane Wright, he was a long-time resident of Redding, Calif. Bill worked as a farmer and then as a mechanic on agricultural equipment. Bill basically loved anything with a motor and could fix anything. He leaves his wife of 35 years, Eileen Bush of Redding; children Tom Bush and wife Debra of Schoolcraft; Cheryl Crawford and husband Billy of Ashland, Ore.; and, AJ Gigliotti and wife Ali of Shasta Lake City, Calif.; grandchildren Brittany Hetrick of Schoolcraft, Jesse Gigliotti of Redding, Tucker Gigliotti of Shasta Lake City, and Cassidy Gigliotti of Shasta Lake City; great-grandchildren Tristan, Bryce, Jackson, Audrey, and Kennedy; and brothers, David Bush of Battle Creek and Richard Bush of Goshen, Ind. He was preceded in death by his sisters, Alma and Judy, and a brother, Walter. Donations may go to the National Pancreatic Cancer Foundation at

Arthur (Corky) Clayton Emrick Jr., 61, Florence Township, Constantine, died Aug. 19 of natural causes. He was born March 2, 1958, in Vicksburg, the son of Arthur Clayton and Ida Mae (Parsons) Emrick Sr. He had been a Constantine resident since 1995, coming from Vicksburg. He was employed for more than 20 years by the Sturgis Journal as a photographer, journalist and sports editor. He was a recipient of numerous Associated Press, Michigan Press Association and Gatehouse Media “Best of Gatehouse” awards. He was synonymous with prep sporting events in St. Joseph County, spending much of his time on the sidelines and interacting with coaches and student-athletes. He also embraced his role as a news reporter for the Journal, serving on the police, fire and courts beat. Prior to working at the Journal, he was a dispatcher and police cadet for Kalamazoo Township, involved with local fire departments, police and dive rescue. He was a fan and shareholder with the Green Bay Packers, enjoyed his dogs and cooking. On Dec. 16, 1995, he married Susan Kay Walters in Constantine. She survives, along with his parents, Arthur C. and Ida M. Emrick Sr.; his children, Arthur Clayton Emrick III, Tyler John Emrick and Emilee Brianne (Jeremy) Leech; stepchildren Amanda Walters, Nathan (Carolina) Walters, Matthew Walters and Mark (Kelly) Walters; two grandchildren and a step-grandchild. Donations may go to the athletic department of a school of the donor’s choice.

Penny Gail Esman, 67, Vicksburg, passed away October 15. Penny was born on February 14, 1952 in Indianapolis, Ind. She was the daughter of Preston Hubert and Edna (Sumerville) Lard. She graduated from Kalamazoo Central High School and attended classes at Kalamazoo Valley Community College. On January 24, 1981, she married the love of her life, Harm Esman, Sr. She was a CNA that worked at Friendship Village and various other places over the years. She is described by her family as awesome, sassy, loving, strong-willed, beautiful, silly and sometimes a little goofy. Her greatest gift besides for her love for her family was helping others. She was a very selfless person who brightened the lives of those she touched. She was preceded in death by her parents and her sister, Esther Lard. She is survived by her husband of 38 years, Harm Esman Sr; her children, Delbert “Bud” James (Aimee Labrec) Gunnett, of Athens; Jeremiah Lee (Shannon) Gunnett, of Kalamazoo; Jedediah Jack (Crystle) Gunnett Sr, of Grand Junction; Harm Esman Jr, of Kalamazoo; Jessica Ann (Michael) Lopez, of Vicksburg; and Jennifer (James) Boren, of Vicksburg. She is also survived by her 20 grandchildren, Tristen, Cammi, James, Stephanie, Kaitlyn, Jeremiah Jr, Cherrish, Jedediah, Brittany, Harm III, Christian, Briana, Autumn, Cordell, Savannah, Justine, Zack, Audrey, Alexis, and Chelsea; great grandchildren Madalynn and Harper; a brother, Preston “Corky” Lard Jr, of Kalamazoo. Penny will be cremated and the family will have a Celebration of Life Service at a later date. Visit Penny’s page at

Thomas A. Krill, 67, Schoolcraft, passed away on the weekend of September 27. He was born September 22, 1952 in Kalamazoo to Frederick and Doris (Haas) Krill. Tom was a 1971 graduate of Loy Norrix High School and a resident of the Kalamazoo area all his life. He was the proud owner of the Krill’s Korner party store, located in the Edison neighborhood, for over 30 years. Tom enjoyed golfing, fishing, cooking, travelling, playing poker and was an avid coin collector. He was a loving father, grandfather, brother, and uncle who enjoyed spending time with close friends and family. Tom is survived by a son, Casey Krill; grandchildren Madison Krill and Oliver Krill; brothers Frederick (Cindy) Krill, Charles (Cindy) Krill, Phillip (Sue) Krill, Joseph (Robyn) Krill, James Krill; and sisters Janet (James) Carter and Joyce Jarmen. He was preceded in death by his parents and his brother, Donald Krill. Per his wishes, cremation will take place and funeral and burial services will be determined at a later date. Visit Thomas’ webpage at

Jesse E. Rochholz, Jr., 81, Schoolcraft, peacefully passed away at home October 18 after a battle with Lewy body dementia. He was the son of Jesse E. Rochholz, Sr. and Virginia (Burson) Rochholz. He moved from Mattawan to Schoolcraft in 1948 and graduated from Schoolcraft High School in 1957. He was married to Sandra Rochholz for 60 years. He was an accountant in the agricultural business for 29 years. Both he and his wife retired on August 31, 2002. He enjoyed spending time with his family, making model cars, auto racing, and Tiger baseball. Surviving are his wife, Sandra Roccholz, sons Michael (Brenda) Rochholz, of Schoolcraft and Jesse E. Leroy “Roy” (Rosie) Rochholz III of Schoolcraft, daughters Paula (Robert) Beckman of Ohio and Dena (Stephen) Holman of Schoolcraft; grandchildren Stephen Rochholz, Sara Wright, Nicole Enzweiler, Jessica Wynne, Holly Smith, Michael Geesaman, and Brad Geesaman and 10 great grandchildren. He is also survived by sisters Janet Pratt and Judy Molenaar, as well as several nieces, nephews and cousins. He was preceded in death by his grandson, Paul Beckman. Visit Jesse’s page at Donations may go to Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan.

William “Bill” Slater Jr., 84, Vicksburg, passed away peacefully surrounded by family October 25. Bill was born to William and Emma Slater on September 9, 1935. Bill is survived by his significant other, Joyce Beckner; his daughter, Sue Gonser (Mike Colasanti); grandchildren Steven Quada (Kayla Imler), Paul (Karen) Quada, Joshua Slater (Angel Nocis), Lindsey (Bret) Borock, and Brittany (Shaun) Rutgers; a daughter in law, Michele Slater, as well as several siblings. Bill was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Ellen (Brooks) Slater; and son, Steve Slater. Visit Bill’s page at

Gordon Lou Sutton, of Schoolcraft, passed away September 21, at the age of 72. Gordon was born on September 11, 1947 in Kalamazoo. He was the son of Garlef and Beryl (Prosser) Sutton. Gordon graduated from Mattawan High School in June 1966. He then joined the Army in November, 1966 and served through November, 1969. He was preceded in death by his parents, Garlef and Beryl Sutton, and his brother, Lloyd Sutton. He was survived by his sons, Scott (Shawn) Sutton and Gary (LeAnne) Sutton. He is also survived by his sister, Sondra (James) Shilling. Visit Gordon’s page at

Gregory John Visel, 32, Schoolcraft, died October 10. Greg was born September 30, 1987 in Kalamazoo, the son of Barry and Nancy (Schneidt) Visel. Known as one who loved giving hugs, Greg made friends with everyone he met and was especially fond of and thankful for those he met through his Circle of Friends social group. He enjoyed the latest technology, calling or FaceTiming people regularly just to chat. He particularly loved competing in the Special Olympics in several sports including bowling, track, basketball, soccer, and others. Greg was preceded in death by his mother, Nancy. Surviving are his father, Barry; brothers Ben (Trisha) Visel and Pete Visel; and nephews and nieces Jake, Joe, Addie, and Lexi. Cremation has taken place to be followed by private burial. Visit Greg’s page at Donations may go to Special Olympics Area 16.

Josephine “Jo” Weems, 76, Schoolcraft, died September 26. She was born on June 4, 1943 in New Jersey. In 1984, Jo and her husband, Connie, moved to Michigan, where they settled in Schoolcraft. She spent years working for Ernst and Young and Lane Bryant, which meant she had an amazing wardrobe. Jo only bought the clothes they sold, changing her wardrobe every time they came out with a new line since she told her husband this was required by the company! As a result, Jo had three full closets of clothes and endless boxes of shoes. In 2012, Jo was deeply saddened with the death of her beloved husband, but she did her best to not let it slow her down. She joined the Kalamazoo Area Newcomers Club and Sit and Stitch where she gained many new friendships. Jo’s family includes her two children, Scott Weems and Chris (Cheri) Weems; grandchildren Jake and Allison Weems, and a brother, Peter (Pat) LaPlaca. Visit Jo’s page at Donations may go to Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan.

Frances Marie Weinberg, 96, of rural Three Rivers, died Oct. 1 following a brief illness. She was born in Plainwell on Nov. 17, 1922, the youngest of seven children born to Dwight and Edith (Eley) Marker. She was married to Rex Hamilton Weinberg on Aug. 16, 1941 in Kalamazoo. Together they operated a farm north of Mendon, owned a dry cleaning and laundry service in Kalamazoo’s Oakwood Plaza, and ran the John Deere dealership in Vicksburg. They were members of the Farm Bureau, working the St. Joseph County Fair booth and ushering for many years in the grandstand. They wintered in Florida every year beginning in 1962. She was an active member of the West Mendon Community Church for 70 years. Frances enjoyed yardwork and gardening, playing dominoes and bingo with friends, and especially loved time with her family. She was eager to share words of wisdom and advice with her family, and she took great pride in things being, neat, clean and well organized. Frances is survived by her son and daughter in law, Ron and Pat Weinberg of Mendon; grandchildren Troy (Sandra) Weinberg, Sheli (Mark) Daniels, Jeff (Elizabeth) Jergens, Robin (Mark) Parks, and Tim (Tonya) Jergens; 20 great-grandchildren; eight great-great-grandchildren; and a son in law, Pat (Judy) Jergens. She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Rex, in 2010; and her daughter, Carolyn Jergens, in 2006. Donations may go to the West Mendon Community Church. Visit her page at

Milford “Mel” Weinberg, 84, Scotts, passed away September 30. Mel was born on April 6, 1935 at home in Brady Township to Harold A. and Mary K. (Waltz) Weinberg. He moved to his current home and farm in 1937 and grew up attending Pavilion #4 country school and enjoyed the many class reunions in his later years. He graduated from Vicksburg High School in 1953. He then attended Western Michigan University before entering the Army in 1958. He served for two years in Germany. On October 9, 1965, he married the love of his life, Joanna (Haefner) Weinberg. Together, they raised three children on that same farm which today is operated and managed by his son, Todd. Mel was a “people person” and had a natural love for farming, the farm community, his family and his church connections. He was a member of Lakeland Reformed Church for over 40 years and the Latecomers Farm Bureau Group of Kalamazoo County. His home farm was where he loved to be. Family vacations were usually short as he was always ready to get back home until daughter Molly and family moved to Hawaii where he didn’t mind a few extra days. In October of 2015, the three kids held a surprise 50th wedding anniversary that Mel and Jo very much appreciated. In later years, overcoming health issues began to take their toll, physically and mentally. But he always looked forward to the kids and grandkids coming home through the summer months. Mel leaves his wife of 54 years, Jo; children Molly (Weinberg) Schake, of Mililani, Hawaii; Todd H. Weinberg, of Scotts and Chad R. Weinberg, of Alexandria, Va., a son-in-law Mark Schake, and daughter-in-law Therra (Ebwe) Weinberg; grandchildren Emily Schake, Wendy (Schake), Daniel Lyons, Nathan Schake, Brooke Schake, Ryna Weinberg, Corban Weinberg, and Phoebe Weinberg. He was preceded in death by his sister, Ellie (Weinberg) Fitzgerald, and brother, Stanley Weinberg. Visit Mel’s page at


Harriet L. “Pat” Bacon, 87, Fulton, died Sept. 20, at Bronson Battle Creek Hospital. She was born in Fulton on March 25, 1932, one of 10 children born to Jonathin D. and Effie May ((Huffman) Parsons. She attended Fulton Elementary School. She was married to Donald W. Bacon on June 25, 1949 in Hastings. Donald died in 2001. Pat had been employed as a nurse’s aide at the Kalamazoo County Rest Home and the Alamo Nursing Home. She enjoyed cooking for her family and appreciated all kinds of music. Pat is survived by four children, Robin (Richard) Lafler of Fulton, Cookie Gettys of Kalamazoo, David (Kristine) Bacon of Colon, and Lori Coville of Vicksburg; 20 grandchildren, 33 great-grandchildren; and several great-great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Donald Bacon; son, Russell Bacon; daughter, Carol Terry; sons in law Thomas Gettys, Lee Coville, Sr, and J.C. Terry; and by siblings Sylvia Woodell, Mary Dubbeld, Addie Mason, Margaret Shook, Paul, George, Bill, John, and Chauncy Parsons. Donations may go to the family. Memories and condolences may be shared at

Mary Catherine Brandt Beebe, was born to Rufus Lewis and Tena Anna (Roberts) Brandt in Ohio City, Ohio on June 14, 1944. She married Ronald Edward Beebe, better known as Gus, on November 20, 1965 in Vicksburg. Together they raised 12 children and fostered around 25 children. Aunt Mary was the name that she was often called not only by nieces and nephews, but by daycare kids as well. She also hosted five-day clubs and invited neighbor kids as well. She gave out several candy bars for scripture memorization. She even gave rides to many kids for church. Mary passed away on September 4, after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s. Mary Beebe was preceded in death by her parents, Rufus and Anna Brandt, a granddaughter, Destiny Beebe, and eight siblings. She is survived by her husband, Gus Beebe, children Tena (Rod) Bartholomew of Belding, Mich., Ron Beebe Jr. of Vicksburg, Michelle Perez of Port Huron, Mich., Patty (Randy) Graham of Almont, Mich., Don (Kyeong) Beebe of Kalamazoo, Tom(Jenny) Beebe of Palatine, Ill., Ralph(Tammy) Beebe of Mendon, Sherri(Jeremiah) Coe of Portage, Veronica Mickaels of Kalamazoo, Dawn, Howard, and Amber, 20 grandchildren, one great grandchild, siblings Martha Pride of Scotts, Don (Lovina) Brandt of Geneva, Ind., and Charles (Joyce) Brandt of Sarasota, Fla., many nieces and nephews and even more great nieces and great nephews. Donations may go to Kalamazoo Gospel Mission. Memories may be shared with the family at

Guy Jay Bowen, 63, Marcellus, formerly of Schoolcraft, passed away September 7. Guy was born on October 25, 1955 in Sturgis, Mich. He was the son of Charles and Shirley (Bawden) Bowen. Guy graduated from Schoolcraft High School in 1974. He owned and operated Guy Bowen Plumbing and Repair and was a member of Local 357, Plumber’s and Pipefitter’s Union. His family described him as a funny, hardworking, generous, kindhearted, gentle but tough-when-needed kind of guy. He is preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by his three children, Scott (Lana) Bowen of Marcellus, Amy (Joshua) Wright of Mattawan and Laura (Zachary) Nizen of Paw Paw; grandchildren Brynn, Tucker, Olivia, Oliver, Ally and Milo. He is also survived by his sisters, Connie Dozeman, June Morand, and Sherry Dorko, all of Schoolcraft; step-brothers Jim, Dan and Mike Struble, all of Ohio. Visit Guy’s page at Donations may go to the SPCA.

Larry Couch, 70, Dayton, Ohio, passed away September 14. Larry was born March 17, 1949 in Hazard, Kentucky, the son of John and Jane (Wooten) Couch. He will be remembered for his outgoing personality, the huge smile he shared with everyone he met and for being one of the funniest people you’d ever meet. Larry is survived by daughters Joddie (Toby) Neusbaum, of Vicksburg, Jamie Alleshouse, of Vicksburg, and Joni (Chad) Gervers, of Rapid City; grandsons Kaleb and Jared Neusbaum and Logan Alleshouse; great grandchildren Emma Jo and Jace Neusbaum. He is also survived by his mother, Jane Couch of Dayton; a sister, Donna (Freddie) Phibbs of Dayton, and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his father, John Couch, and his little brother, Butch Couch. Larry has been cremated and a celebration will be held at a later date. Visit Larry’s page at

Scott Allan DeYoung, 52, Vicksburg, died Sept. 17, at Rose Arbor Hospice following a long illness. He was born in Kalamazoo on Dec. 10, 1966, the son of Frederick and Eleanor Mae (Copenhafer) DeYoung. He graduated from Vicksburg High School in 1984 and furthered his studies at Career Quest in Kalamazoo. He was a machinist by trade and worked at X-L Machine of Three Rivers for 10 years and briefly at Stryker Corporation until his health forced him to retire. Scott had a life-long love of camping. He enjoyed yardwork, computer games, watching all sports, and fixing and repairing things. He especially looked forward to family reunions. Scott is survived by his mother, Eleanor Cooley; his father, Frederick DeYoung; children Chelsea (Nickolas DeRyke) DeYoung of Schoolcraft and Michael (Melanie Morello) DeYoung of Grand Rapids; granddaughters Emarie, Nora, and Daisy; three brothers and two sisters. He was preceded in death by his stepfather, Richard Cooley; a sister, Kay Katie DeYoung; paternal grandparents Harm and Arlene DeYoung; maternal grandparents Westley and Louisa Copenhafer. Donations may go to Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan. Condolences may be expressed to the family online at

Carol J. Ennis, Schoolcraft, passed away September 17. Carol was born July 11, 1947 in Kalamazoo, the daughter of John and Trena (Kiel) VanderRoest. She worked for several years as the office manager of Stannard’s Music. Carol was an active and faithful member of Prairie Edge Christian Reformed Church and was a devoted wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She enjoyed attending her children’s and grandchildren’s sporting events and many other times with family and friends. On April 15, 1966, she was united in marriage to Glenn Ennis Jr., her loving husband of over 50 years, who survives. Also surviving are her daughters, Lisa (Jim) Goble, Dawn (Jeff) Jackson, Kim (Michael) Crampton; grandchildren Austin (Lauren) Jackson, Alyssa Jackson, Josiah and Lydia Goble, Sadie Crampton; great grandson Ellis Jackson; sister-in-law, Brenda VanderRoest; sister and brother, Marcia (Rick) VanDyke and Tom (Char) VanderRoest; and several nieces and nephews. Carol was preceded in death by her parents; and a brother, Jim VanderRoest. Donations may go to the Alzheimer’s Association, Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan, or Prairie Edge Christian Reformed Church. Visit Carol’s page at

Eileen Margaret Goldberg, 95, Vicksburg, passed away September 18 at The Laurels of Galesburg. Eileen was born on September 3, 1924 in Roseville, Mich. She was the oldest of five children of Eddie and Martha Marshall. She met Harry Goldberg at Peniel Bible Institute in Stanton, Ky. In March, 1950 they eloped in marriage. In 1952 they settled in Vicksburg, where Eileen enjoyed being a homemaker, sewing dresses for her daughters and making meals from scratch. Eileen was preceded in death by all her siblings, and a daughter, Sandra Lynn Wirth, in May, 1982, and, more recently, her husband Harry Goldberg in April, 2017. She is survived by a daughter, Marjorie Ann (Mark) Newhouse, of Augusta; a son, Paul William (Kitti) Goldberg, of Vicksburg; five grandchildren and eight great grandchildren. The family will be having a private graveside service at Fort Custer National Cemetery. Visit Eileen’s page at Donations may go to the Southern Care Hospice.

Thomas B. Holt, 68, Athens, passed away September 18. Tom was born to Theodore and Bernice (Weimer) Holt on February 5, 1951. He was a 1969 graduate of Vicksburg High School. After high school he served his country in the United States Army and was a Vietnam veteran. He is described by his family as a gentle, very tender hearted and giving. In his spare time he enjoyed watching television and caring for his cats. Tom is survived by his sister, Marilyn (David) Baird, of Fulton; nine nieces and nephews and several grand nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by his brothers, Donald and Theodore Holt; and his grandniece, Megan Holt. A graveside service to bury Tom’s ashes will be held on Saturday, October 12, at 11 a.m. at the North Fulton Cemetery. Tom will be buried with military honors. On Tom’s webpage at, sign his guestbook and share a memory with the family. Those who wish may make memorial contributions to the Disabled American Veteran’s (D.A.V). The family is being assisted by the McCowen & Secord Funeral Home, Rupert-Durham Chapel.

Jacqueline “Jackie” E. Hunt, 86, Vicksburg, passed away September 6. Jacqueline Elaine Ringler was born in Kalamazoo on June 20, 1933 to Rose and Harold Ringler. She married Douglas R. Hunt after knowing him for only two weeks. They were married almost 50 years. She worked as a visiting nurse for many years. She was preceded in death by her husband, Doug; son, Dougie; sisters Joanne Powell and Barb Kuilema. Surviving are her children, Deb (Larry Britten); Jill Siljander; Steve (Diane) Hunt and Greg (Laura) Hunt, 14 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren. She is also survived by her brothers, Jim (Sandy) Ringler and Terry Ringler. She will be remembered for her love of animals, fishing and her humor. The family had a memorial gathering on Thursday, September 12, at the McCowen & Secord Funeral Home, Rupert-Durham Chapel, Vicksburg. Please visit Jackie’s webpage at where you can read her obituary, sign the guestbook, and share a memory. In lieu of flowers, those who wish may make contributions to the Ronald McDonald House.

Terry Lee McMillan, 69, Schoolcraft, passed away September 2. Terry was born on January 22, 1950 in Three Rivers. He was the son of Charles and Pheobe (Welcher) McMillan. He graduated from Schoolcraft High School in 1969. Terry is described as an outdoorsman who was one with nature, lived life to the fullest and didn’t worry about tomorrow. Terry is survived by his wife, Marsha; stepsons Robert (Wendy) Lash, of Three Rivers and Nathan (Kelli) Lash, of White Pigeon; and seven grandchildren. He is also survived by brothers David McMillan, of Schoolcraft; Dale (Bobbi Jo) McMIllan, of Schoolcraft; and Tracy (Schelle) McMillan, of Schoolcraft and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his brother, Dennis McMillan. Terry has been cremated and a memorial gathering will be held for Terry at a later date. Visit Terry’s page at Donations may go to the Southwest Michigan Coonhunters Organization: 306 E. Edgar Bergen Blvd, Decatur, MI 49045.

Anna L. Merriam, 80, Vicksburg, died under hospice care at her sister’s home September 11. She was born December 20, 1938, in Kalamazoo, the daughter of Claude Hoogakker and Fannie Ruth (Goble) Burr. Ann graduated from high school in Portage. On January 10, 1959, Ann was married to Allen E. Merriam. For over 45 years, she was a devoted member of the Chapman Memorial Church of the Nazarene, where she assisted in the office and the nursery. Ann enjoyed photography, painting, reading and word searches. Her family includes her children, Gail (Robert) Feister, Terry (Dorothy “Jake”) Merriam, and Jerry (Marie) Merriam; her daughter-in-law, Marcia Merriam; her nine grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren; sisters Bonnie (Jim) Nelson and Nona Tucker; step-sister Kathy and several nieces and nephews. Ann was preceded in death by her husband, Allen; her son, Jody Merriam; and her sister, Claudia Hill. The family suggests memorials be directed to Chapman Memorial Church of the Nazarene. Visit Ann’s page at

Caryl Jeanne Miller, 80, Schoolcraft, passed away September 27. Caryl was born on March 26, 1939 in Three Rivers. She was the daughter of Ralph and Louise (Swem) Lillie. She was a graduate of Three Rivers High School and a member of the Class of 1957. On September 5, 1959 at Three Rivers Bible Church she married Jacob “Jake” Miller. Caryl’s family describes her as creative, kind, giving, loved people and selfless. Her hobbies included knitting, crocheting, card making, and china painting. She was a great cook who loved trying new recipes and was an avid reader. She was a member of Three Rivers Bible Church. Caryl is survived by her husband of 60 years, Jacob “Jake”; children Lynette (Tim) Wolthuis, of Vicksburg and Mark (Mary) Miller, of Kentwood; grandchildren Philip (Alicia) Miller, of Hudsonville; Holly Miller, of China; Amy Miller, of Kentwood; and Levi Miller, of Kentucky; a great granddaughter, Sidney Miller. She was preceded in death by her son, Matthew in 1995. A memorial service will be held at a later date. Visit Caryl’s page at Donations may go to Southern Care Hospice.

Evelyn M. Watson, 89, Scotts, passed away September 17. She was born to Charles and Mildred (Blackburn) Davis on December 17, 1929. She married Joseph Wrather right out of high school. A daughter, Connie, was born in 1953 and, unfortunately, Joe died later that same year. She later married Richard Watson and they moved to Michigan from Indiana. Evelyn’s career as an RN was celebrated when she retired from Bronson Hospital after 17 years of service. In retirement, as her own health became more challenging, Evelyn was fortunate to welcome her special caregiver into her life. Not only did Deborah Morphew afford Evelyn quality care, the two quickly became both friends and family. Evelyn was a devoted member of the Scotts United Methodist Church and was a Sunday school teacher for many years. Evelyn was preceded in death by her husbands, son Richard James “Jim” Watson; and siblings Mable Jones, Raymond Vetor and Pat Slagele. She is survived by her children, Connie Decker of Vicksburg, Phyllis Smith of Vicksburg, John (Diane) Watson of California, Dennis (Laura) Watson, of Kalamazoo; numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. She is also survived by her special caregiver and friend, Deborah Morphew, of Vicksburg. Visit Evelyn’s page at Donations may go to the Scotts United Methodist Church or Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan.

William Francis West, 92, of rural Vicksburg, died Sept. 13, at his home. He was born in Olney, Ill. on Dec. 13, 1926 the son of Harley and Mattie (Delzell) West. After graduation from Athens High School, he worked at the Oliver Plant in Battle Creek and for Wolf’s Feed and Grain in Athens. For many years he worked at Hydreco of Galesburg, and after retirement worked at the Felpausch Grocery in Vicksburg. Francis had been a member of the Wakeshma Community Church, the Chapman Memorial Church of the Nazarene, and West Leroy Bible Church. He was always busy, raising cows and sheep, fixing and repairing equipment, and collecting antiques. He was a representative for Dekalb Seed Corn, and enjoyed photography. Francis was married to Margaret A. Loker on June 22, 1947. She survives along with their children, Linda (Lee) Crotser of Scotts, Mary Lou (Sal) Cali of Sturgis, Diane Blain of Portage, and Alan F. West of Sherwood; 10 grandchildren; 20 great-grandchildren; two great-great-grandchildren; a brother, Clifford (Sue) West of East LeRoy; nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; brothers Eugene and Charles West; and a sister, Coyla Dornton. Donations may go to Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan, 222 N. Kalamazoo Mall, Kalamazoo, MI 49007. Condolences may be expressed to the family at

Charles Lowell Woodhams, 69, passed away at his home in Cottonwood, Ariz. September 6 after a brief illness. He was born to Francis and Bessie (Lemon) Woodhams on August 6, 1950 on his parents’ 20th wedding anniversary. He graduated from Schoolcraft High School, attended KVCC, joined the Navy and served in Vietnam. He is survived by his wife of 31 years, Marcelle “Bobbi,” and his son, Steven. His living siblings are Marjorie Rowden McCauley, Mary Ritter, Elizabeth Shearer, Joyce (Kenneth) Hamming, James (Margaret) Woodhams, Linda (Daniel) Garrett. He was preceded in death by his parents, sister Beverly and nephew P. John Hamming. Charles has 18 nieces & nephews and 28 great nieces and nephews. Donations in his memory may be made to a favorite charity.

Jerry Yoder, 79, Vicksburg, passed away September 18. Jerry was born on December 8, 1939 in Burne, Ind., the son of Aaron and Fern (Young) Yoder. He was a 1968 Vicksburg High School graduate. He married Rosemarie Powers on February 6, 1959. Jerry worked until his retirement at Kalamazoo Stamping & Die. He was outgoing, giving, and observant. Jerry was preceded in death by his son, Thomas Yoder and brother, Jacob “Lee” Yoder. He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Rosemarie; children Bob (Vicki) Yoder, of Vicksburg; Barb “Babs” (Mark) Forward, of Galesburg, Patrick (Angela) Yoder, of Tennessee; five grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren. He is also survived by a step-brother, Kyle Taylor, of Portage and several nieces and nephews. Visit Jerry’s page at Donations may go to the American Heart Association or West Michigan Cancer Center.


Janice “Jan” Applebey, Vicksburg, passed away peacefully August 10. She was known as “Mom”, “Sis”, “Jan”, “Auntie Jan”, “Granny” and “Apple” to all who loved her. Jan was born January 18, 1940 to Stanley Hattis and Helena Shlagor in Kalamazoo. Jan is the proud mother of two children, Kerenda Applebey and Ron (Kim) Applebey; grandmother to Jynell (Clint) Tackett, Nick (Ashley) Ruggles and Martez (Jessica) White; and great grandmother to Melody Tackett, Brooklyn Tackett and Rylee Ballard. Jan is also sister to Althea Smith of Florida, Yona Reed of Florida, Stanley (Wanda) Hattis Jr. of Minnesota, Ronald Hattis of Michigan, and Larry (Ruth) Hattis of Alabama. She also leaves behind many nieces and nephews. Jan was preceded in death by her parents and her husband, Meredith “Jay” Applebey. Jan worked as a packer at Stewart-Sutherland Bag Company for 20-plus years. She enjoyed gardening, and driving around with her best friend looking for wildlife. She enjoyed sewing, painting, and knitting and crocheting. She played cards or dice almost every day. Visit her page at Donations may go to Rose Arbor Hospice.

William “Bill” Berner, Vicksburg, 77, passed away at Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo. Bill was born April 8th, 1942 the son of William and Donna (Stratton) Berner. He was a Vicksburg resident for over 40 years. Bill is survived by his wife of 37 years, Vicki (Babbitt), his son Jeffrey Berner, his daughter Jodi (Briant) Daniel, grandchildren Benjamin (Alyssa) Berner, Jason (Emily) Wyman, and Nichole (Brian) Vane, as well as seven great-grandchildren. Bill’s life was dedicated to his wife and family. He was loving, funny, intelligent, generous, kind, accepting, and often a bit mischievous. His family was his pride and joy. In accordance with Bill’s wishes, cremation has taken place. Donations may go to the West Michigan Cancer Center. Visit his page at

June Bobish, 103, Schoolcraft, passed away June 19. June was one of four children, including her sister Margaret and brothers Forrest and John. Until June’s passing, she was the oldest living graduate of Vicksburg High School. After graduation, June went to cosmetology school in Grand Rapids. Upon graduation, she returned to Vicksburg to open her own beauty shop on Main Street. The Beauty Shop was open for 58 years. June married Tony Bobish at the age of 39. They were married 60 years before Tony passed away at the age of 106 years old in 2015. They lived together in the home Tony built until relocating to Gaylord. June turned 103 on June 18 of this year. She is survived by many nieces and nephews who loved her dearly. Visit her page at Donations may go to Hospice of Michigan. The family is being assisted by the McCowen & Secord Funeral Home, Rupert-Durham Chapel, Vicksburg.

Dennis (“Louie”) Layne Eberstein, 62, Schoolcraft, passed away July 30. He was born July 17, 1957 in Vicksburg to the late Robert and Barbara (Kline) Eberstein. Louie graduated from Schoolcraft High School, and after a year in California, returned home to Schoolcraft. Louie spent his time building a dedicated circle of friends and helping out those close to him. He also enjoyed riding his motorcycle, especially in the mountains of West Virginia. Marrying late in life, Louie adored and was dedicated and committed to his wife of 6 ½ years, Laura. Louie is survived by his wife, Laura Eberstein; and brother Mike (Jeanne) Eberstein. Following Louie’s wishes, he will be cremated and a celebration of life will be held at a later date. Donations may go to St. Jude Hospital for support of families and research; West Michigan cancer center to support research, or Schoolcraft’s Historical Society for operation and maintenance of the Underground Railroad House.

Bonnie Sue Gose, 83, East Leroy, passed away August 19. She was born on January 13, 1936 to Leonard and Grace (Williams) Davis. Cooking was a big part of Bonnie’s life; she was a wonderful cook. Nurturing was in Bonnie’s nature through her unconditional love. Bonnie is survived by her children, Rick (Vonda) Gose of Luther, Sandy (Ray) Smith of East Leroy, and Bob (Carol) Gose of Vicksburg; 13 grandchildren and numerous great-grandchildren. She is also survived by her siblings, Peggy (Charles) Sams of Marcellus and Mike (Linda) Davis of Indiana. Bonnie was preceded in death by her husband, Dale; daughter, Sarah Blankenship; siblings Bill Davis, Tom Davis, Noami McGill and twin siblings that passed at birth. Visit her page at Donations may go to Alzheimer’s Research.

Irene Green, 92, Vicksburg, passed away August 19. Irene was born on October 4, 1926 to Delbert and Mary (Bush) Burr. Irene’s family includes her daughter, Janet Green (Robert Poats); her sister-in-law, Doris Burr, as well as several nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her husband of 53 years, Merle, her son, Owen Green, siblings David, Pauline Miller, Merle and Stanley Burr. She was also preceded by a special companion of eight years, Ralph Ramlow. Irene started her working career as a truck driver for D&E Weiandt in 1958, becoming the first woman to join Teamsters Local No. 7. She retired in 1983 to travel in her Ford Model T’s. Those travels took her in 1984 from New York to Seattle on the 75th Anniversary Ford Rerun Tour and in 1987 from Texas to Alaska, a Model T adventure covering 10,500 miles. She was a member of the Model T Ford Club International, local chapter Tin Lizzie Travelers, Model T Ford Club of America and a member of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Three Rivers. Visit her page at Donations may go to Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan or St. Peter’s Lutheran Church.

Joyce D. Green, 86, Vicksburg, went to be with her Lord August 13 at Park Village Pines, Kalamazoo. She was born May 27, 1933 to the late James Roelofs and Dena Holthouse. Joyce married Robert Green on June 16, 1951. Settling in Vicksburg, they were together for 65 years. Joyce was a librarian at the Vicksburg District Library, retiring in 1991 and a member of the Victorian Garden Club. She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Robert; and her son, Michael James. Joyce is survived by her daughter, Cindy Hammond and her husband, Scott; son David Green and his wife, Amy; grandsons Jacob, Benjamin, and Noah; and numerous nieces, nephews, and friends. Donations may go to Generous Hands, Inc. or Lakeland Reformed Church.

Stuart Todd Hayner, passed from this earth July 2, embraced by family. Todd, born June 9, 1967 was curious over his entire life about the universe and metaphysics, keeping his parents, Clarence Hadley II and Rosemary Hadley, bewildered. Todd worked at Stewart Sutherland for years. It was during this time that he used his name, Stuart. Stuart owned and operated Selective Tree Service. He is survived by Judy Lee Hayner; his mother, Rosemary Hadley; his beautiful daughters, Brittany (Ryan) Bleeker and Emily Hayner; siblings Jason Hadley, Larry Davis, Leslie Gunderson, Kyle and James Hayner and Jennifer Bradley; stepchildren Jerry and Erica Root; grandsons Ryan and Eli Bleeker and JP Root; nieces and nephews, Alexis and Jaden Gunderson, Paige, Kyle, Lacey and Ella Hadley and Jake Davis. A potluck to celebrate his life and share memories will take place on Saturday September 21st at 3:00 PM at  906 Vicker Street, Vicksburg.

Robert “Bob” Hildebrand, 80, Vicksburg, passed away July 31. He was born to Rollin and Bessie Hildebrand on October 30, 1938. Bob attended Vicksburg schools and became a professional mason. He always had an impeccable yard that was the envy of the neighborhood. He built a pond in his backyard and spent a significant amount of time tending to his meticulous flowerbeds as well as cleaning the pond. Outside of his work, he was a professional fisherman, winning many tournaments over the past several years. Popular among the competitive fishing industry, he traveled the country to fish. Bob is survived by his wife of 61 years, Joyce; their son, Rick Hildebrand of Vicksburg; granddaughters Jodie (Chad) Ostertag of Portage and Jessica (Jim) Cutshaw of Vicksburg; great-grandchildren Kyllie Zeller, Jim Cutshaw, and Aaden Ostertag. He is also survived by siblings Ron (Marylou) Hildebrand of Vicksburg; Virginia Bogema of Schoolcraft; Ruth Fritz of Pennsylvania; and Margaret (Dick) Fifer of Scotts. He was preceded in death by his brother, Howard Hildebrand. Visit his page at Donations may go to Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan.

Bruce P. Loker, 89, Vicksburg, died Aug. 21, following a long illness. He was born in Fulton on March 21, 1930, the son of Perry C. and Marian (Vance) Loker. He graduated from Athens High School and served in the U.S. Army for two years as a military policeman. Bruce was married to Dolores Denny on Feb. 25, 1955. Together they raised their children and operated a dairy farm near Fulton. Bruce was a pilot and enjoyed flying his Cessna. He attended the Factoryville Bible Church. Bruce is survived by his wife, Dolores Loker; children Rodney (Roseann) Loker of Vicksburg, Raymond (Tracie) Loker of Fulton, Perry (Cheryl) Loker of Vicksburg, Penny (Matthew) Mills of Belton, Mo., and Dawn (Randy) Adams of Raymore, Mo.; 23 grandchildren; 41 great-grandchildren; a brother, Max (Elaine) Loker; sisters Margaret (Francis) West and Vera Boyer; a sister in law, Beatrice Loker; and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; a son, Royce; granddaughter, Jenny; and brother, Dale. Donations may go to Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan. Visit his page at

Corey A. Theobald, 33, Schoolcraft, passed away July 30. Corey was born January 12, 1986 in Kalamazoo, a son of Peter and Judith (Oswalt) Theobald. He was a lifelong Kalamazoo area resident and was employed with Harding’s several years ago. Corey is survived by his parents; a brother, Kyle Theobald; and several grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Donations may go to Twelve Baskets Food Pantry. Visit his page at

Vivian Elizabeth Blevins Watz, 95, died peacefully July 29 at the Heritage Community Nursing Home in Kalamazoo. Vivian was born on July 19, 1924, in Detroit, the daughter of William and Vivian Duke. World War II took her husband Marty Watz overseas for three years and while he was gone, Vivian wrote faithfully to her husband every day. During the war, she worked third shift at a factory inspecting shells for the war effort. When Marty came home, they bought a home in Harper Woods, where they lived for the next 45 years, raising four children. Vivian worked as a telephone operator for many years. After Marty died in 2010, Vivian moved to Spring Manor Apartments in Portage. Vivian is survived by her children, Diane Watz-Frisinger, Martin, Jr. (Sandra), Janet Glaes (Charles) and Steven (RoseAnn); grandchildren, Joshua Frisinger, Melissa Heimbough (Hayes), Jonathan Glaes (Jessica), Tyler Glaes, Natalie Glaes, Steven Watz, and Alexandra Watz; and great-grandchildren Sophia Frisinger, Hunter Glaes, Mason Glaes, and Gabriella Glaes. Visit her page at Donations may go to Generous Hands, Alzheimer’s Association or the Vicksburg Community Schools Foundation.


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 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 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


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 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 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 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

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 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


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

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

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 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 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

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

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

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 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 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

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

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

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 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 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.