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Life Story / Obituary
Gentle, resourceful, and kind, Andrew Michael Vlasity lived his life with humble determination and faith. A devoted husband of 64 years, proud father, and delighted grandfather, Andy possessed a good sense of humor and a quiet appreciation for his many blessings. Never one to need the spotlight, Andy was contented to quietly tend to his responsibilities and humbly be of service to others. With a pleasant sense of humor and firm resolve, Andy embraced each day as a gift and in so doing inspired others to do the same.
1919 proved to be a year filled with significant events. With the Treaty of Versailles, the year began with the official end of WWI and the creation of the League of Nation, known today as the United Nations. Congress established Grand Canyon National Park, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt married, Daylight Saving Time began in the US, Prohibition came into force with the passing of the 18th Amendment in January, and women finally secured the right to vote with the passing of the 19th Amendment. Home life gained significant improvements as both the rotary telephone and the pop-up toaster were invented this year. It was a time rooted in the warmth of peace and prosperous hope. Nowhere was there more hope than in the Ino, Wisconsin where the Vlasity family celebrated the birth of son Andrew Michael on July 17th.
Growing up in the small rural community of Ino, in Northwestern Wisconsin, Andy enjoyed the comforts of a modest life and the good company of his three older sisters who lovingly doted on their only brother. Andy’s parents, both Slovakian immigrants, worked as dairy and strawberry farmers building their family home on the principles of unwavering faith and hard work.
As a youth, Andy spent a good deal of time enjoying the companionship of his dog, “Dog.” Dog and Andy worked the farm together, and because there was no electricity, Andy painstakingly trained Dog to run to the train and get the paper when the whistle blew. Andy and his sisters attended the local one-room schoolhouse which reflected the humble times and rural community.
When the Depression hit, like many young men, Andy enlisted in the New Deal’s public relief program for unmarried men known as The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). As a member of the Corp, Andy played a significant role in helping the CCC dig canals and ditches, build over thirty thousand wildlife shelters, stock rivers and lakes with nearly a billion fish, restore historic battlefields, and clear beaches and campgrounds.The core’s fundamental values of environmental conservation and good citizenry through vigorous, disciplined outdoor labor reinforced the Vlasity family ideals Andy grew up with and fortified the moral foundation upon which Andy centered the rest of his life.
After completing his service with The CCC, Andy returned home and continued to work the family farm. In 1952, while living in Moquah, Wisconsin, Andy had the good fortune of meeting Susan Misun while attending a community dance. The two began dating and quickly recognized their hearts were destined for one another. On June 20, 1953, the happy couple began their 64-year adventure in a marriage ceremony at Saints Peter and Paul Church in Moquah. After honeymooning up north, Andy and Susan returned to Moquah where they lovingly welcomed the first of their seven children a year later.
During their early years, Andy supported his family by working at a factory in Moquah. In 1962, Andy and Susan chose to move to Portage, Michigan to be near relatives and Andy began working for Miller Lumber Company. Andy worked at Miller until the company closed when he was 65. After a short retirement, Andy returned to part-time work serving another 15 years at Midwest Fasteners. Andy loved his coworkers and his work.
Without a doubt, Andy’s greatest joy was his family. Nothing filled his heart more than spending time playing cards, walking the trails at the State Forest near his Portage home, watching a ball game, or sharing a Snickers Bar with his wife, children, and grandchildren. His favorite games included Garbage, Crazy 8s, and Smear; his team was the Brewers--until the Tigers captured his loyalty; Lawrence Welk and a good polka inspired his feet to tap, and Blackberry Brandy satisfied his insatiable sweet tooth. Andy relished in being the treasured “Unc” to his many nieces and nephews, and he loved to travel, especially to visit his children and attend family reunions, including last year’s in Moquah, WI. Devout Catholics, Andy and Susan explored and celebrated their faith as Charter members of St. Catherine’s in Portage.
While he loved to travel, no place afforded Andy more comfort and peace than his home. It was here that Andy reveled in the time to tinker. Never one to sit still, Andy always had a project going. He loved the challenge of repairing and repurposing and could often be found tinkering on one of the lawn mowers or snow blowers he bought at local garage sales. With inexhaustible resolve, Andy would soon have the formerly useless machine running smoothly and tagged with a for sale sign. Always eager to lend a hand, many family members’ and friends’ homes bear the evidence of Andy’s handy skills.
Loving, gentle, and soft-spoken (unless provoked), Andy supported his loved ones in all their endeavors. With affectionate humor and enduring faith, Andy was a natural leader who generated a sense of calm center and confidence for those he loved. Andy's quiet leadership, unwavering work ethic, and gratitude for the simple things will long inspire those who knew him best. Treasured by many, Andy will be deeply missed by those who proudly carry his legacy forward in their daily lives.
Age 97, died June 21, 2017, in Grand Rapids. Andy was born on July 17, 1919, in Ino, WI. Andy is survived by his wife of 64 years, Susan (Misun) Vlasity; 7 children: Kathy (Tom) Michalak, Betty (Kurt) Dunn, John (Barb), Don (Dian), Ken (Steffanie), Cindy Bown and Phil (Jennifer); 18 grandchildren; 2 step-grandchildren; 14 great-grandchildren and 8 step-great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his three sisters: Julie Hudack, Kaye Vanderleest, and Marie Kluesendorf; a nephew, William Hudack; niece, Linda Reagan; and sons-in-law: Gary Kucinich and Steve Bown. Friends and family can visit on Tuesday from 10-11 AM at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church, where Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11 AM. Following the Mass, food and fellowship will be shared in the church hall. Entombment Mt. Ever-Rest Memorial Park. Memorial contributions may be made to Faith Hospice of Grand Rapids. Please visit Andy’s personal webpage at www.BetzlerFuneralHome.com where you can archive a favorite memory or photo of him and sign his online guestbook. Arrangements by Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive; Kalamazoo (269-375-2900)