Irving "Joe" Thole

May 8, 1947 - December 9, 2015
Vicksburg, MI



Monday, December 14, 2015
4:00 PM to 7:00 PM EST
Life Story Funeral Homes - Rupert, Durham, Marshall & Gren
Vicksburg Location
409 South Main Street
Vicksburg, MI 49097
(269) 649-1697

There will be a Rosary at 6:30 p.m. on Monday

Driving Directions


Tuesday, December 15, 2015
11:00 AM EST
St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church
5855 East W Avenue
Vicksburg, MI 49097
(269) 649-1629
Web Site


At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.

West Michigan Cancer Center
200 North Park Street
Kalamazoo, MI 49007
(269) 382-2500
Driving Directions
Web Site


Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.

Schafer's Flowers Inc.
3274 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
(800) 760-7050
Driving Directions
Web Site

VanderSalm's Flipse
1120 S. Burdick
Kalamazoo, MI 49001
(800) 232-7134
Driving Directions
Web Site

Heirloom Rose
407 S. Grand St.
Schoolcraft, MI 49087
(269) 679-3010
Driving Directions
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


An extraordinary man to know and love, Irving Joseph Thole lived a fun life filled with the people and experiences he loved. He was a humble and hardworking man who was content in whatever life brought, and there was no gray area where Joe was concerned. A devoted family man, he always said that he had three ugly boys and one princess, and he was overjoyed to become a grandfather later in life. Although his life ended too soon, Joe leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that his loved ones will forever cherish.

During the first half of the 1940s, the eyes of the nation were focused overseas as WWII raged on. There was celebrating in the streets when the war ended in 1945, and with the return of countless servicemen and women the baby boom was underway. It was during this transitional time that Joseph and Mary (Leland) Thole were pleased to announce the birth of the baby boy they named Irving Joseph on May 8, 1947, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He was the oldest of three children in his family as he was raised in the family home alongside his siblings, Florence and David. To support their family, Joe’s father worked at Upjohn while his mother did a variety of different jobs through the years. The Thole family was devout in their Catholic faith, and Joe attended local schools.

After graduating from Portage Central High in 1965, Joe went into the Marines. He remained in the Marine Corps until 1971. When he was discharged, he returned home and attended Grand Valley State University and Western Michigan University. While in both high school and college, Joe played tennis.

Not to be forgotten during Joe’s years as a young man was his introduction to the woman of his dreams. Her name was Judy Scharich, and they both attended the same high school but didn’t date while in high school. Joe had to repeatedly beg her for dates. His persistence paid off as she finally accepted. With a desire to establish a life together, the sweethearts were married on September 21, 1968. Together they welcomed four children including Joe, Brian, Shannon, and Kevin into their hearts and home. To support his family, Joe worked at Upjohn and now Pfizer. He was an instrument tech throughout his 35 years there. Joe’s work was exemplarily, and it didn’t go unnoticed as he was awarded with the W.E. Upjohn Award and was on their emergency squad.

Throughout his life, Joe was rarely one to be still. He was an outdoorsman who enjoyed hunting waterfowl and geese, and as he got older he became quite an avid fisherman. Joe loved going to North Dakota to duck hunt and also to Watersmeet, Michigan, located in the Upper Peninsula, to go fishing. He always enjoyed his cabin outside of Ludington, especially when taking his family and friends. Joe was an amazing hockey coach who also coached baseball, softball, and football. There was one time when smoking outside in-between games at Wings Stadium in Kalamazoo that Joe was talking to a guy with gray hair and a beard. When the guy asked what Joe was there for, he told him he was coaching. When Joe asked him his name, the guy told him, Kenny Rogers. Joe then introduced himself by saying, “Joe Thole, nice to meet you.” He was a good cook who only blossomed as he got older. Joe was known for his fish fries, and he loved telling his stories when people were over. He was into sports and liked listening to the Tigers and watching Notre Dame football. During his retirement years, Joe went to work at the Vicksburg Hardware and spent 13 years there. He was always so knowledgable and took great care to help those who had questions. During his retirement years, Joe also enjoyed gardening and spending time outside. He liked reading history and military pieces, and he never could get enough talk radio.

Flamboyant, colorful, and passionate, Irving Joseph Thole had a vibrant zest for life that was contagious. He was passionate about his family and his many interests, and a friend of Joe’s was a friend for life. Joe was faithful and hardworking, genuine and compassionate to all who were near. He leaves behind a timeless legacy that his loved ones will proudly carry on in his footsteps.

Irving Joseph Thole, of Vicksburg died on Wednesday, December 9, 2015. Joe’s family includes his wife, Judy; four children: Joe (Toni) Thole, of Vicksburg; Brian (Jolette) Thole, of Centreville; Shannon (Chad) Coffinger, of Scotts; Kevin (Vanessa) Thole, of Holland; four grandchildren: Taylor, Alex, Zachary, and Joseph; two siblings: Florence (Jeff Dunn) Thole, of Portage; David (Susan) Thole, of Vicksburg. Joe was preceded in death by his parents. The family will receive friends on Monday from 4-7 p.m. at the Life Story Funeral Home, 409 S. Main, Vicksburg (269-649-1697) and on Tuesday from 10-11AM at the church. Rosary will be Monday at 6:30 p.m. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Tuesday, December 15th at 11 a.m. at St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church. Please visit Joe’s webpage on www.lifestorynet.com where you can sign the guestbook, share a memory and/or photo. Those who wish may make a contribution to the West Michigan Cancer Center.