Pearls In Our Past   





Postcard to You

Welcome Home



Community Folk
Special Honors
Special Recognitions

Community Services
Fire Department


Famous Folk & Heroes


Historic Events

Historic Homes

Maps – Stats – Aerial Photos

Militaryphotos, letters &
histories – Rev. War to present

Military Submit Information

Misc. History



Scenic – Prints available

Schools-Hartford & Keeler
• Athletics here
• Band here
• HHS graduate database here
• Reunion News here

• Class Composites here
• Misc. Class Photos here
• Memorable Teachers-Staff here


Hartford Floats
Hartford Royalty


§ Charles A. Spaulding
A History of Hartford
153 pg transcript

§ Katherine Minshall Early History of Hartford and Lawrence 12 pgs.
§ Eli Fayette Ruggles Recollections of A Busy Life circa 1904

Precious Pearls

Site Credits

Who are they?

Recollections and Jottings

Freq. Asked Questions

Email the Webmaster

Search Our Site

Links of interest

Enter your name and email address below to receive email newsletter and notification of
major changes to the site.
Use TAB key to move to next box. ALL entries are required.
* required fields

Your First AND Last name

Current email address
Show entire email address,
including .com, .net, etc.

Your connection to Hartford?
ex: grad, resident, former resident, summer visitor, etc.

If HHS student-grad, class yr?

Last name during school at Hartford

Where do you currently reside?

Select email newsletter(s):
History of Hartford newsletter
Local Events newsletter

Register Remove
(Left-click your mouse on
the appropriate box to select.)


Click on any menu icon or underlined link to find out more about a subject or individual.
Use the Search Our Site icon to find specific words or topics on the entire website.

ies in 2002
                                                    Hartford Michigan

            Click here to return to the to Obituary Index

Please email the webmaster if you have obituaries of people who have lived in Hartford Michigan, or was active in the Hartford community, at some time during their lives. To find a specific obituary, use the  Search Our Site  feature located on the left menu of every page.  The Obituary section was started January 30, 2008 and current obituaries will be posted as they become available.  Obituaries are from the local newspapers, unless otherwise noted.  If you have an obituary notice of a former Hartford resident from a newspaper away from the Hartford area, please send it.  Past obituaries will be added as time permits.  Death notices are also posted in the HHS graduate database.
Note:  if you have a good or different photo to insert with present or past obituaries for the History of Hartford website and email newsletters, please click here to email them unedited directly to the webmaster.  If you don’t have a scanner, send photo by US Mail to Emma Thornburg Sefcik, 59320 62nd St., Hartford MI  49057.

Many requests are made for obituary notices and this would be a good genealogical resource, as well as providing obits to extended family members who may not have an original.  Searching for obituaries from previous years (mainly prior to 2003) requires a good deal of time.  If you have found this to be a valuable resource and would like to be a sponsor toward keeping the obituaries page updated, send donations to History of Hartford Obituaries, Emma Sefcik, 59320 62nd St, Hartford MI  49057.  Since the History of Hartford website is a voluntary effort, your contribution is much appreciated.

Email the webmaster with any correction of errors that may have occurred in the original newspaper obit.

Click here for local library resources.


Frances Aileen Johnson-Rostek, 73, of Hartford, died unexpectedly on Friday, December 27, 2002, in Searcy, Arkansas.
     Funeral services were held at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 31, at Calvin Funeral Home,
Hartford, with Reverend Charles Davis of First General Baptist Church of Benton Harbor officiating. Burial was in Maple Hill Cemetery, Hartford. Visitation was held from 6 to 8 p.m. on Monday at the funeral home.
     She was born November 22, 1929, in Philadelphia, Mississippi, to Vester and Lillian Clay. She enjoyed raising her eight children.
     Survivors include her husband, Irvin Rostek of
Hartford; her mother, Lillian Clay of Watervliet; one brother, John (Bell) Clay of Watervliet; five sons–Eddie (Edith) Johnson of Benton Harbor, Paul "Pat" (Darlene) Johnson of Marion, Arkansas, and Tony (Kelly) Johnson, Michael (Jackie) Johnson and Gary (Trina) Johnson, all of Hartford; three daughters–Paulette Koszola, Shelia (Charles) McNeace of Searcy, and Dee Dee Johnson of Hartford; 25 grandchildren; and 17 greatgrandchildren. She was preceded in death by: her first husband, Paul "Red" Johnson Sr.; one great-grandson, John Wesley Watkins; and her father, Vester Clay.


Irene Yeckley James, 83, of Whittier, California, died Saturday, December 21, 2002, in California.
     Funeral services were held at noon on Monday, Dec. 30, at Calvin Funeral Home,
Hartford, with Reverend Ron Hansen of Hartford United Methodist Church officiating. Burial was in Maple Hill Cemetery, Hartford. Visitation was held beginning at 11 a.m. until the time of the service.
     She was born on September 23, 1919, to Roy and Mary (Hutchins) Yeckley, in
Hartford. She retired after 36 years of service to GTE; was a volunteer at Inter Faith Food Center for eight years; was married to Alfred Gonzales in 1962, until his death; and then married John James on July 21, 1973.
     Survivors include: her husband, John; a sister, Iris Mitchell; two nieces–Kay Scullin of Redlands, California, and Hope Tschappet; a nephew, Robert Froom; five stepchildren–Tom and John James, Rita Gonzales, Laura Hogan, and Yvonne Johnson; and numerous step-grandchildren and step-great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by: her first husband, Alfred Gonzales; one son, John Keith; twin brothers; and a stepson, Paul James.

Irene was a 1938 Hartford High School graduate

Larry John Soldaat, 45, of Hartford, died Friday, December 20, 2002, at LakeView Community Hospital, Paw Paw.
As to his wishes, cremation has taken place and there will be no service. Arrangements were by Calvin Funeral Home,
     Mr. Soldaat was born July 2, 1957, in Grand Rapids, the son of Jack and Matilda (Johnson) Soldaat. Survivors include: two sons–Justin Soldaat of Muncie, Indiana, and Joshua Soldaat of Albany, Indiana; one daughter, Angela Soldaat of Albany; one brother, Steven (Debra) Soldaat of
Hartford; one sister, Terry Soldaat of Fort Wayne, Indiana; two nephews–Steven (Amy) Soldaat Jr. of Hartford and Travis Soldaat, also of Hartford; and numerous great-nieces and great-nephews.

Louise Murphey, 88, of Hartford passed away peacefully on Monday, Sept. 30, 2002, at her daughter’s home in Hartford.
     Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 3, at Hartford Federated Church, of which she attended. Pastor Timothy Nyhuis will officiate. Burial will follow in Maple Hill Cemetery, Hartford. Visitation will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 2 at Calvin Funeral Home, Hartford. Memorial contributions may be made to Hartford Federated Church or Hospice of Van Buren County.
     Mrs. Murphey was born July 7, 1914, in Braidwood, Ill., the daughter of John and Louise (Mumbrum) Jackson. Both preceded her in passing. She was a member of the Cereal City Ramblers Trailer Club; an avid gardener; a great cook and loved to dance and go traveling.
     Survivors include: a son, Richard (Janet) Murphey of Cadillac, Mich.; daughter, Linda (David) Norden of Hartford; granddaughters — Sandra (Duane) Morton of Twin Lake, Mich., and Kellie (Tim) Hakken of Grand Junction; grandson, Kyle (Lisa) Norden of Hartford; four great-grandchildren; sister, Elsie Tryner of Illinois and a brother, Lawrence Jackson of Illinois; and an aunt, Lydia Kirkendall of Illinois.
     Louise was preceded in death by her husband, Chester E. Murphey, on May 28, 1995; a grandson, Shawn Murphey, on Jan. 10, 1998; two sisters and three brothers.

Randy Lee Ziemer, 32, of Hartford, passed away Sunday, Nov. 10, 2002, as the result of a farm accident.
     Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 14, at Calvin Funeral Home, Hartford, with Pastor John Sternaman officiating. Burial will be in Keeler Cemetery, Keeler Township. Visitation will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13, at the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Michigan Eye-Bank and Transplantation Center.
     Randy was born May 26, 1970, in Watervliet, the son of Rynold and Arlene (Danneffel) Ziemer. He was a farmer on his family owned farm. Randy was a sponsor of Sternaman Racing; a big NASCAR fan with favorite driver Jeff Gordon. Randy formerly raced his own car in Kalamazoo. He was an avid hunter and fisherman and loved spending time with his family and friends. He also enjoyed snowmobiling.
     Survivors include: his mother,
Arlene Ziemer of Hartford; a brother, Robert (Michelle) Ziemer of Watervliet; a sister, Lisa (Jim) Sternaman of Coloma; his fiancée Amy Weeden and daughter Annabelle of Hartford; nephew, Steven J. Sternaman; and nieces, Olivia Ziemer and Kendall Ziemer.
     He was preceded in death by his father, Rynold, on Aug. 19, 2001.

NOTE:  Randy was a 1989 Hartford High School graduate.

Joyce L. Parren, 83, of St. Joseph died Saturday, Nov. 9, 2002, at Lakeland Continuing Care Center, St. Joseph. Friends may call from noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday, followed by a celebration of life service at 1 p.m. at First United Methodist Church, 3003 Leco Ct., St. Joseph, where she was a member. Officiating the service will be the Rev. Wade Panse. Burial will be in Crystal Springs Cemetery, Benton Harbor. Memorials may be made to The Education Trust Account for her Great Grandchild or to the Arthritis Foundation. Arrangements have been entrusted to Starks & Menchinger Family Funeral Home, St. Joseph. Friends wishing to sign the guest book online may do so at
     Joyce was born May 31, 1919, to Clare and Josie (Koob) Clover in Hartford. On July 18, 1953, she married Glenn B. Parren, in Benton Harbor. During her life she worked at 3M Corp. in Chicago, St. Joseph City Hall and Whirlpool Corp., where she retired from in 1985. She was a member of Monday Musical and the Eastern Star.
     Survivors include: her son, Mark Parren of St. Joseph; two granddaughters, Kathy Parren of St. Joseph and Christa Parren of Virginia Beach, Va.; one great-grandchild, Jocelyn Thornton; two sisters — Mildred (Robert) Scranton of Brighton, Mich., and Gail (Clyde) Colman of Berrien Springs.
     She was preceded in death by her husband, Glenn, in 1983.
Gary Wayne Saline, 54, of Hartford passed away suddenly on June 3, 2002 at Community Hospital, Watervliet.
     A memorial service to celebrate Gary’s life will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, June 12, at Calvin Funeral Home, Hartford, where the family will greet friends beginning at 6 p.m. Wednesday.  The Rev. Charles Davis will officiate.  Military rites will be conducted at the funeral home by the American Legion Post 362 and its auxiliary; VFW Post 1137 and VFW Post 6803.
     In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Van Buren Sportsman’s club, of which he was a member.
     Mr. Saline was born June 28, 1947, in Hartford, the son of Ernest and Marie (Blake) Saline, both of whom preceded him in passing.  His sister, Darlene McGee, also preceded him in passing.
     Gary was employed at the Watervliet Paper Mill before owning and operating, for the past 14 years, Gary’s Service of Hartford, which he sold this year.  At the time of his death, he was employed at Krenek Van and RV Center of Coloma.  He was a
Seabee in the Navy during the Vietnam War and was a member of the American Legion.
     Gary is survived by his wife, Melva, whom he married on July 2, 1968; a son, U.S. Air Force TSGT Eric (Caryle) Saline of Las Vegas; a brother, Orville (Florence) Saline of Texas; and nephews, Bob and Joe Saline.
     Gary was a loving husband, father, brother, and friend, who will truly be missed.

NOTE: Gary was a 1965 Hartford High School graduate.

Arden Rowley, 71, of St. Joseph, passed away Monday, May 13, 2002, at Lakeland Hospital, St. Joseph.
     A Celebration of Life Service will be held at 11:30 a.m. Friday, May 17, at Starks & Menchinger Family Funeral Home, 2650 Niles Road, St. Joseph. Burial will follow at North Shore Memory Gardens. Friends may call on Friday from 10 a.m. until time of service. Memorials may be made to the Lakeshore High School Girls Athletic Programs. Friends wishing to share a memory on line may do so at
     Arden was born on Dec. 22, 1930, in Benton Harbor to Arthur and Lillian (Tetlock) Rowley. On June 7, 1952, he married Roberta Hefter, in Benton Harbor. He was a retired manager of various retail grocery stores. Mr. Rowley was also a veteran of the United States Army, having served in the Korean Conflict. He was an avid supporter and fan of Lakeshore High School sports, especially of the girls sports teams.
     Mr. Rowley is survived by his wife Roberta, and four sisters – Doris (Bill) Stembaugh of Paw Paw, Sheila (Earl) Price of Winter Haven, Fla., Marvis Rowley and Erma (Lester) White, both of Watervliet. Also surviving is a special friend, Kirkland Love of Brush Lake, Mich. He was preceded in death by his parents.

NOTE:  Arden was a 1949 Hartford High School graduate.

Eugene V. "Butch" Heeter, 85, of Hartford, died Monday evening, May 13,2002, at Lakeland Hospital, St. Joseph.
     Visitation will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. today, May 15, at Calvin Funeral Home, Hartford, where funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday, May 16. Captain Richard T. Sanders will officiate and Masonic rites will be conducted by the Chamberlain Coffinbury Lodge 308 F&AM, of which he was a member. Burial will be in Maple Hill Cemetery, Hartford.
     Butch was born May 16, 1916, in Sodus. He retired from American Electric Power Company, by whom he was employed for more than 40 years. He was an avid sportsman and a charter member of the Van Buren Sportsman’s Club. His entire life focused on his family and no matter how he felt, the presence of one of his grandchildren or great-grandchildren lifted his spirits and put a smile on his face.
     He was preceded in passing by his wife, Lucille, in 1988; his sister, Alice Henderson; his brother, Charles Dan Heeter; his sister, Ruth Thompson; and a special friend, Irene Hendrix.
     He is survived by his daughters Sandra (Floyd) Sanders; Patricia (Tom) Kirkpatrick and Deborah (Burt) Tetzlaff; grandchildren Eugene (Lori) Jarvis, Richard (Linda) Sanders, Leslie (Mark) Wild, Heather (Troy) Smith and Hillary (Ryan) Beck; six great-grandchildren; his twin sister, Veryl Davis; his twin brothers – William and James Heeter; and a great number of nieces . and nephews.
     Butch will always be remembered for his love of all children and the great outdoors. He will be missed by all who knew and loved him but will join Lucille in Heaven and dance in celebration of their reuniting.


Paul F. Richter – of Hartford, Age 84, passed away Saturday, May 4, 2002 at Michigan Veteran’s Facility in Grand Rapids, MI.
     Paul was born May 1, 1918 in Hartford, the son of Paul and Mabel (Dowd) Richter, both of whom preceded him in passing.
     Paul attended Kalamazoo College and the University of Michigan Medical School, before joining his father at Richter Insurance in Hartford, retiring in 1976. He managed the Van Buren County Fair, was past President of the Michigan Association of Fairs, was bank director at the First of America Bank. He was co-founder of Fishers of Men, and was nominated for Hartford Citizen of the Year. Paul was an Army veteran of WW II, as a member of the 386 Bomb Group, and B-26 Historical Society.
     Paul is survived by his wife, Helen, whom he married on February 4, 1967; son, James Richter of Lansing, daughter, Paula Madarik of Hartford, son, Tim (Joyce) Link of Lawrence, and daughter, Ann Link of Dowagiac; grandchildren, Jeff Dorman, Scott Madarik, Janie Culp, JoAnn Link, Julie Pellow, Michelle Flowers, Jennifer Link, Katie Link and Grant Link; 11 great-grandchildren; and a sister, Helen Castor of Lansing. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Shirley in 1964; a son, Dan Link in 1994; sisters, Esther Geisler and Hazel Cunningham; and a brother, Raymond Richter.
     Visitation will be from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, May 7, 2002 at the Calvin Funeral Home Hartford, MI Funeral Services will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday, May 8, at the Hartford Federated Church, of which he was a Deacon, with Pastor Timothy Nyhuis officiating. Burial will take place in Maple Hill Cemetery, Hartford, where military rites will be conducted by VFW Post #1137, VFW Post #6803, American Legion Post #362, and its Auxiliary. Memorials may be made to the church or the International Gideons, of which he was an officer.

Published in the Kalamazoo Gazette May 6, 2002

NOTE:  Paul was a 1936 Hartford High School graduate

  Earl Carlson, 80, born March 12, 1922, died April 24, 2002.  He served in the US Navy during World War 11.
James Richard Drake, 65, of Lawrence, passed away Sunday, February 24, 2002, at home after a long and courageous fight.
     As to his wishes cremation has taken place and a private graveside service will be held at Hill Cemetery, Lawrence.
The family will receive friends at 2 p.m. Wednesday at the Van Buren Sportsman’s Club. The Leonard Funeral Home, Lawrence, is assisting the family.
     Mr. Drake was born Nov. 19, 1936, in Hartford, the son of Richard and Margaret (Haney) Drake, both of whom precede him in passing. He retired from G.M. Corporation in 1999 after 18 years of service. He was employed by Pullman Industries. Mr. Drake enjoyed hunting, fishing, farming and volunteered for many occasions at the American Legion Stoddard Post 93, of which he was a member of the Sons of the Legion.
     Survivors include: his wife, Charlene, whom he married Nov. 4, 1982; daughter, Jami Drake of Lawrence; daughter, Misty Drake of Long Beach, California; son, Ted Sinclair of Hartford; son, Robert Drake, daughter, Shelly Drake; son, David Drake; daughter, Susan Drake; and son, Russell Drake, all of Hartford; several grandchildren; brothers–Thomas Drake of Paw Paw and Gary (Tonya) Drake of Hartford; and numerous nieces, nephews, family and friends.
Delbert “Del” Stanley Westcott, 85, of Tucson, Arizona, formerly of Hartford, passed away Thursday, February 14, 2002, at Tucson Medical Center.
     Funeral services were held at 2 p.m. Monday, at Calvin Funeral Home, Hartford, with Pastor Timothy Nyhuis of Hartford Federated Church officiating. Burial was in Maple Hill Cemetery, Hartford. Visitation was held from noon on Monday until the time of service at the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made to Tucson Medical Center Hospice.
     Mr. Westcott was born March 17, 1916, in Bangor, the son of Floyd and Leona (Stanley) Westcott. Both preceded him in passing. He formerly was employed as a welder for Hughes Aircraft. He was also active in both the Eagles Club and Boy Scouts.
     Survivors include: son, Eugene A. (Joyce) Bonamigo of Portland, Oregon; daughters–Louise (Chuck) Smith of Mayer, Arizona, and Diana (Earl) Meyers of Marana, AZ; four grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
     He was preceded in death by his wife, Ninette, on May 22, 2000; a sister, Dorothea Robinson; and brothers–Howard Westcott and Harold Westcott.
Delores May Dechert, 67, of Hartford, died Tuesday, January 29, 2002, at Bronson Methodist Hospital, Kalamazoo.
A memorial service will be held at a later date. Her cremains will be buried in North Shore Memory Gardens, Hagar Shores. Memorials may be made to the Benevolent Fund at Hope Lutheran Church in Hartford, which she attended.
     She was born April 7, 1934, in Baroda, the daughter of Louis and Elvina (Kotke) Dechert. She was formerly employed at Memorial Hospital (now Lakeland) in St. Joseph.
     Survivors include: four brothers–Merl (Betty) Deckert of St. Joseph, Gerald (Anne) Dechert, also of St. Joseph, Earl (Grace) Dechert of Stevensville, and Elmer (Pauline) Deckert of Hartford; and numerous nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by: her parents; three sisters–Lydia Herman, Ruth Kruger, and Freda Kruger; and two brothers–August Dechert and Walter Dechert.
Rose Beatrix Knytych, 93, of Michigan City, Indiana, formerly of Keeler, died Monday, January 28, 2002, at Life Care Center of Michigan City.
     Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 30, at Calvin Funeral Home, Hartford, with Father German Perez-Diaz of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, Hartford, as celebrant. Burial was in Keeler Cemetery. Visitation was held from 10 a.m. Wednesday until the time of the service. Memorial contributions may be made to the donor’s choice.
     Mrs. Knytych was born February 5, 1908, in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of Anton and Catherine Mertl. She formerly owned Gateway Dairy in New Buffalo and Keeler Grocery. On October 11, 1924, she married Benjamin Knytych.
     Survivors include: a daughter, Rose (Mack) Kaminski of New Buffalo; a son-in-law, Harry Sara-byn of Dowagiac; her grandchildren–Allen (Joann) Kaminski, Kevin Kaminski, Kathryn (Dan) Vanderplough, Susan Moroz, Gary Sarabyn, Randy Sarabyn, Kathryn (Ron) Legus, and Karen (Mark) Reilly; numerous great-grandchildren; and a brother, George (Betty) Mertl of Federal Way, Washington. She was preceded in death by her husband, Benjamin; her parents; and a daughter, Ruth Sarabyn.
Return to top

Information for this web site was gathered from personal interviews, newspaper articles, scrapbooks, personal photo albums, and other documented materials - many available to the public at the Hartford Public Library or Van Buren County Historical Museum.  Please report any typographical errors, updated information, or incorrectly stated information to the webmaster for correction.  Reprinting for personal and instructional purposes is permitted, however, unauthorized commercial reprinting of this information or unauthorized linking to photos-pictures on this site is strictly prohibited without written permission from the webmaster. 

Pass the word on to your friends and family about this site
It's easy...right click on this icon,
and PASTE it into an email to them.

Click on the icon to go directly to the website.
HartfordHistory Icon - Hartford MI

Pearls In Our Past - Hartford Michigan
A Pictorial History of Hartford Michigan
Emma Thornburg Sefcik
Competent Secretarial Service
History of Hartford Michigan
Copyright © 2000 - All rights reserved.

Revised: March 23, 2009