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Linda R. Sowle

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Linda Ruth Sowle, a caring, loving, and detail-oriented mother, grandmother and friend, died on Sunday, January 3, 2021. Linda, 69, of Holt, Mich. was born June 7, 1951 in Battle Creek, the daughter of Howard and Maxine (Toomey) Maurer. She graduated from Olivet High School and later earned an associate degree. Linda’s first work was as a delivery room tech at a local hospital. Later, she worked as a policy specialist for the State of Michigan where she helped to develop the State of Michigan Medicaid billing system. Linda married Eric Wilmore and spent the next several years creating their legacy until his passing in 2011. Linda enjoyed baking; she was famous for her white chocolate raspberry cheesecakes. Baking was a skill she learned at a young age from her Aunt Iva Jean. Her hobbies included camping all over the state with family, bluegill fishing with her dear friend Julie Shaver, bowling, and her golf league at Centennial Acres with her dear friends. Many will remember Linda as a very giving person who was always there to help and had a talent to anticipate the needs of others. She was a cherished grandmother and best friend to her grandson, Jackson. Above all Linda cherished the time she spent with her family.
Linda is survived by her sons, Brett Wilmore and Jeremy Wilmore, both of Fla; grandchildren, Jackson and Emani; siblings, Marcia (Michael) Petersen, Carl (Amy) Maurer; and great friend, Julie Shaver. She was predeceased by her husband, Eric Wilmore; and niece, Monica Petersen.
Funeral services were held at 11 a.m. on Friday, January 8, 2021 at Pray Funeral Home with Laura Cooper officiating. Mask, group capacity, and distancing guidelines were practiced. Linda asked that a memorial fund be set up for her grandson, Jackson’s college fund, so if desired please make donations to Jeremy Wilmore in this regard. Friends and family are encouraged to share memories of Linda on her tribute page at PrayFuneral.com. The family is in the care of Pray Funeral Home, Charlotte.

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Lawrence D. Hale

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Lawrence Douglas Hale, 56, of Nashville, died unexpectedly on January 4, 2021 in Ionia. Larry was born July 2, 1964, in Charlotte, the son of Melvin Douglas and Carene Jane (Rowden) Hale. He graduated from Olivet High School where he played football. He later earned his mechanic license from ITT Tech. Most recently, he worked on the line at Ventra Ionia Main. Larry enjoyed Shirley’s Chuckwagon Café in Nashville, and reminiscing on many years of camping trips up north.
Larry is survived by his son, Eric Hale; sisters, Brenda Hale-Taylor and Tammy (Pete) Bryner; and nephews, Charles (Nicole) Bryner, David (Amanda) Bryner, and Chance Taylor. He was predeceased by his parents.
Friends are encouraged to support Larry’s family. A memorial service will take place this summer, when outdoor services resume. If desired, the family suggests memorial contributions to the American Diabetes Association. Friends and family are encouraged to share memories of Larry on his tribute page at PrayFuneral.com. The family is in the care of Pray Funeral Home, Charlotte.

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Randy R. Grundstrom

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Randy Robert Grundstrom, age 49, of Charlotte, passed away Sunday, January 3, 2021, at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing. He was born September 30, 1971, in Charlotte, the son of Randy and Diane (Leiter) Grundstrom. Randy graduated from Charlotte High School with the class of 1989. While in high school Randy excelled in both basketball and football. In basketball he was named All-Capital Circuit, Lansing State Journal Fabulous Five, Special Mention Class A All-State by the Associated Press, and fifth Team All-State by the Detroit Free Press. Randy was also selected to play in the BCAM Class A All-Star Game. After high school he went on to play at Calvin College on a full ride scholarship. Randy had a heart of gold. He was always concerned about the needs of others. He cherished the opportunity to mentor many of the local youth as a basketball coach. Randy was also known for his tremendous sense of humor. He enjoyed making others laugh. The most important thing in Randy’s life was his daughter, Emma. He adored her and cherished each and every memory they made together.
Randy is survived by his daughter, Emma Grundstrom of Grand Rapids; mother, Diane (George) Goodnoe of Eaton Rapids; father, Randy Lee Grundstrom of Charlotte; siblings, Tina (Jim) Brayton of Charlotte, Judd (Brenda) Converse of Charlotte, Jackie Hisler of Charlotte, Tony (Nichole) Grundstrom of Charlotte; and numerous nieces, nephews, and friends.
Randy was preceded in death by his grandparents, June Grundstrom, Laura Little, Ward Leiter; and his nephew, Dustyn Converse.
A private funeral service will be held on Saturday, January 9, 2021, at 11 a.m. at the Burkhead-Green-Kilgo Funeral Home with Pastor Randy Leiter officiating. A public visitation was held on Friday, January 8, 2021, from 2 to 4 p.m. and from 6 to 8 p.m. at the funeral home with face covering and capacity guidelines observed. Due to the funeral service being private and for immediate family only, the service will be livestreamed at listentochurch.com/listen/bgk. Burial will take place at Maple Hill Cemetery.
Those desiring, may make contributions to the family to be given towards his daughter Emma’s education.
To view Randy’s obituary online or to leave a condolence for the family please visit burkhead-green-kilgo.com.
The family is being served by Burkhead-Green-Kilgo Funeral Home.

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Norma J. Shepler

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Norma Jean Shepler, a hard-working woman of deep commitment to her family, died Wednesday, December 30, 2020. Norma was born September 13, 1935, the daughter of Melvin and Mildred (Johnson) Wilhelm. She married her lifelong love, Ronald Shepler on August 2, 1952, and the two settled into family life on the farm. Norma was the backbone of her family. She assisted in the early morning milking chores, bailed hay, canned fruits and vegetables, and sewed clothing for her three children. Norma’s skills as a seamstress were unmatched. She created many of her own patterns, and created countless meticulously perfect quilts. She also knitted, crocheted, and made baskets. Norma passed on her talents to her daughters, and to several others during her years as a 4H leader. Her family and friends will also remember her incredible cooking, especially her pies, cakes, casseroles, and specialty baked beans for every holiday. Norma and Ron enjoyed summer adventure camping trips with all of their grandchildren. Over the years they made many travels, eventually visiting all 50 states. Norma lived an active life, never once slowing down, and always making time for her family. One of her grandchildren wrote a note to her saying, “You gave me unconditional love, kindness, patience, humor, comfort, lessons in life and, most importantly, cookies! Thank you for always believing in me, always encouraging me, and always loving me.”
Norma is survived by her children, Julie (Bruce) Telfer, Betty (Darryl) Shook, and Bill Shepler; grandchildren, Amy (Jacob) Williams, Carla (Kenneth) Vastine, John Shook, Dennis Shook, and Kimberly Hubbs; five great-grandchildren, Olivia and Kaylee Williams, Allison and Kenny Vastine, and Emberly Hubbs; brother, Larry Wilhem; and several nieces and nephews. Norma was predeceased by her husband of 65 years, Ronald Shepler and two grandchildren, Staff Sgt. Garett Swift and Charlotte Shook.
A private family gathering and interment at Center Eaton Cemetery will take place, following by a public celebration of life this summer, when possible. Friends and family are encouraged to share memories of Norma on her tribute page at PrayFuneral.com. The family is in the care of Pray Funeral Home, Charlotte.

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Mary C. Ensign

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Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands! Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good, his mercy is everlasting and his truth endureth to all generations.
The heavens rang with songs of joy on the first day of the New Year 2021. Mary Catherine Satre Ensign was welcomed home by her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! She joins her beloved husband, James Robert Ensign, who preceded her to everlasting life in February 2018. Mary lived her life praising her Lord. She was a talented musician, an organist in the Lutheran church, a director of church choirs, and teacher of piano and organ to many young students for over 25 years.
Mary is survived by daughters, Elizabeth (Barry) Latoszewski of Vermontville, Mary Copping of Pinckney, Sarah (Tom) Gruber of Rockford, Laura (Brad) Beyer of Gaylord; and her son, Paul (Terry) Ensign of Blanco Texas; along with many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews. She is also survived by her younger brother, Rev. Carl H. (Joyce) Satre of Fort Wayne, Indiana, and sister-in-law, Mrs. Earl S. (Katherine) Ensign of Toledo, Ohio. She was predeceased by her parents, Rev. William Carl Satre and Mary Elizabeth Hersch Satre; her step-mother, Dorothy Drewes Satre; and her brother-in-law, Earl S. Ensign, Jr.
Mary was born May 29, 1930 in Polo, Ill., to Rev. W. Carl Satre and Mary Elizabeth Satre. Mary’s early years were spent in Lena, Ill., where her father was pastor of Amity Lutheran Church. She began studying piano at the age of four. The family later moved to Toledo, Ohio where she continued her music studies. She was just 16 when she began playing the organ in church. She graduated from DeVilbiss High School, Toledo, in 1948. It was in church where she met her future husband, James Robert Ensign, and they were married April 14, 1950. Her husband Bob also became a Lutheran pastor. They were married for 68 years, until his death on February 3, 2018.
Mary lived her faith. She was a kind, loving woman who raised five children while serving as a full-time church organist at All Saints Lutheran Church in Worthington, Ohio, Christ Lutheran Church and Grace Lutheran Church in Monroe, Mich. In her retirement years she played the organ part-time at Bethel Lutheran Church in Cedarville, Mich. and First Lutheran Church in Charlotte, Mich. She began teaching piano while in Monroe, and then taught for over ten years in Cedarville. Many of her students rode the school bus directly to her home for after school lessons. Knowing they would be hungry, Mary always had a tray of homemade cookies waiting for them.
Mary became a resident of Eaton County Health and Rehabilitation Services in Charlotte in 2017. The family wishes to thank the staff at ECHRS for their compassionate care. Due to the risks of COVID-19, a service was held for immediate family only, on January 7, 2021 at First Lutheran Church of Charlotte, with the Rev. Jim Eggert officiating. Interment followed at Hillside Cemetery in Kalamo, Mich.
For those who wish, memorial gifts may be directed to First Lutheran Church, Charlotte. Friends and family are encouraged to share memories of Mary on her tribute page at PrayFuneral.com. The family is in the care of Pray Funeral Home, Charlotte.
We rejoice in Mary’s triumph over death, and say with the Apostle Paul:
“Thanks Be to God through our Lord Jesus Christ who gives us the victory!”

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Deborah J. Cook

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Deborah “Debbie” Jayne Cook, the rock and glue for her loving family, passed away surrounded by her family on Saturday, January 2, 2021. Debbie, 58, of Vermontville, was born May 9, 1962, in Lansing, Mich., the daughter of Clarence and Shirley (Bradley) Shaffier. On July 17, 1987 Debbie married Rex Cook. Debbie was a stay-at-home mother/grandmother. She did work for a number of years as a customer service manager at different jobs. Debbie held her family together with her loving, strong and supportive nature. She did however have a feisty and sassy side; you didn’t want to cross her the wrong way. Debbie served as a 4H leader for five years and later could be found supporting her grandchildren with their 4H. Her hobbies included camping in South Haven, going to tractor shows, playing cards, going to Silver Lake, cruising around on her golf cart, collecting cows, Mickey Mouse, and red Christmas truck ornaments, and most importantly having her grandchildren over.
Debbie is survived by her loving husband of 33 years, Rex; children, Elaine Fears, Daniel (Jennie) Cook, Pammy (Robby) Shoup, Dustin Cook; grandchildren, Hunter, Austynn, Logan, Zamiyia, Rex, Avery, Robby, Makenna, Amelia, Dakota, Kala, Shala, Briana, Tori, Michael, Hailey, Harley, Ashton, Jayden; great-grandchildren, Braxton, MaKayla, Maddie, Aiden, Little Avery; brothers, Delmas Shaffier, Jerry (Karen) Shaffier; brothers-in-law, Mark (Tonya) Cook, Harry (Karyn) Cook, Larry Cook, Leroy (Elaine) Cook, Jerry Durret; and numerous nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by siblings, Jim Shaffier, Bradley Shaffier, Gracie Durret; her parents; in-laws, Maxine and Harold Cook; brothers-in-law, Carl and Earl Cook; sister-in-law, Mary Dewitt; and nephew, Dennis Rodeman.
A public visitation was held on Wednesday, January 6, 2021 at Pray Funeral. The family will be having a Celebration of Life for Debbie at a later date once it is safe to do so.
If desired, the family suggests memorial contributions to Eaton Community Palliative Care. Friends and family are encouraged to share memories of Debbie on her tribute page at PrayFuneral.com. The family is in the care of Pray Funeral Home, Charlotte.

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Bennett L. Staples

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Bennett Layton Staples, age 80, of Eaton Rapids, Mich. passed on to Heaven on Friday, January 1, 2021. Ben was born in Lynchburg, Virginia on May 17, 1940 to the late Glover and Grace (Cook) Staples. He served in the Marine Corps early in life and then relocated to Alaska where he enjoyed racing cars on ice, and where he met the love of his life, Judy Sajdak, whom he married in 1975. Shortly after they relocated to the West Coast and started a family. He enjoyed boating, crabbing, and sharing his love for racing and Porsche with his children and family. Eventually his employment in retail management brought him and his family to Eaton Rapids, Mich., and Ben really loved investing in and caring for his employees in the various Sam’s Club stores throughout Lansing, Jackson and Battle Creek. In retirement he used his love of cars and ability to talk about them with anyone to help his friend John Bellkey at Bellkey Automotive in Eaton Rapids. For years he was in his happy place travelling with his wife and family to watch Porsches race.
Ben was an extremely selfless husband and father who always took care of his family. He had a sense of humor that could help anyone laugh at life, and great little nuggets of wisdom to help people see the bigger picture. Though he was very easygoing and friendly, Ben had a determined character and was a fighter; he certainly didn’t let 2020 get the best of him. Aside from watching races with his wife, his greatest joy was spending time with his children and grandchildren, tinkering, building, setting up something fun to do for them like the go-kart, and handing on important life skills. He was a fantastic teacher and encourager from whom everyone loved to seek advice.
He is survived by his wife; son, David (Kari) Staples; daughter, Alexis (Carey) Jarvis; grandchildren, Jacob, Baker, Beau, Ancilla, Peter, George, and Zelie Staples, and Sydney Jarvis; sister, Barbara Wallace; nephew, John Wallace and niece Barb Wallace; cousins Mary Derbyshire, Phyllis (Ed) Barker, Ruth Foster, and others.
His family is incredibly grateful to all of those who have been praying for Ben and for them. They are also very grateful for Sparrow’s Hospice doctor and nurses who cared for him, and for many of his other Sparrow nurses and several of his doctors. If you’d like to make a gift on Ben’s behalf, his family would be grateful if you did so to Sparrow Hospice Care Services.
Funeral services were held on Wednesday, January 6, 2021 at Skinner Funeral Home, Eaton Rapids Chapel. To share memories or condolences please visit SkinnerFuneralHomes.com.

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Iven P. Norris Jr.

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Iven P. “Ike” Norris Jr., of Onondaga, Mich. passed away on Saturday, December 26, 2020 at the age of 95. Ike was born on October 12, 1925 in Delhi Township. He was the last surviving of 14 siblings born to Ivan Norris Sr. and Mary Ellen (Purcell) Norris. He attended Leslie High School before leaving early to join the United States Army during WWII. During that time he served with the 311th infantry regiment, 78th division and was a decorated WWII veteran who received the Good Conduct Medal, three Bronze stars, and a Purple Heart. After the war he continued to be active in the military for 23 years, serving first in the National Guard and later in the Army reserves. Ike also worked for Springport Steel, River Raisin Paper Company and Jackson County Road Commission where he retired in 1982. He was a founding member of the Onondaga Sportsman’s Club, a lifetime member of the NRA, member of the Springport VFW and American Legion. Ike also loved to hunt, fish and golf and was a beloved member of the “Geritol League” at Hankerd Hills Golf Course. Everywhere he went he was known for his quick wit and great stories. Throughout his life he always considered himself an active serviceman, a defender of America and her freedoms. He portrayed this in the way he lived his life through his generosity to veteran and community organizations, and volunteering his time to support and mentor the next generation. But above all, Ike was a family man who cherished his blended family. He was loved by many and touched numerous lives for the positive. His death is a huge loss to everyone he touched. He will be sadly missed and fondly remembered.
He is preceded in death by his parents; son, Steven Norris; stepchildren, John Manthei, Bill Manthei, and Marilyn Lubahn; and 13 brothers and sisters.
Surviving are his wife, Janet (Donze) Norris; son, Stanley (Deb) Norris; daughters, Sandy Ruiz, Susan (Jim) Richardson; stepdaughter, Lisa (Eric) Cooper; 23 grandchildren; 33 great-grandchildren; 5 great-great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.
A graveside service will be held at Fort Custer National Cemetery at a later date. To share memories or leave condolences please visit SkinnerFuneralHomes.com.

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Lois Visser

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Lois Dee Visser, of Charlotte, Mich., died on December 23, 2020 at the age of 78.

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Lauraine M. Paladino

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Lauraine Marian Paladino, thoughtful, cheerful and bright, of Charlotte, died December 28, 2020. Lauraine, 76, was born January 14, 1944 in Brooklyn, N.Y. She was the oldest of eight children born to Raymond and Mary (Smith) Reynolds. She was a natural caregiver and was looked upon by her siblings as more of a mother than a sister. She often put others’ needs ahead of her own. She excelled and enjoyed her artistic abilities whether it was drawing, stained glass, playing her accordion or photography. Lauraine participated in the John F. Kennedy presidential campaign, and enjoyed being a “Kennedy Girl.” Retired from General Motors, she had more time to enjoy with her grandchildren. She was proud of her Russian/Irish heritage and her red hair, but if you asked her what she was most proud of, family and grandkids would be at the top of the list.
Lauraine is survived by her children, Michelle (Jim) Taylor, and David (Susan) Paladino; grandchild, Aiden Myers; siblings, Joyce Proto, Rose Vosilla, Elaine Mudry, Phyllis Muro, John Reynolds. She was predeceased by her sister, Rita Remillard; brother, Raymond Reynolds; significant other, Larry Weicht; and her beloved grandson, Liam Myers, whom she helped care for.
Friends are encouraged to support Lauraine’s family. Funeral services are Saturday, January 2, 2021,11 a.m. at Pray Funeral Home in Charlotte with Pastor Neil Brady officiating. Visitation was held on Friday evening, January 1, from 6 – 8 p.m. Mask, group capacity and distancing guidelines will be practiced. The funeral will also be webcast so you may watch it from any computer, smartphone, or mobile device that has internet access. Go to PrayFuneral.com, click on Lauraine’s tribute, then click on photos and videos from your computer (or media from your smart phone). Just prior to the beginning of the service, a link will appear on this page to watch the webcast.
Friends and family are encouraged to share memories of Lauraine on her tribute page at PrayFuneral.com. The family is in the care of Pray Funeral Home, Charlotte.

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