Duane A. Avard passed away August 5, 2023. He was born April 30, 1933, to Harold and Ethel Avard. Educated at Kalamazoo Central, he embodied a commitment to learning that would extend beyond the classroom. On June 12, 1953, he married Betty June Brosseau, embarking on a journey of shared dreams and enduring companionship. Duane’s professional path led him to Durametallic, where he worked until retirement. Duane and June had a shared passion for horses, eventually acquiring a farm in Texas Township. There they also raised polled Hereford cattle. They enjoyed traveling to Florida, especially Pine Island. Duane is survived by his wife, June Avard; daughters Pam (Brian) Hannar and Sherry Logan; and his brothers, David and Louis Avard. He will be remembered for his love of family, steadfastness in the face of challenges, and his unyielding spirit. Visit his page at

Martha Irene Bowen, 83, Vicksburg, passed away July 28, 2023. She was born November 6, 1939 in Pontiac, to Albert Norman and Martha Elizabeth Hawkins. Martha graduated from Spring Arbor High School in 1957. She married William David Bowen on August 24 of that year. They raised their four children in Midland. After starting a family, Martha attended Delta College and received an associate degree in interior design. She primarily was a homemaker but worked as a seamstress and interior designer for a few years. Martha enjoyed gardening, baking, sewing, and playing games. She enjoyed hosting tea parties with her grandchildren. Martha was an active member of the Nazarene Church, first at Midland Community and most recently of Chapman Memorial. Martha had a kind and generous spirit. Martha was preceded in her passing by her husband, William (Bill) Bowen, daughter Yvonne Biggar and daughter-in-law Kristin Bowen. She is survived by her children, son-in-law Jonathan Biggar; Debra and Steven Reader, William A. Bowen, and Yalonda and J. Mitchell Combs; grandchildren Rebecca (Nick), Allison (Rob), Gretchen (Andrew), Sara (Mike), Adam (Shayna), Jack Renee, Mandy, Emily (Connor), Abigail (Michael), Tim, Jake, and Miguella; and 13 great-grandchildren with the 14th expected in October 2023. Services have been held. Memorials made in Martha’s memory may be directed to Chapman Memorial Church of the Nazarene, The Gideons International, or Indian Lake Nazarene Camp. Visit her page at

Evelyn Ann Brockway, 84, formerly of Vicksburg, passed away peacefully on August 17, 2023. She was born May 13, 1939, in Valparaiso, Indiana, to LeRoy and Margaret (Wayne) Manning. She attended Valparaiso High School and moved to Kalamazoo in 1968, where she met and married Carlton Brockway. They raised their family in Vicksburg and resided there for the next 47 years. Evelyn led Vicksburg Athletic Boosters’ bingo for 44 years, raising several million dollars during that time. Evelyn was inducted into the Vicksburg Athletic Hall of Fame in 1990, and the Boosters now name their annual scholarships after her. In 2014, Vicksburg Community Schools named the girls varsity softball field the “Evelyn Brockway Softball Complex.” Evelyn was preceded in death by her husband, Carlton, and is survived by her children, John (Vicki) Holmes, Rick (Jennie) Holmes, Carla Brockway; grandchildren John, Katrina, Aaron, Christopher, Olivia, Rachel, Joshua, Alex; and great-great grandchildren Kadence, Eti and Enoka. Visit her page at Donations may go to the Vicksburg Athletic Boosters at

James Randel Dean, 82, Schoolcraft, passed away peacefully with family and friends at his side August 1, 2023, at Kairos Dwelling in Kalamazoo. James was born to Leslie and Alice Mae (Burson) Dean on the family farm in Portage, in April 1941. He attended Portage High School and was the senior class president, keeping the Mustang “59ers” connected over the years. He graduated from Ferris State University and was in the Lambda Chi fraternity. James married Diana Lou Williams on November 30, 1963. For 32 years, Jim proudly guided the student dining services at WMU. He was a member of Schoolcraft United Methodist Church, Schoolcraft school board, NACUFS, Portage Central Alumni Association, Kairos Dwelling board, Schoolcraft Historical Society and Friendship Force. Jim volunteered as head cook for the Schoolcraft 7th grade camp. He took pleasure in cookbooks, antiques, travel, gardening, friends, and family. He is survived by his children, Gregory (Kayla) and Karen (Pete); grandchildren Alison, Connor, Molly and Brenna; siblings Millicent Zentz and Duane; and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his wife Diana, his brother Newell (Ruth) Dean; brother-in-law Ron Zentz; and sister-in-law Sherri Dean. Visit his page at Donations may go to Kairos Dwelling and Portage Central Alumni Association.

Patricia Louise Dorrance, 61, Schoolcraft, passed away on August 22, 2023 at Bronson Methodist Hospital. She was born in Kalamazoo on May 5, 1962, the daughter of Kenneth and Patricia (Reddy) Dorrance. Pat attended school in Climax-Scotts and was part of the 1980 graduating class from Mendon High School. After high school she attended Kalamazoo Valley for a couple of years. For over fifteen years, Pat worked at Edwards Garment in Kalamazoo as an office clerk. She was a simple woman who enjoyed the simple things in life. Pat enjoyed being outside, gardening, tending to her flowers, and maintaining her lawn.  She loved animals, especially her dogs.  In her free time, Pat liked to camp, have bonfires, and to gather with her friends with some good music. Most of all, she loved her grandchildren and her family. Pat is survived by her mother, Patricia Imanse; sons Brian (Alissa) Baker of Vicksburg and Jesse Samson of Mendon; grandchildren Addison Baker, Brody Baker, Carson Baker, Grace Samson, and Charlotte Samson; siblings Brian (Carrie) Dorrance of Scotts and Becky (Danny) Watson of Scotts; and many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her father, Kenneth Dorrance, her stepfather, Bruce Imanse, and her sister Wendy Britten. A gathering will take place at a later date. Visit her page at

Evon Marie Fleckenstein, 82, Vicksburg, passed away August 8, 2023. Evon was born on April 1, 1941, in Battle Creek, the daughter of Hubert and Lydia (VanOverloop) Prentice. She graduated from Mattawan High School in 1959. She was a ball girl for the Kalamazoo Lassies, an American Girls Professional Baseball League team in the mid 50’s. She married Paul “Jim” Fleckenstein November 24, 1967. She enjoyed watching Notre Dame football and women’s sports. She was an accomplished league bowler. She enjoyed traveling, casinos, and Elvis. She worked in banking and finance, eventually retiring from Pfizer in 2002. She was preceded in death by her husband, Paul “Jim” Fleckenstein; parents Hubert and Lydia Prentice; and brother, Jack Prentice (Patricia). Evon is survived by her children: Kim (Richard) Jones, Susan (John) Sterling, Brian (Michelle) Fleckenstein, and Cindy (Randy) Howard; grandchildren Trevor Kiel, David (Stormi) Jones, Devin (Dakota) Jones, Abby Lockwood, Dana Lockwood, and Ella Lockwood; and great grandchildren Rhylee and Waylon Jones. She also is survived by brother-in-law, Tom (Marilyn) Fleckenstein, and nieces and nephews, Mark and Jeff Prentice and Cammy and Kevin Fleckenstein. Visit her page at Donations may go to Centrica Care Navigators and SPCA of Southwest Michigan.

Steven Jacob Edwin Giem passed away August 1, 2023. He was born May 29, 2002 in Kalamazoo. He attended Vicksburg Community Schools and was always mechanically inclined. He was self-employed, running his own lawn care service. Steven was an avid outdoorsman and fisherman. He loved the peacefulness of being in nature. Steven is survived by his mother, Nickole Marie Berger of Portage; his dads, Jake “Jason” Kellogg of Three Rivers and Scott Andrew Berger of Portage; grandparents, Kathy Bolton, Stanley and Dawn Bolton, Bonnie and Douglas Kellogg, and Brian and Carol Berger; great-grandmother Margaret “Peg” Giem; aunt Gloria Bolton-Wicks, her husband, Adam, and their daughter Katherine “Kasia” Faye; godparents Jamie and Brian Washburn and their children Vivian, Hazel, and Grayson; his aunt Renee Clark, her husband, Adam and their son Luke; cousins Caleb and Kaleen Redner; great aunt Paulette Hospenthal, and great uncle Gail Makinen; many friends and his very best friend Cameron Pape. Steven was preceded in death by his uncle, William Bolton, grandfather Steven Makinen, grandmother Cheryl “Cheri” Berger, great-grandfathers Seth Giem II and Gary Makinen, great-grandmother Carol Makinen, great uncles Daniel Hospenthal and Ronald Makinen and his beloved dog, Walter. Visit his page at

Madge Eleanor Hollander, 99 years young, passed away August 16, 2023, surrounded by her family. She was born in Detroit on August 2, 1924. She was married to Norman Hollander in 1945 and together they had four children, Sue (Skip) Beaty, Bill (Clare)Hollander, Wayne Hollander, and Lori (Richard) Barnes. She had 7 grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren, and 2 great-great-grandchildren. She remained independent enough to stay active with her weekly bowling, golfing, and the Portage Senior Center Needlers. She never stopped making new friends. A celebration of her life will be held on September 16 from 2-4 p.m. at the Vicksburg Community Center. Donations may go to St. Jude Children’s Hospital in her memory.

Mark Eugene Klein, 70, Mendon, died August 8, 2023, at Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo. He was born in Three Rivers September 8, 1952 to Vincent Eugene Klein and Henrietta (Pleuster) Klein. He graduated from Colon High School in 1970. He worked at Simpson Paper Company for 31 1/2 years before its closing as Fox River Paper. He then worked at I.A.C. in Mendon. Mark was a lifetime member of St. Edward Catholic Church. He enjoyed travels across the country with his family. He was a fan of the Tigers, Lions, Notre Dame, and old TV shows. Mark was married to Paula Vreeland on June 15, 1974 at St. Edward. She survives along with children Marty Klein, Stephanie (Cesar) Colette, Michelle (Steve) Allison, Matthew Klein, and Cindy (Jesse) King; grandchildren Lucas Colette, Dierks King, and Austin King; a few grand fur babies; siblings Mary Klein, Tom (Margie) Klein, Jane (Barry) VanderVeen, Gary (Sandy) Klein, Diane (David) Snyder, Bonnie Moser, Carol Mack, David Klein, Anthony (Patty) Klein, and Barbara (Wayne) Dale; mother-in-law Martha Vreeland and sister-in-law Tangileen Klein. Mark was preceded in death by his parents, Vincent E. and Henrietta; brothers Roger and Vincent B. Klein; sister Jean Marie Klein; brothers-in-law John Mack and Byron Moser; and grand-niece Judy Klein. Donations may go to St. Edward Catholic Church. Visit his page at

Joel MacLean Smola lost his long, brave battle with common variable immune deficiency (CVID) on August 2, 2023, at U of M Hospital, surrounded by family and friends. Born in Kalamazoo on April 16, 1992, Joel was the second of five siblings. He graduated from Mattawan High School in 2010, where he played band, tennis, and bowling. He was the #1 singles player in tennis during his senior year, earning the coveted MVP title for two consecutive years. He coached tennis in Paw Paw, sharing his enthusiasm and knowledge. He belonged to the Vicksburg United Methodist Church where he played drums in the praise band, engaged with the youth group, and was a counselor at Wesley Woods Church Camp. He had a fascination with fireworks and put on a spectacular show every 4th of July. He immersed himself in trading card games like Magic and Yu-Gi-Oh! Joel worked as a cook at Latitude 42 and attended KVCC. Joel is survived by his parents, Jim and Joan Smola, siblings Alan (Annalisa) Smola, William Smola, Scott Smola, and Meredith Smola, and grandmother, Barbara Hosner. He was preceded in death by his grandfather, Albert Hosner, grandparents Ed and Dorothy Smola, and his cousin, Charlie Smola. Donations may go to Immune Deficiency Foundation, Vicksburg United Methodist Church, or the family by following the link Visit his page at

Joyce Elizabeth Steeby, 90, formerly of Schoolcraft, passed away August 4, 2023, at Rest Haven Care Center in Holland after losing her battle with Alzheimer’s. She was born July 5, 1933, in Kalamazoo to Romeo and Anna (Cooley) Frey. She attended Schoolcraft Schools and earned her education degree at WMU. She married Gary Steeby in 1956. She was a founding member of the Schoolcraft Historical Society and a member of the Schoolcraft Ladies Library Association. She was a substitute teacher and earned a real estate license. Joyce was key to the creation and support of the Gary Steeby Memorial Tennis Program. She attended Calvary Bible Church until she moved to Holland. Joyce was preceded in death by her parents; husband Gary Allen Steeby; daughter Julie Ann Steeby; sister and brother-in-law Esther and Darrell Brush; brother and sister-in-law Paul and Nancy Frey; and sister-in-law Sandra (David) Frey. She is survived by her children, Jon (Julie) Steeby, Mark (Nadia) Steeby, and Jennifer (John) Ruiter; grandchildren Jillian (Jimi) Russell, Justin (Sarah) Steeby, Ashton and Jacob Steeby, and Peter, Luke, and Elizabeth Ruiter; great-grandchildren Ellis, Ford, Owen, and Ava; brother David Frey; sister Phyllis Frey; as well as several nieces and nephews. Donations may go to Calvary Bible Memorial Fund, Schoolcraft Community Library, or Hospice of Holland. Visit her page at


Garry Allan Briggs, 74, Vicksburg, passed away July 14, 2023. Garry was born February 21, 1949 in Kalamazoo, the son of Oliver and Jessie (Evans) Briggs. Garry attended Vicksburg schools until he left to serve in the U.S. Army. He finished his schooling after the war. He served from 1966 to 1969, earning a Vietnam Service medal with two Bronze Stars and National Defense Service Medal. He also earned a Vietnam Campaign Medal. When he returned home, he began a career in construction and maintenance. Garry loved his family and was very patriotic. Garry was preceded in death by his parents, Oliver and Jessie Briggs and brothers Larry and Ronnie Briggs. He is survived by his children, Garry (Koni) Briggs of Florida, Nicolle Lewis of Portage, Jamie Briggs of Portage, George Briggs and Jody Briggs of Portage; grandchildren Cody (Samantha) Briggs, Skylar Lewis, Emily Lewis, and Kaylee Polley; great-grandchildren Olive Briggs, Finnley Briggs, Theodore Briggs, and Kyle Deutscher, Jr. He is also survived by siblings Henry Eugene Briggs of Scotts, Connie Habdas of Grand Blanc, Virgil Briggs of Vicksburg, and Diana Martens of Vicksburg; sister-in-law Evelyn Briggs of Mendon, and numerous nieces and nephews. Garry has been cremated and will be buried with military honors at Fort Custer National Cemetery on Friday, August 4, 2023, at 2:30 p.m. Visit his page at

James Russell Cline, Portage, formerly of Schoolcraft, passed away June 22, 2023. Jim was born March 26, 1927, in Hartford City, Indiana to Harold Francis and Thelma Liona (Sample) Cline. Jim, a WWII veteran, had a long, wonderful life. He was preceded in death by his wife of 60 years, Barbara Ann Cline and an infant son, Joey Allen Cline. Jim is survived by children Debbie (Cline-Henderson-Bowman) and Randy Schippers of Three Rivers and Scott and Pat Cline of Schoolcraft; grandchildren David and Beth Henderson of Bristol, Indiana, Jennifer (Cline) and Greg Cabrera of Naperville, Illinois, Jessica (Cline) and Chris Izzi of Plymouth, Michigan, Joseph and Candice Cline of Orchard Lake, Michigan and Elizabeth (Bowman) and Chad Wright of Allegan; and great-grandchildren Michael, Matthew and Maya Izzi, Carter, Cole, Emerson and Anderson Cline, and Addison (Little Jim) Cabrera. A visitation and a memorial service will be held at the New Apostolic Church of Portage on August 9, with an 11 a.m. visitation and a noon service. Burial will take place at Fort Custer National Cemetery on August 9 at 3 p.m. Donations may go to the New Apostolic Church of Portage, Hospice Centrica or MediLodge of Portage. Visit his page at

Larry James Cole passed away July 9, 2023 at the age of 82, at Rose Arbor in Kalamazoo. Larry was born in Schoolcraft November 3, 1940, the son of Curtis and Mary (Sisson) Cole. He graduated from Schoolcraft High School with the class of 1958, where he played basketball, winning three districts and one regional championship. He married Mary Tobin in 1960. Together they had three children, Dawnn (Dean) Cole Decker; Michele (Robert) Cole Johnson; Curtis (Maxine Belino) Cole; 11 grandchildren and three great grandchildren with a fourth on the way. Larry graduated from WMU in 1962 with a bachelor’s degree in biology, geography, and physical education and began teaching at Rogers High School. Larry completed his master’s degree from MSU in 1966, returned to Schoolcraft, and served as the junior and senior high school principal and then superintendent. After earning another degree at WMU in 1974 as an education specialist, the family moved to Vicksburg where he served as superintendent. Larry was also a realtor and real estate developer, a member of the Schoolcraft Masonic Lodge 118 and the Vicksburg Rotary Club, and Schoolcraft High School Hall of Fame inductee. Above all else, Larry loved his family. Visit his page at Donations may go to the Vicksburg Community Schools Foundation.

Dennis R. Devito of Kalamazoo passed away July 9, 2023. Dennis was born June 16, 1954, in Kalamazoo, the son of Richard and Eleanor (Ruse) DeVito. He was a selfless man that put everyone before himself. His love language was putting a smile on anyone’s face, and he would go out of his way to help someone even if they didn’t know they needed his help. He never met a stranger and was able to talk about any random topic. He enjoyed spending time with family, whether it was watching his grandsons play sports or out fishing on the dock. He enjoyed hunting, riding quads up north, attending car shows, and going for boat rides. On May 28, 1977, he was united in marriage to his loving wife, Paula “Kay” (Bishop) who preceded him in death on August 3, 2018. He was also preceded in death by his parents. Dennis is survived by his children, Nick (Sandy) DeVito and Elizabeth (Jake) Bronson; grandchildren Louis and Salvatore DeVito; sister, Tina (Steve) Terry; and many nieces and nephews. Donations may go to the Borgess Heart Institute or the West Michigan Cancer Center. Visit his page at

Carol Lynn Graves of Schoolcraft was born August 23 1959, in Alma, Michigan. She graduated from Portage Central in 1977 and enjoyed many summers in Canada with her family. She had a passion for helping animals, always taking in and raising squirrels, baby birds, anything that needed love and attention. She also enjoyed ghost hunting and even enjoyed a trip to Mansfield Reformatory where they filmed Shawshank Redemption. Carol worked at Pullam/Noble processing, where she made car parts and became a supervisor. She traveled to Mexico where she helped the company and enjoyed relaxing in the sun. Until her sudden passing on July 15, 2023, Carol cared for her mother. Carol was preceded in death by her father Frank Wallace, son Chad Franks, and her two fur babies, Keebler and Fudge. Carol leaves behind many loving friends and family: her mother Marleen Wallace; son Josh Sager; daughters Lacey Sager and Lijana Halstead; grandchildren Colin Sager, Amelia Sager, Blake Sager, Emma Fanning, Nellie Halstead, Jude Halstead, Audrey Halstead, and Jack Halstead; brothers Robert Wallace and Brad Wallace; and several cousins. Donations may go to or the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan. Visit her page at

Cynthia “Cindy” Mae Hufford, 64, Schoolcraft, peacefully passed away June 24, 2023. She was born April 29, 1959 in Vicksburg to Gordon and Nancy (Crago) Bozell. Cindy graduated from Portage Central High School in 1977. She enjoyed cruising Westnedge in her red, silver-striped 1977 Camaro, where she met her husband, Dale Hufford. They married April 1, 1989. She found her life’s work in motherhood. She was an avid Raiders and U. of M. football fan. Her family’s main passion is stock car racing, and she attended their events with her bright orange blanket, video camera, and homemade popcorn. She was preceded in death by her father, Gordon Bozell, and her maternal and paternal grandparents. She is survived by her husband, Dale Hufford; children Allison (Matthew) Bainbridge of Marcellus, Tyler (Kaylee) Hufford of Vicksburg, and Ryan Hufford of Schoolcraft; grandson Oliver Bainbridge; mother Nancy (Crago) Bozell; sister Katie (Danny) Foote; brothers Andy (Debbie) Bozell and Jeff (Stephanie) Bozell; sister-in-law Sara Slack; brothers-in-law Paul Hufford, and Wayne Hufford; and several aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and friends. Visit her page at Donations can be made to Centrica Rose Arbor Place of Kalamazoo or City of Hope cancer treatment centers.

Todd Michael Kelly of Plymouth, Indiana, formerly of Vicksburg, died at home May 24, 2023, of sudden cardiac arrest. Todd was born to Allen and Patrecia Kelly March 7, 1962 in Kalamazoo. Todd graduated from Vicksburg High School, Taylor University, and Western Michigan University, where he received his master’s degree in social work. He married Jennifer Marie Davis on April 2, 1988. He was a social worker at South Bend Schools, Lifeline Youth and Family Services, White’s Residential and Family Services, Specialized Alternatives for Families and Youth (SAFY), and was currently employed at Elkhart Community Schools. He was an elder at Crossroads Evangelical Free Church for many years. He was passionate about raising belted Galloway cows at their home, Whippletree Farm, west of Plymouth, Indiana. Todd was a man of integrity, compassion, and had a great sense of humor. Todd and Jennie opened their home to many people over the years. Todd is remembered by his beloved wife of 35 years, Jennie; children Audrey (Eric), Caleb (Lauren), Eliza and Claudia; grandchildren Miriam and Michael Clark, and Kara and Natalie Kelly; mother Patrecia Kelly; siblings Scott (Sheril) Kelly and Kathy (Brad) Belcher; and numerous nieces, nephews and many who regarded him as their father figure. He is predeceased by his father Allen Kelly and his dear friend, Bob Read. Donations may be go to Coldwater Foundation. Visit his page at

Barbara June Kline, 96, Schoolcraft, passed away peacefully on April 16, 2023. June was born on June 6, 1926, in Schoolcraft, to Alvin C. Forsyth and Helen K. (Harrison) Forsyth. Growing up in a farming family just outside of Schoolcraft, June developed a strong work ethic and a deep appreciation for the simple pleasures of life. On November 28, 1945, June married Eugene H. Kline. June and Eugene were blessed with three children: Ray (Cindy) Kline of Sturgis, Barbara Savage of Ithaca, and Scott (Vickie) Kline of Burr Oak. June’s love extended to her grandchildren, Shane Kline, Rinea (Dave) Peterson, Kyle (Emily) Kline, Chasity (Ben Girard) Savage, Brandon Kline, Emily Kline, and Andrew Kline. She adored her great-grandchildren. June was a pillar of support for her family and actively participated in various community activities. After her husband’s passing, June moved back to Schoolcraft, where she worked at the Schoolcraft Bank and Norma’s Antiques, sharing her passion for unique treasures with others. She enjoyed indulging in crafts, tending her garden, quilting, attending auctions, and tracing her family’s genealogy alongside her sisters, Marilyn Fuller and Beverly Parsons. Donations may be made in June’s memory to Transitions Hospice. Visit her page at

Roger A. Kniss, 75, Schoolcraft, passed away June 25, 2023. Roger was born October 8, 1947 in Kalamazoo, the son of Edwin and Jeanette (Klosterman) Kniss. He graduated from Delton-Kellogg High School in 1966. He joined the United States Air Force and served from 1966 until 1970, earning the rank of sergeant. When he returned, he married Vera Marie (Smith) Kniss on June 21, 1971. For over 30 years he worked for Lear in Mendon. He was a baseball umpire for many years. Roger was a member of the American Legion Post 475 in Schoolcraft and was a past commander. He was also a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Schoolcraft and the Fraternal Order of Eagles #2303 in Three Rivers. Roger was preceded in death by his wife, Vera; son Roger A. Kniss, Jr; brother Dan Kniss; sisters Barb Hudson and Gail Aldridge and son-in-law Mark Barnebee. He is survived by his children, Tina Griffith of Vicksburg, Dawn Barnebee of Vicksburg, Edith Adams of Texas, Robin Major of Vicksburg, and James Tyler of Illinois; grandchildren Earl (Sara) Holbrook, Michanna Holbrook, Ashley Barnebee, Laura (Eric) Adams, Nicole (Kareem) Price, Bobby (Heather) Adams, Arden Major, Larissa Major, and Colt Tyler; and 18 great grandchildren. He is also survived by his brother, Donald Kniss; Laraine (Ron) Whiteaker and brother-in-law Jim Hudson; several nieces and nephews; and his special friend, Janet Bresson. Services have been held. Visit his page at Donations may go to Generous Hands.

Tamita R. Lee, 59, went suddenly to be with the Lord June 19, 2023, at her home. Tami was born December 5, 1963, the eighth and youngest child of Donald Bladen and Wayva (King) Bladen in Marion, Indiana. Tami and her family moved to Vicksburg when she was quite young. She attended Vicksburg Community Schools, graduating in 1983. She briefly attended God’s Bible School and College in Cincinnati, Ohio. She worked at McDonald’s in Schoolcraft where she remained as a crew member for 15 years. She married Richard Lee in the summer of 2006. She enjoyed reading and was artistic. Most recently, she and Richard were part of “Don’s Crew” bowling team at Airway Lanes. She worshipped at the Christian Pilgrim Church in Vicksburg. She is survived by her husband, Richard Lee; son Arman Bladen of Vicksburg; siblings Paul (Barb) Bladen of Ottawa, Illinois, Ken (Beverly) Bladen of Cedar Springs, Michigan, Jeffery (Cindy) Bladen of Indianapolis, LaDonna (Phil) Brunow of Vicksburg, Stefan (Sallie) Bladen of Kalamazoo, and Lydia (Rob) Raines of New Castle, Indiana; mother-in-law and sisters in law; and several nieces and nephews as well as great nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents, Donald and Wayva Bladen, and oldest sister Tonya Bladen. Visit her page at

Rhonda Lynn Lyons, 58, Kalamazoo, formerly of Vicksburg, passed away peacefully on July 7, 2023, in her parents’ Vicksburg home. She was born April 18, 1965, on Easter Day to Eugene and Carolyn Lyons. After graduating from Vicksburg High School, Michigan State University, and the Landscape Architecture Overseas Study Program at Gloucestershire University in Gloucester, UK, she traveled to many European countries. Rhonda was a talented landscape designer and worked with local landscape companies and Greensward in Byron Center. She then developed her own design business. Rhonda was a researcher and arranger and loved the great outdoors, travel, hiking, and bicycling. She was a member of the Church at Queen Valley, Arizona. She is survived by her parents, Eugene and Carolyn Lyons; sister, Lorene Lyons Taylor (Scott) and brother Jason E. Lyons; daughter Adisyn Liby Lyons-Chipman; nephews and nieces Hayden Taylor, Forest Taylor (Kristin), Chantal Taylor (Ryan Smith), Dr. Heath Taylor, DC, Anya Lyons, and Brecken Lyons; and several aunts and uncles and cousins. She was preceded in death by sister-in-law Dr. Cerissa Lyons, DDS. Memorials may be sent for Adisyn Lyons’ college education. Rhonda was cared for by Centrica Care Navigators Hospice. Visit her page at

Faith Christine Rowe, 84, Kalamazoo, passed away July 8, 2023 at home. Faith was born June 21, 1939 in Kalamazoo, the daughter of William and Rosabelle (Tripp) Van Bommel. She was a graduate of Comstock High School and after completing nursing training, Faith worked for Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital, Battle Creek VA Hospital and then the Gilmore Substance Abuse Clinic. She enjoyed silk ribbon embroidery, birdwatching, hand sewing cards, crafts, drawing and cooking. She was a member of Haven Church in Kalamazoo. She enjoyed her family and traveling. Surviving are her children, Renee Dalton of Cadillac, Scott (Mary) Rowe of Fulton, and Eric Rowe of Kalamazoo; granddaughters Amanda and Kerrie; great-granddaughters Savanah and Kaylee; sisters Carolyn Bailey and Emily (Larry) Barr; and a loving church family and dear friends. She was preceded in death by a granddaughter, Jennifer; sister, Marsha Tiffany; nieces Julia and Shenna; and nephew Steven. Donations may go to Villalobos Rescue Center (Pit Bulls and Parolees) or ASPCA. Visit her page at

Frances Arlene Snyder, 88, Vicksburg, died July 14, 2023 at Stone Ridge Adult Foster Care near Bellevue, Michigan. She was born in Kalamazoo July 19, 1934, the daughter of Bliss and M. Arlene (Moore) Sherman and was a lifetime resident of the area. She graduated from Vicksburg High School with the class of 1952. Frances was married to Norman D. Snyder in Kalamazoo in 2001. Norman passed away in 2019. Frances enjoyed talking with people. She had a remarkable memory of family history and events that occurred while she was growing up near Fulton. Although bedridden for many years in her Kalamazoo home, and later at her stay with Stone Ridge AFC, she stayed in contact with friends by phone and personal notes. Once a friend, always a friend seemed to be the rule in Frances’ life. Frances is survived by a son, Bryant Meacham; sisters Darlene Denney and Heather Hill; brothers Gary Sherman and Terry (Kitty) Sherman; brother-in-law Harvey Snyder; and nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents; son Keith Meacham; sister-in-law Gwen Sherman; and brothers-in-law Pete Denney and Thomas Hill. The family will receive friends for a time of sharing on Saturday, August 5, 2023, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Eickhoff Funeral Home in Mendon. Visit her page at

Bradley John VandenAkker passed away unexpectedly at his home July 14, 2023. Brad was born January 3, 1981 to Lisa J VandenAkker. He graduated from Schoolcraft Community Schools in 2000. He enjoyed creating art, but his passion was in athletics, playing football, basketball, baseball, and running track and field. He was co-captain of his football, basketball and track teams. Brad married Melinda L (Douglas) VandenAkker on July 12, 2003. They celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary together just days before his passing. Brad enjoyed spending time with his family, and any activity that brought his family together made him happy and brought him joy. Brad leaves behind his wife, Melinda (Douglas) VandenAkker; sons Trent Bradley and Nolan Jeffrey VandenAkker; mother, Lisa VandenAkker; brother, Michael Melching; grandmother Shirley VandenAkker; aunt Julie VandenAkker-Arney; cousins Alexander (AJ) and Matthew Arney; mother-in-law Terri Douglas-Wheat; and many brothers and sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews, and extended family and friends. Brad was preceded in death by his sister, Amber Marie Melching, grandfather John A VandenAkker, and father-in-law Jeffrey S Douglas. Visit his page at Donations may go to the American Heart Association in Bradley’s memory.

Brian James Willoughby died peacefully and unexpectedly July 15, 2023 at his Vicksburg home. He had a kind and gentle spirit and his own brand of humor. He enjoyed spending time with his wife and children and felt much pride in all their accomplishments. He enjoyed watching sports, especially the Rams, Cardinals, and NASCAR. He liked reading history, watching movies, and playing Risk. Brian worked for over 25 years in the movie theater industry in Battle Creek, Kalamazoo, and Three Rivers. Brian was a graduate of Kalamazoo Central High School in 1985. He attended Adrian College, then received his bachelor’s degree from Western Michigan University. On October 28, 2000, Brian married Stephanie (Smith) Willoughby, who survives. He is also survived by their children, Benjamin, Samuel, and Erin; father James (Deborah Search) Willoughby; sister Debora (Richard) Karnemaat; brothers, Scott (Yulia) Willoughby and Mark (Tina Newhauser) Willoughby; Stephanie’s parents, Susan and Eric Smith; brother-in-law, David Smith; nephews Ryan, Nathan, Zack, Sean; and nieces Sofia and Maddy. Brian was preceded in death by his mother, Marquita Willoughby, and stepsister Elizabeth Kordella. Donations may go to an education fund for the children, the Big Red Machine marching band or to the Kalamazoo Nature Center. Visit his page at


Ricardo Escamilla, Idlewild, Michigan, formerly of Vicksburg, passed away on April 26, 2023. Ricardo was born on April 11, 1960, the son of Jose and Jesusa Escamilla. He attended Vicksburg Community Schools and graduated with the class of 1978. He moved south to work in the oil industry, and when he returned to Kalamazoo, he started in residential roofing, working himself to lead roofing contractor until his retirement. Ricardo was married to Deb Bauer for over 25 years. They had three children: Jose, Louren, and Carlos. He was very family oriented and cherished his time with his children. In retirement, he settled in Idlewild. He was preceded in death by his parents; baby sister Elena; and brothers-in-law Thomas Kelley and Ramah Shearer. Ricardo is survived by his children, Jose of Kalamazoo, Louren of San Diego, Calif., and Carlos of Kalamazoo; siblings Victoria Kelley of Three Rivers, Maria Lydia (Muhammed) Ali of Portage, Esequiel Escamilla of Kalamazoo, Jose Escamilla Jr. of Benton Harbor, Estella Shearer of Vicksburg, Adalia (Dan) Martin of Schoolcraft, Teresa (Rudy) Ruelas of Traverse City, Jesus Escamilla of Oklahoma, Alejandro Escamilla of Chicago and Adolfo (Marie) Escamilla of Portage. He is also survived by his former wife, Deb and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins. A Mass of Christian burial will be held on Saturday, July 8, 2023 at 11 a.m. at St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church, 5855 East W Ave, Vicksburg. The family will receive friends at the church one hour prior to the service beginning at 10 a.m. Visit Ricardo’s page at Donations may go to St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church. Assistance provided by the Avink, McCowen & Secord Funeral Home and Cremation Society.

Howard A. Gragg, 86, Mendon, died June 13, 2023 at his home. He was born in Kalamazoo on October 26, 1936, the son of the late Archie and Doris (Olmstead) Gragg. He attended Richland Public Schools. The family moved to Ohio his senior year, and he graduated from Bexley High School. He served in the U.S. Air Force from 1954 to 1958. He married Mary Lou Hobbs on May 11, 1957 in Marked Tree, Arkansas. They settled in Vicksburg, where he owned and operated Howard’s Auto Repair for many years. After retirement, he worked briefly at Bob’s Auto Repair in Mendon. Howard was a former member of the White Pigeon Church of Christ, where he served as deacon and treasurer. He enjoyed camping and fishing “up north” and mushrooming. He became the primary caregiver to his wife, Mary Lou, in their later years, sitting on the porch and playing his Gibson guitar for her. Howard is survived by daughters Katrina Danielczuk of Mattawan and Linda (Robert) VanderStraaten of Mendon; grandchildren Michael (Angie) VanderStraaten, Sarah (Jake) Pease, Tina Munson-Merrell, Georgia Miles, Stephanie Smeros, Misty Carpenter, and Mary Russell; great-grandchildren including Calvin and Lucy Pease, Ethan, Blake, and Dylan VanderStraaten; sisters Lila Munson, Helen Luegge, and Sharon Drake; and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Mary Lou; great-grandson Devon VanderStraaten; brothers Archie and Patrick Gragg; and sisters Yolanda Puterio, Patricia Fisher, and Alice Terry. Donations may go to St. Jude’s Childrens Research Hospital or Shriner’s Hospitals for Children. Assistance provided by the Eickhoff Funeral Home of Mendon. Visit his page at

Jennifer Carol Laker, 52, Kalamazoo, formerly of Vicksburg, passed away peacefully on June 7, 2023, at Rose Arbor Hospice after a short but brave battle with cancer. She was born on Christmas Day, 1970, to Kenneth and Nancy Webster. After graduating from Otsego High School, she completed training to become a medical assistant. She was a dedicated employee at Advanced Cardiac Health Care where she worked as a cardiac device technician for 20 years. She was a favorite among colleagues and patients alike. Jennifer married her soulmate, Brian Laker, on September 19, 1997, in Las Vegas. They recently celebrated their 25th anniversary in Aruba. She loved life and embraced all types of adventures, physical activity, and the out-of-doors. She especially enjoyed time with her family and her girlfriends. Her comfort time was curled up with a good book and her dogs, “fur babies” Stella and Bahloo. To all that knew her, she blessed them with her kind and loving heart. Jennifer is survived by her husband of 25 years, Brian Laker; children Alek (Renee) and Derek; father, Kenneth L. Webster; brother and sister-in-law Michael and Carrie Rhodes; and many nieces, nephews and countless friends. Jennifer was preceded in death by her mother, Nancy Webster and a brother, Mark Rhodes. There will be a celebration of life on Sunday, July 23, at Heritage Glen Golf Course, 29795 Heritage Lane, Paw Paw, Michigan, from 1 to 5 p.m. Visit her page at Memorials may be made to Centrica Care Navigators/Rose Arbor Hospice. The Laker family is being cared for by the Avink, McCowen & Secord Funeral Homes and Cremation Society, Portage.

Vivian “Viv” J. McCowen, 100, Kalamazoo, passed away on May 27, 2023. She was born December 18, 1922, in Bainbridge Township in Berrien County, the daughter of Walter E. and Reta M. (Griffin) Smith. Vivian graduated from Benton Harbor High School in 1941 and married Robert “Bob” H. McCowen on June 12, 1943. After their wedding they lived in Akron where Bob was stationed in the Army. Vivian helped during World War II and worked at Goodyear Tire Company. After the war, Bob took a job with the Upjohn Company, and they made Kalamazoo their home and raised their family. They enjoyed spending time at their cottage at Sister Lakes. Viv was active in the Order of the Eastern Star as a member of the Corinthian Chapter No. 123. For over 20 years Vivian worked as an administrative assistant for Portage Public Schools at Waylee Elementary until she retired in 1979. After retirement she and Bob moved to Sun City, Arizona. Bob and Vivian traveled extensively. After Robert passed away in 2010, Vivian moved back to Michigan and settled in Portage. Vivian was preceded in death by her husband; sons Robert and Thomas; and a brother, John Smith. Vivian is survived by her grandsons, Steve (Jenny) McCowen of Scotts, Jeff (Melanie) McCowen of Virginia, Carl (Claire) McCowen of Massachusetts, and Robert (Andra) McCowen of Kansas; great-grandchildren Mackenzie, Joey, Stephen, Nick, Kate, Elliot, Emma, and Evan; and daughters in law Rose McCowen of Kansas and Sue McCowen of Jackson. Services have been held. Visit her page at Those who wish may make contributions to Vicksburg Community Schools Foundation, Portage Senior Center or Centrica Care Navigators.

Karon L. Morley, 68, Leonidas, died June 4, 2023 at Corewell Blodgett Hospital in East Grand Rapids. She was born in Vicksburg on May 19, 1955, the daughter of the late Erving H. and June L. (Miller) Morley and was a lifetime resident of the Vicksburg area. She was a graduate of Vicksburg High School and earned her bachelor’s degree from Western Michigan University. She was a substitute teacher at many of the area schools, and most recently worked at an adult foster care home. Karon was a musician who played piano at both the Mendon United Methodist Church and the West Mendon Community Church for many years. She played the fiddle for the Mendon Kiwanis Showboat for 40 years, for Main Street Review in Vicksburg, and with the Fryling Family Gospel Singers. Karon enjoyed playing the Daily Lottery and bingo. She was fond of animals, and pets were always important to her, especially cats. Her generous heart, ability to remember dates and quirky sense of humor will be greatly missed. Karon was married to Leon “Stub” Truckey on September 2, 1986 in Manton, Michigan. He survives along with children Ross (Alisha) Truckey of Leonidas, Walker (Alex) Truckey and Sky (Adam) Truckey, both of Kalamazoo; step-children Patrick Truckey and Bobbie Jo (Nick) Smith, both of Kalamazoo; grandchildren Summer Truckey, Blake Truckey, Chloe Visscher, Ainsley Smith, and Nelson Smith; sisters Kathleen Slater of Florida and Sharon Morley of Pilot, Virginia; twin brother Kevin Morley of Leonidas; and several nieces and nephews. Donations may go to the Mendon United Methodist Church or to the West Mendon Community Church. Memories and condolences may be shared at

Nancy Ray Nelson-Vander Weide passed away May 28, 2023 after a short illness. Nancy was born June 21, 1938 in Platteville, Wisconsin, the daughter of Ray Lee Henning and Elizabeth Mary Henning. The family moved around after her birth and Nancy eventually graduated from high school in Port Huron. She married Norman Bruce Nelson on June 15, 1957. Because of Norman’s job, the family moved often but finally settled in Vicksburg, where all the boys graduated from high school. Nancy and Norm attended Kalamazoo First Assembly of God. Nancy was an avid singer and joined the choir where she enjoyed praising and glorifying the Lord. Norm was killed in a plane crash in 1991. Nancy studied and became a registered nurse and worked for many years in the medical field. She married Roger E. Vander Weide on August 17, 1996. Nancy spent happy years watching her blended family grow and flourish. Nancy is survived by her four sons and their wives, Jeffrey and Lynda Nelson, Jay and Donna Nelson, Joel and Brenda Nelson, and David and Dawn Nelson; brother William L. Henning and sister-in-law Agnes A. Henning; stepchildren Catherine Dusseljee, Christopher Vander Weide, Elizabeth Fenstermaker, and Shelley Kengis; and many grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces and nephews. Visit her page at The Vander Weide family is being cared for by the Avink, McCowen & Secord Funeral Homes, Vicksburg.