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.


David Willmarth Blunt passed away May 7, 2023 after living with pulmonary fibrosis for more than a decade. David was born September 29, 1943 in Youngstown, Ohio to Robert and Dorothy (Leubin) Blunt. The family moved to California where he attended Escondido High School. At University of Oregon, he ran track for the founder of Nike and majored in economics. He was vice president of sales for Harborlite Corporation. Dave married Martha Page in 1966. They divorced in 1989, but remained close to parent their children: Christopher, Rob, and Kathleen. In 1993, Dave married Debra (Beauchamp) Wagnitz, and welcomed her children, Sarah and Aimee, into his life. Dave was preceded in death by his brother, Bob, and his parents. He is survived by his wife, Deb; children and step children Christopher (Kerstin) Blunt, Dr. Robert (Danielle Walters) Blunt, Kathleen (Colby) Richards, Sarah (Hank) Avink, and Dr. Aimee (Tim) Simpson; grandchildren Elonna, Henry, Jeffrey, Simonne, David, Sophia, Corbin, Molly, Charlie, Nathan, Julian, Gabriel, and Tessa; honorary grandchildren Zainab, Nazli, and Zarifa; brother Bill (Diane) Blunt; many beloved extended family members, and his ex-wife, Martha (Bob) Greene. Visit his page at Donations may go to Centrica Care Navigators.

Phyllis Louise Copenhafer, 81, Fulton, passed away May 15, 2023, at Ascension Borgess Hospital. Phyllis was born on March 23, 1942, a daughter of Ray and Nedra (Norris) Wolfe. She was a graduate of Colon High School and later graduated from Ferris State University with an associate degree in accounting. On August 23, 1964, Phyllis married Stanley F. Copenhafer at Leonidas Bible Church. Stanley preceded her in death 56 years later, on April 12, 2021. Phyllis was a lifelong member of the church where she served as treasurer for many years. Phyllis also worked as a secretary for Vicksburg Public Schools, and later as an accountant for Comstock Public Schools where she retired in 2005. Phyllis was also a member and leader of the Leonidas Do-Best 4-H Club. She also enjoyed traveling, playing the piano, and was a proud lover of stray cats. Surviving Phyllis are her sons, Alan (Linda) Copenhafer of Vicksburg and Dean (Connie) Copenhafer of Clinton Township, Michigan; grandsons Jeffery (Karen) Copenhafer and Mikel (Janessa) Copenhafer; and great grandson Royce Copenhafer. Besides her parents, Ray and Nedra Wolfe, Phyllis was preceded in death by her husband, Stanley Copenhafer, and brother Royce Allen Wolfe. Donations may go to Leonidas Bible Church. Visit her page at

Dana Sue (DeGraaf) Erb, 63, Portage, passed away April 14, 2023, at Bronson Hospital. Dana was born October 24, 1959, in Kalamazoo to Edgar J. and Doris E. (VanOstran) DeGraaf. Dana graduated from Portage Northern High School in 1978. At the time of her passing, Dana was managing the Horizon Bank branch on West Centre Street. Previously, she was branch manager at Kellogg Community Credit Union and Mercantile Bank in Kalamazoo, where she was a member of the Oakwood Business Association. Dana volunteered as treasurer for Building Blocks of Kalamazoo and frequently provided financial planning to area high school students. Dana enjoyed spending time with her family and friends. Dana loved the beach in South Haven, as well as traveling to visit her sons in The Netherlands and New York City. Dana is survived by her partner, Michael Evans; sons Jason (Amélie), Joshua (Eric) Hecksel, and Dustin (Will) Chen; grandchildren Adriana, Hugo and Lucas; mother Dorie (VanOstran) DeGraaf; siblings Angela DeGraaf, Michael (Lisa) DeGraaf, Edward (Lee) DeGraaf and Michelle (Barry) Gray; and many nieces and nephews. Dana was preceded in death by her father, Edgar DeGraaf. Donations may go to Kalamazoo Animal Rescue or American Lung Association.

James Edward Fess, 91, Vicksburg, passed away April 14, 2023. He was born December 9, 1931, in Toledo, Ohio, the son of Theodore and Agnes (Jones) Fess and the youngest of four siblings. James retired from Pfizer (formerly Upjohn) after 55 years. He made a living building houses, having even built one for himself on Portage Lake. He was preceded in his passing by his parents; siblings Robert “Bob” Fess, Roberta Steward, and Anna Gutierrez; sons James Fess Jr. and Jonathan Fess; daughter Jacqueline Springston (Fess); and two grandchildren, Lil Jon Davis-Fess and Holli Davis-Fess. Left to cherish his loving memory is his wife, Diane (Ridenour) Fess, and daughters Melanie, Nancy, and Pat. Visit his page at

Ruth Ann Marie (Hoeksema) Hiskes, 85, Vicksburg, went home to be with her Lord and Savior on May 13, 2023. Ruth was born in Chicago on June 22, 1937, the daughter of Henry and Henrietta (Kramer) Hoeksma. Ruth was a graduate of Chicago Christian College and Kendall School of Art. A homemaker and devoted mother, she raised three children and spent much time gardening. She enjoyed watercolor painting and photography. Antiquing and fairy-gardening were some of her favorite pastimes. She is survived by her loving husband of 66 years, Donald Hiskes; children Scott (Sheryl) Hiskes, Heidi (Kenneth) Dykstra, and Mark (Julie) Hiskes; grandchildren Jason Swaagman, Justine (Brandon) Budz, Joel (Amanda) Hiskes, Adam (Jessica) Dykstra, David (Mariah) Dykstra, Jamilyn Hiskes, Brian Hiskes; seven great grandchildren; siblings Henry Hoeksema, David (Maryalice) Hoeksema, and Donald (Patty) Hoeksema. Ruth was preceded in passing by her parents, Dr. Henry and Henrietta Hoeksema; grandchild Benjamin Dykstra; brother Karl Hoeksema; and in-laws Dr. John and Dolores Hiskes, with whom she had a special relationship. Visit her page at

Randall A. Jensen, 62, Vicksburg, died May 13, 2023, at Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo. He was born in Kalamazoo on March 15, 1961, the son of Albert and Kathleen (Reilly) Jensen. He was a state champion wrestler at Vicksburg High School and was inducted into the hall of fame. After graduation, he served in the U.S Army Rangers. Randy worked at Stryker Corporation, and then at Redline Manufacturing. He was a welder at work as well as at home, creating and repairing things in his barn. He enjoyed the outdoors. Randall was married to Raquel “July” Laurente on Sep. 14, 2012 in Kalamazoo. She survives along with a daughter, Miranda (Jacob Stevens) Jensen of Vicksburg; a son, Randall Jensen Jr. of Chicago; grandchildren Isaiah, Edison, and Ophelia; a brother, Richard (Heather) Jensen; and sister, Robin (Mark) Welch. He was preceded in death by his parents, Al and Kay Jensen. Visit his page at

Donald M. Lemley, 69, Vicksburg, passed away May 17, 2023, at Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo. Don was born May 26, 1953, in Huntington, New York, the son of Donald and Susan (O’Leary) Lemley. He graduated from Walt Whitman High School in 1971 and enlisted in the US Army. He served for a total of four years, two years in the Korean DMZ as munitions expert with nuclear training. He returned to New York where he worked as a police officer and an EMT. He began his career in security in Milwaukee at Alexian Village Senior Living. He attended Milwaukee Area Technical College, earned a degree in accounting and became a certified fraud examiner. In 2000, Don met his future wife, Francesca Bartocci online. Don ended up moving to Michigan and on July 7, 2001, they were married at St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church. He continued his career in security at the Battle Creek Federal Center, where he retired in 2007. Don enjoyed New York Yankees baseball, was an avid Strat-O-Matic player, and liked reading non-fiction. Don is survived by his wife, Francesca, and his niece, Victoria Scott. He was preceded in death by his parents and his sister and brother-in-law, Susan and Roger Scott. Visit his page at Donations may go to Wounded Warrior Project or to the ASPCA.

Beth Anne Miller passed away on April 10, 2023 with family at her side. She was born May 24, 1948, in Vicksburg to Howard and Bethel (Lamerson) Sult. Beth graduated from Vicksburg High School in the class of 1966 and went on to become an LPN. The most rewarding time in her career was providing in-home healthcare to disabled children and teens. Beth was a longtime faithful member of South Church where she served as a deaconess. She also provided marriage counseling and helped lead bible studies with her husband, Paul. Beth was proud of her grandchildren and cherished her role as their Grammy. She is survived by her daughters, Marna Miller and Angie (Darren) Wear; grandchildren, Austin Miller, Savannah (Sequoia) Wear-Farrell-Williams, Lucas, Hope, Isabella and Aiden Wear; siblings, Arden (Penny) Sult, Dale (Marty) Sult, Bernie Sult and Barbara (John) Hoffman; in-laws, Vickie (Bud) Kline, Darlene (David) Hammer along with several nieces and nephews. Beth was preceded in death by her husband Paul; grandsons Zachery Wear and Jonah Miller; and sister-in-law, Sharon Bobb. Donations may go to Lansing City Rescue Mission.

Tricia Rose Miller, 16, Vicksburg, passed away peacefully in her sleep on May 4, 2023. She was born in Kalamazoo on May 4, 2007, the daughter of Amy Miller. Trish enjoyed Dora the Explorer, chocolate pudding, riding the bus at Woods Edge Learning Center, and playing with empty chip bags. Trish loved her Poppy and listening to his oldies music. She enjoyed her siblings, especially playing the piano with Tiffani and any of Jake’s shenanigans. She was preceded in her passing by her grandmother, Patricia Rose Buell. She is survived by her mother, Amy Miller; siblings Stephanie (Marvin) Smeal, Lisa (Andy) Kitzmiller, Tiffani (James) Leonard, Thomas Miller, Johnathan Miller, and Jacob Miller; nieces and nephews Lilah, Kristen, Alec, Adam, Carson, Lilianna, and Levi; grandparents Bob Moughton and Edd (Poppy) Buell; aunts and uncles Scott (Kimberly) Buell, Bill (Jessica) Cox, Steve (Lynne) Buell, and Rob (Jessica) Moughton; and several cousins. Visit her page at

Mary Jane Peters, 96, Vicksburg, passed away peacefully on April 29, 2023. Mary was born on July 20, 1926, to Harry and Gladys (Cody) Eno. Mary attended Kalamazoo Central high school and graduated in 1944. Mary met Michael on a double date right after he returned from the Navy. They were at a dance, but they didn’t hit it off. But he was persistent, and he won her over. They were married on April 26, 1947. Mary was an active member of her church and involved in the church choir. She was a brownie and girl scout leader when her daughter was involved. Mary loved to garden and was an avid book reader. She also painted china dishes. Mary is survived by her husband of 76 years, Michael; their children, Linda Peters and David (Laurie) Peters; grandchildren Melissa Reyes, Sarah (Jereme) Smith, Justin Peters and Michael (Jayme Hart) Peters; great-grandchildren Gizelle Enriquez, Bella Enriquez, Addy Smith, Kinsley Smith, Hadley Smith, Grace Peters, Archer Peters and Rickey Peters, as well as very special friends, Karen and Dick Randall, Diana Dobson and Bev Porter. Mary was preceded in death by her parents and siblings Russ, Larry, George, Margaret. Visit her page at Donations may go to Elara Caring Hospice, Kalamazoo.

Gwendolyn Lee (Oswalt) Sherman, 84, Vicksburg, passed away on April 28, 2023, after a prolonged Alzheimer’s affliction. Growing up on a dairy farm near Vicksburg instilled an appreciation of hard work that served her well throughout her life. As a voice music major at MSU, Gwen’s mellow mezzo-soprano singing voice showed star potential but life in the big city was not to her liking. She switched to a teaching major and became a second-grade teacher in Lansing. She and Gary were married in 1961 and eventually landed in Minneapolis. There she crossed paths with Mary Kay Cosmetics. Mary Kay Ash recognized Gwen’s potential and became a mentor, business advisor, and champion. By the time she retired in 2005, Gwen had received many awards, including pink Cadillacs to drive the last 24 years and 19 Top Director trips to all corners of the world. She leaves behind her husband Gary; sons Geoffrey M. and wife Megan (Clore), Garth W. and wife Alison (Stensrude); grandchildren, Blake, Rachel, Chase, Max, Nathan and Cooper; and brother, William Lewis Oswalt. She was preceded in death by her parents, Stanley Martin and Gertrude Viola (Markle) Oswalt. Services have been held. Donations may go to Youth Haven or Centreville Baptist Church A special memorial service is being planned. Visit her page at

Jack Duane Steele, 95, passed away on April 2, 2023. He and his twin brother, Jim, were born on May 24, 1927, the sons of Clifford and Ethel (Baker) Steele. Jack and Jim enlisted in the US Navy in the spring of 1945. Fortunately, WWII ended before they were deployed. He graduated from Kalamazoo Central High School. Jack married Marie Slover on Thanksgiving Day 1949. He worked as a technician crafting partial plates at Fitch Dental Lab. After that, Jack worked at Upjohn for over 30 years. Marie died in 2014. In 2016, Jack and Jan Fess were married. Jack was an avid wood carver and stayed active. Jack is survived by his wife, Jan Steele; children Kirk (Elaine) Steele and Kim (Jorge) Steele; stepchildren Bob (Robin) Fess, Ted (Kim) Fess, and Jeannine (Deon) Brown; grandchildren Jennifer (Sam) Willoughby, Tyler (Kattie) Steele, Karlie (Garrett) Batten, Jessica (Glenn) Fess, Samantha (Kevin) McIntosh, Deon Jr. (Maria) Brown, Skylar (Maxine) Brown, Jazzlyne (Jordan) Ardoin, Lilliana Fess, and Penelope Fess; great-grandchildren Brayden, Emery, Brynn, Rylee, Mateo, Gabriella, Shia, and Jonah; niece Connie (Herman) Devries; and nephew Gary (Maria) Steele. Jack was preceded in death by his parents, first wife Marie, and twin brother Jim. Donations may go to West Mendon Community Church or National Audubon Society. Visit his page at

Shirley A. Valencourt, 95, formerly of Vicksburg, passed away May 18, 2023. Shirley was born March 28, 1928, in Kalamazoo, the daughter of Everett and Anna (Ritter) Haynes. She graduated from Vicksburg High School in 1946 and on September 27, 1946, she married William Valencourt. Shirley worked for Upjohn for 20 years, retiring in 1986. Shirley and Bill wintered in Texas for 15 years. She loved to play cards, crochet, knit, read and dance. She enjoyed puzzles and most recently enjoyed playing bingo at the Vineyards. Shirley attended Vicksburg United Methodist Church, was a member of Portage Senior Center and enjoyed taking bus trips with her daughter, Bonnie. Shirley is survived by four daughters, Judy (Charlie) Fitzsimmons, Barb (late Charles) Skuza, Bonnie (Phil) Goodman, and Linda (Terry) Johncock; 10 grandchildren; several great-grandchildren; two great-great-grandchildren; sisters Elaine Barringer, Ruth Bartholomew and Donna Reames; many nieces and nephews; and her lifelong best friend, Billie Andres. She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband Bill, and several siblings. Cremation has taken place and she will be laid to rest at Mt. Ever-Rest Memorial Park in Kalamazoo. Visit her page at Donations may go to Barry County Animal Shelter or the Vineyards Assisted Living.