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Archived Flag Flying Tributes are organized alphabetically by recipient's last name. Month and year of the tribute can be found at the bottom of each page. Information was current at the time of the tribute.

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Private First Class

John T. Razenberg

John was born May 2, 1923, in Kalamazoo, MI, the son of Adrian and Gertrude (Klimp) Razenberg and was a lifelong Kalamazoo area resident until relocating to live with his daughter in North Salem, IN. On June 13, 1947, he was united in marriage to Josephine (Bonselaar) Razenberg and they were blessed with two daughters, Patricia and Sandra. He served in the U.S. Army during WWII from 1943-45. John was employed as a tool & die maker for 35 years with The Upjohn Company and worked as a funeral assistant with Langeland Family Funeral Homes for over 30 years. He was a longtime charter member of Heritage Christian Reformed Church. Family was a very important part of John’s life. He was preceded in death by his parents; by his wife Josephine Razenberg; by his daughter, Patricia Molenaar and by his granddaughter Amy Triezenberg. Surviving are a daughter, Sandra (James) Laning; a son-in-law, Thomas Molenaar; grandchildren, Jeffrey (Christine) Molenaar, Rebecca (Keith) DeVisser; Michael (Mandy) Laning, Sara Creech, Stacy (Wes) Cook and Lindsay (Gabe) Arellano; great-grandchildren, Rachel, Brittany, Alexis, Evan, Katelyn, Ja’Shaun, Daniel, Preston, Owen, Cameron, Makenna, Celia, Anika and Emory; two siblings, James (Marian) Razenberg and Clarissa Ekema; nieces and nephews.

John was laid to rest with full military honors in Fort Custer National Cemetery, Augusta, Michigan. 

Mr. Razenberg was honored the month of February 2020.

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Walter E. Rist

Mr. Rist was born May 24, 1930 in Lodz, Poland to his German parents Adolph and Else (Behnke) Rist of Lodz, Poland. Walter emigrated from war torn Germany at the tender age of 21 with just a suitcase and a dream of becoming an American and settled in the metro Detroit area. Upon applying for citizenship, he was invited to join the U.S. Army and served for 16 months in the Korean War. He distinguished himself with several decorations and medals, among which are the Korean Service Ribbon with 2 Bronze Service Stars, United Nations Service Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal.

Mr. Rist was married to Sighild Hoch (immigrant from Berlin, Germany) where they had Andrew Rist (Holly) of Kiev, Ukraine, and Audrey Curry (Edwin) of Portage, MI. Walter married Aileen Cote York (children Daniel York (Debbie) of Pottstown, PA and Carol (Lew) Evans of Racine, WI) on May 5, 1966 and combined their families and enjoyed 48 years of marriage.

Walter worked as a toolmaker for Schiller Corporation, Golnick, then partnering with Leslie Fordham, started his own company, Radian Tool & Engineering now located in Troy, Michigan retiring in 1995. Walter stayed connected to his German heritage and was a long-time member and treasurer of the Detroit Schwaben Unterstuezungs Verein, an affiliate of the German-American Cultural Center. He and Aileen were members of First Presbyterian Church of Mt. Clemens where Walter served as an elder, was in the chancel choir and the handbell choir. Walter had a zest for music, boating, biking, camping, and traveling the world. He attended many music concerts of his children and grandchildren. When Walter and Aileen settled in the Kalamazoo area in 2003, they became members of Westminster Presbyterian Church of Portage.

Walter is preceded in death by his wife, parents, and siblings, Theodore (Gertrude) Rist, Elisabeth Rist, Harry (Lily) Rist, and George (Vera) Rist. He is survived by his sister Magdalene (Gerhard) Schiemann along with his children, ten grandchildren, and five great grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews. Walter’s family would like to thank his caregivers at Alamo Nursing Home where he was considered family and delighted the residents and staff with his singing and sense of humor.

Mr. Rist was lain to rest with full military honors in Fort Custer National Cemetery, Augusta, Michigan. 

Mr. Rist was honored the month of April, 2021.

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First Sergeant

John M. Shehigian 

John was born on December 2, 1933 in East Chicago, IN a son of Melkon and Surpouhi (Melkonian) Shehigian. John grew up in East Chicago, graduating from East Chicago Washington High School in 1952. He excelled both in academics and athletics. He lettered in 3 sports and was an Indiana state champion in Wrestling. He was a proud Spartan, graduating from Michigan State University in 1956 with a B.A. in Economics. He was a Spartan varsity wrestler at Michigan State. John served with the US Army from 1957-58 and again from 1961-62. He was a First Sergeant on active duty during the Berlin Wall Crisis in 1962. John was awarded The Army Commendation Medal for performance of meritorious service during peacetime, by Secretary of the Army Cyrus Vance. John joined the Keyser Insurance Agency (now Keyser Insurance Group) in Kalamazoo in 1961 and rose to be President and co-owner of the firm. After selling the company in 2000, John continued to consult to the firm up until his death. John gave generously of his time, business expertise, and wise personal guidance to many civic organizations in Kalamazoo benefiting the children of our community. He had served as president of the Boys and Girls Club of Kalamazoo, president of the board of Sing Out Kalamazoo, president of the troop board for Boy Scout Troop 205 and was a West Portage Little League sponsor and coach. John founded the first junior high wrestling program in Kalamazoo. John cherished and prioritized family time, particularly weekends at the family’s farm near Ionia. In more recent years John loved gatherings of his family at their weekend home in Harbor Springs or winter home in Naples, Florida. John was inducted into the East Chicago Indiana Sports Hall of Fame and was a member of the MSU Varsity S Club. He was a long-time active member of Milwood United Methodist Church. John was preceded in death by his parents and a sister, Mary Wasiak. On December 29, 1956 John married the former Judith A. Harwood who survives. Also surviving are three children and their spouses, James (Elizabeth) Shehigian of Boulder, CO, Thomas (Ruth) Shehigian of Harbor Springs, MI and Dana (Jon) Deimel of Grosse Pointe Farms, MI; eight grandchildren, Nicholas, Alexander, Luke, Sasha, Sarah, Hannah, Adam and Joseph; one brother, Frank (Elizabeth) Shehigian; and several nieces and nephews. 

John was buried with military honors in Lakeview Cemetery, Harbor Springs, MI. 

Mr. Shehigian was honored the month of August 2020.

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FN Navy

Dean L. Smelker

Dean was born January 11, 1940 in Grand Rapids, MI the son of the late Leighton and Lois (Irwin) Smelker. Dean was a veteran serving in the U.S. Navy from 1961-1965. Dean served as an engine mechanic aboard the USS Passumpsic AO-107. The Passumpsic was an Oiler which operated out of the Pacific coast fleet. He was employed for 28 years with the Upjohn Company in the sheet metal shop until his retirement. Dean enjoyed fishing, custom metal work, motorcycles, and custom building anything he could. Dean also enjoyed sharing his talents with his children and grandchildren. On March 20, 1981 he was united in marriage to his loving wife, Joy (Herder) who survives. Also surviving are his children, Scott (Serih) Smelker, Pam Smelker (John Leversee); grandchildren, Nick (Kelli), Ryan, Cody, Travis, Garrett; father-in-law, Vern Herder; sister-in-law, Bev Smelker; brother and sisters-in-law, Jim (Lois) Herder, Mike (Sue) Herder, Dave (Julie) Herder, Doug (Cheryl) Herder; and many nieces, nephews, and cousins. Dean was preceded in death by an infant daughter, Theresa; his parents; brother and sister, Bruce Smelker and Bonnie Misak; and mother-in-law, Lois Herder.

Mr. Smelker was laid to rest with full military honors at Fort Custer National Cemetery, Augusta, Michigan.

Mr. Smelker was honored the month of July 2019.

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Everett Swynenberg

Everett was born April 8, 1930, in Gary, IN to the late Leigh and Donna (Schroder) Swynenberg. Everett was united in marriage to Mary J. Rodgers on June 29, 1952. He served in the U.S. Air Force from May of 1947 until honorably discharged in May of 1950. During his service, Everett was stationed in Occupied Japan as a medic, where he served his entire term of enlistment. He was a longtime member of Texas Corners Bible Church. Among Everett’s several interests were growing roses, cooking and baking bread. He and Mary enjoyed wintering in Florida for several years. Everett retired from The Upjohn Company after 33 years with them and then went to work at Meijer as a greeter before retiring after 17 years. Everett is survived by his wife, Mary Swynenberg; children, Gary (Brenda) Swynenberg, Kathleen Davidson and Bryon (Patti) Swynenberg; 8 grandchildren; 10 great grandchildren; brother-in-law, William Gibbons; and several nieces and nephews. Everett was preceded in death by his grandson, Bryan Joseph; siblings, Kenneth Swynenberg and Ruth Gibbons; and son-in-law, Burl Davidson, Jr.

Mr. Swynenberg was laid to rest with full military honors at Fort Custer National Cemetery, Augusta, Michigan.

Mr. Swynenberg was honored the month of February 2019.

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Air Force

 Carl Thompson

Carl was born in February of 1930, the son of the late Russell and Blanche Thompson. Carl had a passion for music and played tuba in the high school band and viola in the orchestra. In 1946 he was awarded a full scholarship to the National Music Camp in Interlochen, MI. After graduating from Freeport High School, he attended the University of Colorado before enlisting in the U.S. Air Force. Carl earned a Master’s degree in Accounting from the University of Illinois and then started his career with the Upjohn Company. He was a member of the Information Systems and Computer Services group and then later accepted a management position to join the Upjohn Healthcare Services. Carl was a recipient of the prestigious Upjohn Award and retired after 32 years of service with the company. Following his retirement, Carl became the leader of the AARP Tax Aide program in Southwest Michigan for 14 years. Carl was a devoted husband, sharing 65 years with his loving wife, Bernita who survives. Also surviving are his children, Carlene Cantrell, Clark (Laura) Thompson, Cathy Thompson; 3 grandchildren, Katie (Brian) Carpenter, Connor Thompson, Jolene Cantrell; and a great grandson, Christopher Carpenter.

Mr. Thompson will be laid to rest at a later date to be determined by the family. 

Mr. Thompson was honored the month of June 2019.

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Petty Officer 3rd Class

Sonar Technician Submarine 

Joseph W. Thran

Joe was born May 29, 1961, in Grand Rapids, the son of Daniel and Sally (Austin) Thran. Joe grew up in Portage and was a 1979 graduate of Portage Northern High School. Following high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He was stationed in San Diego and served on the U.S.S. Dixon. Duties of Navy STS Sailors in the Sonar Technician, Submarine specialty (STS) operate submarine sonar, oceanographic equipment, and submarine auxiliary sonar and coordinate submarine sonar and underwater fire control, and they conduct maintenance on all related submarine equipment. In addition to being a Sonar Tech, Joe also learned advanced electronics in the Navy.

After his discharge, Joe returned to Portage and worked at Orkin Pest Control. It was during his time there that he met Kathleen “Kit” Warner. Joe met his soulmate in 1983 when he met Kit. They were married August 3, 1985. They were a perfect match and enjoyed nothing more than being together. Their family was complete with their two daughters. His family was his main priority. Joe was very creative and was electronically gifted. He worked for Kalamazoo Amusement and later retired from A.M.I. Entertainment, where he was a technician on the games. He had a knack for working with his hands, whether building things, fixing items, cross stitching and using his creativity with his musical inclination. Joe’s family includes his wife Kathleen “Kit” Thran; his children: Veronica (Anthony) Woods and Jessica (Chris) Ailstock; his grandchildren: Hailey, Hunter, A.J., and Annabelle; his brother Mike (Carol) Thran, and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his brother Doug Thran and his sister Becky Thran. 

Mr. Thran was honored the month of           May 2021

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Private First Class

Leo D. Tyler 

Mr. Tyler was born April 11, 1932 in Kalamazoo to the late Leo and Parlee (Boquest) Tyler. He served in the U.S. Army from August of 1952 until honorably discharged in July of 1954. Leo was united in marriage to Barbara Myles on December 5, 1987. Surviving Leo are his wife, Barbara Tyler; his children, Douglas (Pamela) Tyler, Terry (Glenn) Furst, Tim Tyler; step-daughter, Lorrie Racine; 7 grandchildren, Melissa, Shannon, Jen, Janea, Christin, Doug Jr., and Josh; many great grandchildren; siblings, Florene Weststrate, Charles (Carole) Tyler and Jan Scheurenbrand; and many nieces and nephews. Leo was preceded in death by 19 siblings. The family would like to thank the Alamo Nursing Home for their love and wonderful care of Leo.

Mr. Tyler was laid to rest with full military honors at Mount Ever-Rest Cemetery, Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Mr. Tyler was honored the month of December 2019.

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‘Baby Huey’

Mr. Verhage was born on May 15, 1945 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. On June 24, 1966, he was married to Cynthia A. Wells. Don served in the US Navy Reserve and Michigan National Guard for several years. His primary specialties in the service were as a satellite system operator and food service specialist. Mr. Verhage received several commendations among which are the Professional Development Ribbon (2), Armed Forces Reservist Medal, Army Reserved Component Achievement Medal, and the Broadsword 3GS (12 years). He was employed by General Motors in Kalamazoo for 35 years until his retirement. Don volunteered at American Red Cross and United Way of Kalamazoo. He was a proud member of the N.R.A. (National Rifle Association) and enjoyed fishing and hunting. Don was active in the Oakwood Neighborhood Association helping to improve Kalamazoo’s Oakwood Neighborhood. He was also a member of Kalamazoo County R.A.C.E.S. (Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service) and City of Kalamazoo C.D.A.A.C. (Community Development Act Advisory Committee). Surviving are his wife of 51 years, Cyndy Verhage; their two children: Jennifer Verhage and Jason (Janis) Verhage; three grandchildren: Jonah, Eliana and Maci Verhage; sister-in-law: Pam (Bill) Ingraham; and several nieces and nephews. Preceding him in death were his mother: Leona (Miller) Verhage; brother: Alan Verhage (as a child); and two half-sisters: Barb Laurin and Evelyn Cole. 

Mr. Verhage was entombed with military honors at Mt. Ever-Rest Memorial Park, Westnedge Avenue, Kalamazoo, Michigan.


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Theodore “Ted” Weaver

Ted was born August 30, 1943, in Lancaster, PA, the son of Warren and Ada (Bucher) Weaver. He has been a Kalamazoo area resident since he attended WMU. During the Vietnam Era, Ted served in the United States Marine Corps. Ted received the Schanning Award from the 4th Bridge Company for his work as the company’s training non-commissioned officer. On June 23, 1967, he was united in marriage to Dorothy L. (Wellington) Weaver. He had a servant’s heart and found great pleasure in helping others. Ted was one of the prayerful saints who helped forge the foundation of The Bridge Church. His legacy will be honored there for many years. He was employed for several years as a financial planner, first with John Hancock Financial from 1967 to 1999 and then with The Wiser Financial Group from 1999 until his retirement in 2016. Ted was an avid sports fan, especially for his “PA teams”, the Steelers, Phillies and Penn State. However, he was much more of a fan of his children, grandchildren and great-grandchild. Surviving are his wife of 50 years, Dorothy L. Weaver; daughter Kalee Weaver; son Jeff (Melissa) Weaver; five grandchildren Alexis, Levi, Lydia & Landon Warren and Jackson Weaver; a great-granddaughter Camryn; a brother William (Alice) Weaver; and many other special family and friends. Ted was preceded in death by his father Warren Weaver and by a brother Ronald Weaver, his mother, Ada Weaver passed soon after Ted.

On September 4, 2017, Ted entered into his heavenly home. It is with confidence the first words he heard were, “Well done my good and faithful servant”.

Mr. Weaver was interred with full military honors in his beloved Pennsylvania.

Mr. Weaver was honored the month of August 2019.

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Basil R. Van Linder

Mr. Van Linder was born March 3, 1926, in Plainwell, MI the son of the late Clinton Van Linder and Pearl (Granger) Van Linder-Stevens. During World War II, Basil, who was only 17, joined the Marines, along with his older brother, Ronald, to proudly serve his country. With his Marine brothers, Mr. Van Linder found himself participating in the battle of Iwo Jima where he considered himself lucky to make it home when so many of his comrades did not. While on Iwo Jima, he fought as part of the 3rd Division, 2nd Battalion, 9th Regiment, Easy Company. He also served in Guam and China during his time in the Marine Corps. He loved America and was proud of his service; but like so many others, preferred not to talk about his wartime experiences.

After the war, he attended watch repair technical school and became a part-time watchmaker while his full-time job for several decades was working as a machinist for Winkle Machine Company/Kalamazoo Manufacturing. Basil enjoyed playing the banjo; was an avid golfer; and was a devoted and extraordinary husband and father. He studied Spanish and taught himself how to speak the language. On July 21, 1951, he was united in marriage to his loving wife of nearly 65 years, Dorothy R. Graham, who preceded him in death on February 1, 2016. He was also preceded in death by a grand-daughter, Jaime; brother, Ronald; and a baby sister, Charlotte. He is survived by his children, Howard (Janice) Holcomb, Sharon (Larry) Sincler, Karen (Peteris) Berzins, Marcia (Howard) Snyder; 6 grandchildren, Heather, Matt, Jesse, Miranda, Emilia and Jakob; and several great-grandchildren.

Basil had a wonderful sense of humor. He was a perpetual optimist who was always willing to lend a hand to anyone who needed it. Through his difficult final years he never gave up hope that he would get better. He took everything in stride. He never gave up on rehabilitation after his open-heart surgery or his broken hip, no matter how difficult it became. He was tough both physically and mentally and would always make the best of what life dished out. The event that gave him the most pause was the death of his beloved wife, Dorothy.

Mr. Van Linder was laid to rest beside his beloved wife Dorothy with full military honors at Fort Custer National Cemetery on February 24th of 2017.

Mr. Van Linder was honored the month of April 2018.

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Calvin Vander Kooy

Mr. Vander Kooy was born on September 29, 1929 in Kalamazoo, MI, a son of Jacob and Gertrude (VanSomeren) and had been a lifelong area resident. Calvin entered the US Army in January of 1951. While in service to his country, Mr. Vander Kooy was stationed in Japan, where he drove a tank. He was honorably discharged in December of 1952.

Mr. Vander Kooy retired from Cadillac Uniform Company where he worked in sales and delivery. Calvin was a member of Third Christian Reformed Church, enjoyed traveling and sports. He was preceded in death by his parents, a sister, Marjorie Scheffers and a brother, Vern Vander Kooy. On July 16, 1953 Calvin married the former Marilyn VanderKlok, who survives. Also surviving are two daughters and their husbands, Susan (Roger) Visker of Elwood, IL and Sally (Bruce) Triemstra of Portage, MI; seven grandchildren; sixteen great-grandchildren; a brother and his wife, Donald (MaryJo) Vander Kooy of Kalamazoo, MI; and several nieces and nephews.

Mr. Vander Kooy was laid to rest in Fort Custer National Cemetery with full military honors.  

Mr. Vander Kooy was honored the month of March 2018.

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| Kalamazoo, MI 49007
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