Life Story Funeral Homes®
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Life Story Funeral Homes®
The exclusive providers of the Life Story Experience

Charles D. Stefanac

February 17, 2024
Kalamazoo, MI




Charles D. Stefanac, age 86 passed away February 17, 2024, after a long struggle with Alzheimers & Vascular Dementia. Charles was at home under Hospice care until February 6, 2024, at which point he was transferred to Centrica Rose Arbor Hospice Place before passing away peacefully.

Charles is survived by his devoted wife of 42 years Elaine (Waldecker) Stefanac; 2 daughters, Monica Stefanac, and Mary Stefanac Gonzalez; Son-in-law, Javier Gonzalez; 2 grandchildren, Gabriel Gonzalez and Adrian Gonzalez. Sister; Marija (Stefanac) Cestnik; Niece Vilenka Cestnik and Nephew Joe Cestnik. An abundance of Nieces, Nephews and in-laws both in the U.S.A. and Croatia.

Preceded in death by his Father, Ivan Stefanac; Mother, Marija (Slivac) Stefanac; Brother, Ivan Stefanac; Brother, Josip Stefanac; Sister-in-Law, Marija (Kanizaj) Stefanac.

Charles was born in Plesivica Croatia and lived in Europe on a small family farm. With aid and encouragement from his parents Charles desired to come to the United States. He came to Calumet, Michigan at the age of 19 living with his Uncle Charles, his wife and family. Charles worked in the copper mines for 4 years and studied English during the day in high school. In 1962 he joined his brother in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Attended WMU part-time while working full time in various business industries. Worked at Brown Co., Brunswick Corp., Ellingsworth Mfg. & The Upjohn Co.

Charles was a lifelong learner who enjoyed both mental and physical challenges. He earned 3 degrees from WMU, BA in General Business & Language. MD in Industrial Supervision and Vocational Ed.

Charles spent most of his working career at General Motors, Fisher Body (Buick-Oldsmobile-Cadillac), & at GM Hydramatic. Charles retired from GM and then pursued his 2nd Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology and worked for the State of Michigan as an Eligibility Specialist.

Charles believed in focusing on a strong mind, body and spirit. To that end he and his wife Elaine are 50+ year YMCA members. They enjoyed running in their early adult lives running several marathons and ensuring their children participated in YMCA programs and developed healthy life habits. He passed on his love of running, gardening and the outdoors to his children whom he spent a lot of time with playing in nature.

Charles was a Knights of Columbus member for over 60 years, supporting programs and committed to serving the parish, community, youth, families & our Catholic schools. Leading several of the projects, he was very conversational with a sense of humor bringing smiles with his stories.

Charles was a man of integrity. He was devoted to his family. He loved the outdoors; he was a long standing member of Sierra Club Southwest Michigan Group. Supporting efforts to protect the environment, energy efficiency, & recycling. Charles enjoyed spending time in the yard & planting trees.

Charles embodied the ideals expressed by Ralph Waldo Emmerson, "The purpose of life is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.

In accordance with the family's wishes cremation has taken place. A Funeral Mass will be held on Tuesday, April 2, 2024, at 11:00 am at St. Monica Church,4408 S Westnedge Ave, Kalamazoo, MI 49008. A Celebration of Life reception will take place following the funeral mass.

In lieu of flowers, Charles family would like you to consider a contribution to Centrica Care Navigators Hospice, on-line:, 269-345-0273

While at please take time to sign Charles' guestbook and/or share a memory with his family.

The Stefanace family is being cared for by the Avink, McCowen & Secord Funeral Homes and Cremation Society, 129 South Grand Street, Schoolcraft, MI 49087. 269-679-5622.