Tuesday, April 25, 2017
4:00 PM to 7:00 PM EDT
Life Story Funeral Homes - Betzler
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Where a rosary will be recited at 6:30pm
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.
St. John Bosco Parish
23830 Front Ave.
Mattawan, MI 49071
Great Lakes Hospice
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Generous, kind and good-humored, Phillip Bohnet (Boyer) lived a full life doing what he loved. He very much enjoyed his family and friends, he was a dedicated worker, and he was always busy tinkering or remodeling. Phillip was a loving husband, a devoted father, and a cherished grandfather and friend to many. His legacy will continue to shine as his loved ones hold his memories in their hearts.
The year was 1928, and the decade was still very much in full swing with the notable title, the “Roaring Twenties.” Walt Disney produced and released Mickey Mouse’s debut into the cartoon world with “Steamboat Willie,” while Amelia Earhart became the first solo woman to take flight across the Atlantic Ocean. The world of modern medicine was also changed forever with the discovery of Penicillin, which later created the antibiotics of today. In a world of such amazing discoveries and inventions, Eleanor (Dunn) Boyer was making strides of her own with the birth of her beautiful baby boy named Phillip. He was born on November 11, 1928, in Augusta, Michigan.
Phil would be Eleanor's only child, later to be adopted by Gordon Boyer after his marriage to Eleanor. Gordon happily raised Phil as his own. He spent his childhood doing what most boys living in the country would do. On his Grandmother Dunn's farm, Phil would milk the cows, feed the chickens, and work the farm when he was not exploring and making amazing boyhood memories. As he matured, he attended the Kalamazoo Public Schools where he was the cheerleading assistant for one year at Kalamazoo Central High School. He was not easily able to participate in other sports because his after school jobs kept him extremely busy. He worked at Pecks Drug Store, and at the airport fueling and washing airplanes, checking the oil on the planes, and enjoyed cutting the grass at the airport with an Allis Chalmers tractor. Eventually, he graduated with the class of 1948.
Upon finishing high school, he worked a couple different jobs; he spent about a year in the finishing department at Shakespeare and then also found employment at the Sutherland paper mill in the paper cup department. Then finally, his life started to keep Phil moving with wonder in terms of what the future held for him.
At the beginning of the 50's decade, Phil was square dancing and dedicating his life to his country. While dancing, he met a few notable girls; however, he also joined the Navy which demanded quite a bit of his attention. The Korean War kept Phil busy - he worked as a cook on the USS General C. Morton Battle Ship. He traveled to the Philippines until 1953 and then returned to California where he helped with shore patrol. Though he enjoyed his time in the Navy and on the water, he also had love on his mind. Back home amongst the do-si-do's and twirling his partners, he had enjoyed a double date where he met a girl named Bobbie Thias; however, it was Bobbie's sister, Sue that captured his heart eventually. Sue could not help but notice clues that Phil was a good Catholic boy, for he wore a St. Christopher medal! The two wrote letters while he was away.
When he returned, it was obvious Phil and Sue were meant to be together. Wedding bells rang on July 18, 1953 at St. Peter's Catholic Church in Douglas, Michigan when Phil and Sue exchanged vows in marriage. They celebrated their union with a reception at the Tara Restaurant in Saugatuck. The newlyweds headed west to California for their honeymoon because Phil still had to finish six months with the Navy. In 1954, the happy couple started a family when they welcomed their first precious baby boy named Lawrence.
As soon as they were able, the Boyers moved back home to Michigan and lived with Phil's parents for a few years. Eventually, the family moved to Portage and created their own home on Austin Lake. Phil worked hard to support his family. For 14 years, he worked at Sutherland Paper, and he also found employment as a night manager at McDonald's for several years.
By the year 1966, Phil began a career at Fisher Body (GM) making rocker panels for the Camaro for about a year, and then he switched to the tool crib, and by 1985 he moved to first shift. He stayed with the same company for 32 years and retired on March 31, 1998. He truly loved his job, worked a lot of overtime, and never called in sick.
One by one, Phil and Sue celebrated their growing family. With 13 children, their family was finally complete. Their original home began to shrink as the family got larger, so in 1965, they moved to a new home with more space in Mattawan. This house kept Phil, his wife, and his children very busy. They did not travel much, but Phil always remained constant in his ability to stay busy. He remodeled the house and added on to it as time passed. Many memories were created as the kids helped mom and dad work to make the house a home throughout the years. Soon, they were able to purchase 5 more acres to increase their family plot of land to 10 adventurous acres! With so much land, there was always yard work, so Phil would spend many hours cutting wood with the boys and making sure every inch was properly maintained. The boys also spent days with dad painting the house.
Even after retirement, Phil needed to satisfy the desire to keep active, so he obtained a job working at the Mattawan Hardware Store for a few years. This was a perfect job for him because he loved his tools and helping others solve their various fix-it issues. He took great pride in keeping track of all his tools at home, and his basement was always in order with his tools in their proper spots. His main hobby was tinkering with the house, making improvements, and working with his hands to create something better.
Unfortunately, in February of 1993, the family endured a house fire which destroyed a good portion of their home. For Phil, this provided the opportunity to rebuild again; however, he excitedly kept an eye on the progress of the new house. No matter how busy he was, Phil was forever the supportive dad. He would attend all the kids' sporting events and cheer with gusto.
When Phil needed a break from the house projects, he found many other interests to keep him occupied. He was fascinated with genealogy, which led him to find his biological father in the early 2000's. He was too late in his timing to actually meet him, as he passed away years prior; however, this encouraged Phil to change his name from Boyer to Bohnet.
Phil also enjoyed tinkering with model trains and took interest in real trains as well. The Amish lifestyle intrigued him, so he would sometimes attempt to adopt their accent and mannerisms, and he collected Amish paintings and decorations. Phil loved dogs so there was always a family dog and other farm animals for him to care for as the children grew up. When the rare moments presented themselves, and there was nothing else to do, Phil would watch the "Lawrence Welk Show," and every year, he made it a tradition to see both "Gone With the Wind" and "The Sound of Music." He loved the music of Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers, he enjoyed music sung in German, polkas, and the music of Johann Strauss, most especially his “Vienna Waltz”.
Their home was not a stranger to amazing family gatherings - where many good memories were created with lots of laughter and fun. During Christmas, Phil would not miss the opportunity to add a little humor by placing silly items in stockings or by creating a little holiday-spirited mischief. He could always be counted on to lighten the mood with a joke or a ticklish jab to the side when someone needed to smile and, if all else failed, he would give up his famous "high kick" which was sure to bring a few laughs! Phil was also known to stick-out his false teeth to get a good chuckle. The Catholic faith was important to both Phil and Sue, and they raised their family in their strong values and moral beliefs. Easter was always a special occasion during which Phil would cherish capturing the beauty of his girls and the handsomeness of his sons all dressed up in a photo. Phil continually supported the Thias Family Reunion, held in Holland, Michigan each year and enjoyed his time spent making memories at the reunion.
Amazingly, coming from a family as an only child, Phil and Sue created a beautifully large family. Once their children grew and found lives and love of their own, a new generation was cause for great excitement. Phil and Sue were blessed to become proud grandparents to 33 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren! Phil loved to support them in their school, sports, church, extracurricular activities and co-ed softball games. These precious ones will carry on Phil's legacy in life. He was a generous soul, surprising his kids with his hand-me-down cars and cash. All of them will continue to search for “Grandma’s Money Tree", as he would pluck from its branches and sneak them a little extra spending cash.
Phil and Sue shared 64 years together on this Earth. The image of their strong relationship will always be captured in the minds of his children with their two quick kisses upon greeting one another, and Sue always ready with the newspaper and a cup of coffee for her dear husband. Their committed love is a true inspiration to us all.
Though he started slowing down in the last year of his life, his love for Sue and his family was fierce and ever-lasting. In the loving home of his daughter, Elizabeth, Phil endured the last days of his life. In the company of his family, both physically and in spirit, he peacefully passed away on April 21, 2017. We will seek out peace in each other as we continue to honor Phil and this life he helped create. Our shared memories will live on in our hearts, and he will never be forgotten.
Phil was preceded in death by 2 children: Kathleen Boyer and Phillip Boyer and a grandson, Joshua Boyer. Surviving are his wife, Susanna “Sue” Boyer; 11 children: Lawrence Boyer, Rosemary Blade, Steve Boyer, Teresa Boyer, John Boyer, Mark Boyer, Elizabeth (Paul) Carra, Eleanor Boyer, Nick (Mary) Boyer, Kelly (Tony) Sehy and Maria (Chris) Allen; 33 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren.
Visit with family and friends while sharing food and refreshments on Tuesday from 4-7pm at the Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Dr. Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900 where a rosary will be recited at 6:30pm. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Wednesday 11am at St. John Bosco Church. Burial will take place at St. Mary’s Cemetery, Paw Paw followed by a luncheon in the church hall.
Special thanks to his daughter, Liz, who cared for him in his final days and to his daughter, Teresa, who lived with and cared for Phil for the past 5 years.
Memorial contributions may be made in his name to St. John Bosco Church or Great Lakes Hospice.