Jan 21st 1930 - Jun 29th 2012
Through the life he lived each day, William Bogema taught us so much about what it means to selflessly and unconditionally love those around us. Together with the love of his life, he raised children of great character who made him so very proud. A more devoted family man would be hard to find as he was always there when they needed him. Bill was a great storyteller, and we never much minded that he always told the same stories over and over again, since we just liked being around him. Although Bill could come off as a bit rough around the edges, inside he had a heart of gold. A blessing in the lives of so many around him, he will be deeply missed.
The decade of the 1930s brought us some of the darkest days we have ever seen as a nation, due to the unrelenting grip of the Great Depression. Jobs were scarce, which left people doing whatever they could to survive. Despite the hardship around them, this decade brought great joy to one young couple from Portage, Michigan, as they welcomed a healthy baby boy into their hearts and home on January 21, 1930. William Richard was the third of six children born to Ed and Elsie (Kuiper) Bogema, and was raised on the family farm alongside his siblings. His father worked in construction and as a mason, while his mother was a homemaker. Both of Bill’s parents immigrated to the United States from the Netherlands as children, and throughout his life Bill’s Dutch heritage was of great significance. As is often the case, farming was a way of life for the Bogema family. As a small child Bill often sat on the tractor alongside his Uncle John while he was out plowing. He attended local schools and went on to graduate from Portage High School in 1947.
As a young man, Bill honorably served in the military not long after he graduated from high school. He was a soldier in the Army, and by the time he was discharged in 1951, he had risen to the rank of corporal.
Not to be forgotten during this time was Bill’s budding romance with the girl of his dreams. Her name was Virginia, and they met while working together at Sealtest Ice Cream in Kalamazoo. After falling deeply in love, Bill married his sweetheart on November 3, 1951, beginning a new chapter in a love story that would span over 60 years. Together they were blessed with three children: Don, Cindy, and Julie. As a father, Bill was loving, caring, and nurturing, and he was always there when his children needed him.
Bill was an extraordinary father in so many ways. He taught his children invaluable lessons, often telling Julie, “You could only fail if you never tried.” Bill was their biggest supporter in whatever they tried their hand at, and a father who taught his children that anything worth doing is worth doing well. Through the life he lived, Bill modeled what it means to treat others with unconditional love and respect in addition to being responsible to God. The Bogema family were active members at church, their faith a vital component of family life. There were also the times he took his children walking through the woods behind their house, identifying all the unseen birds through their bird calls alone. No matter what they were doing, spending time as a family was always of the utmost importance to Bill. Once Don was older, father and son did some trade schools together. Bill also passed on several carpentry skills of his own.
Throughout his life Bill exemplified what it looked like to have a strong work ethic as he gave his work his all every day. He remained at Sealtest for 17 years before settling in the construction industry. Bill was a bit of a perfectionist when it came to his work and had a natural talent for laying tile. He could build nearly anything, and although he never completed his tasks quickly, everything was done his way - right!
Over the years Bill’s life was enriched in so many ways. He and Virginia were thrilled to welcome grandchildren into the mix, and they were a regular part of their grandchildren’s lives. For several years their granddaughter, Krista, visited from Washington State and stayed with Bill and Virginia for a month during the summer. They did all sorts of things like visiting zoos and parks, and they also stayed around home playing, enjoying the outdoors, and just being together. All the grandchildren stayed many nights at grandpa and grandmas house over the years. Later in life Bill was thrilled to become a great-grandfather. Even in his last days he loved visits from his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. In true Bill form the two babies were bouncing around on his hospital bed while he held Hunter’s hand and talked with him. He also enjoyed the companionship of his special white Maltese, Buffy. Although the family had many dogs through the years, it was Buffy who was his dog. Bill was not thrilled when Virginia first took him home, but that quickly changed. Buffy was even entitled to half of Bill’s chair every night while he watched television.
Bill was a man of many interests. He was a member of the Audubon Society. Bill loved photography, particularly bird photography, and would sit for hours in a bird blind taking photos for which he won several contests and awards through the Audubon Society. He loved for fishing and he did a lot of steelhead fishing tournaments with Don. He enjoyed watching farming shows and would always tell us stories, time and time again, of all the animals on the farm when he was growing up. After he retired, Bill drove cars for the auto auction for a time and enjoyed meeting the guys for breakfast before their trips. Bill and Virginia enjoyed camping in their motor home and took a cruise to Alaska in 2006 with Uncle Albert and Aunt Ruth Fritz. Of course they stopped and visited their children and grandchild in Washington on the way. He also enjoyed golfing, going out to eat, working in the yard, and making things in the shop.
All who knew William Bogema would agree that he was truly one of a kind. He had an infectious laugh and was so much fun to joke around with. Life will never be the same without Bill here, but his memory will remain forever near and dear to all our hearts.
William R. Bogema of Vicksburg died on Friday, June 29, 2012. Bill’s family includes his wife, Virginia; three children: Don(Linda) Bogema, of Schoolcraft; Cindy (Jim) Coffey, of WA and Julie (Dave) Zugel, of Plainwell; and six grandchildren and three great grandchildren. He is also survived by two sisters. He is preceded in death by his parents and two brothers and one sister. The family will receive friends on Monday from 5-8 p.m. at the Life Story Funeral Home, 5975 Lovers Lane, Portage (269-344-5600). The funeral will be held on Tuesday at 1 p.m. at the same location. Burial Mount Ever-Rest Memorial Park.
Please visit Bill’s memory page at www.lifestorynet.com, where you can sign his memory book online before coming to the funeral home or make a memorial donation to the American Diabetes Association and/or Rose Arbor.