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Life Story / Obituary
Strong, fun-loving, and witty are just a few of the words that come to mind when reflecting on the life of Gary Winkelman, but perhaps what he will be most remembered for is his devotion to the ones he loved most. A lifelong resident of the community he loved, he was known as a perfectionist who could build or fix anything. Gary was a bit free spirited and didn’t hesitate to do things his own way at times. He was blessed to share the majority of his life with his true love, and together they were filled with great joy to witness their family tree blossom to include the children and grandchildren who made them so very proud. Although he will be deeply missed, Gary leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that his loved ones will forever cherish.
The 1930s are primarily defined by the Great Depression that covered our nation and much of the world like a wet blanket throughout the entire decade and beyond. Jobs were hard to find, the unemployment rate soared, and there were few Americans who didn’t feel the stress and strain of the times. Despite the trials around them, Garrett and Effie (Bullard) Winkelman were able to shift their focus to an exciting time in their own lives as they announced the birth of the baby boy they named Gary Edmond on February 2, 1932, in Hazelton Township in Shiawasee County, Michigan. Born on the family farm, he was the oldest of seven children as he was joined in his family by his siblings, Beverly, Wilma, Bob, Shirley, Betty, and Donna. Gary’s father was a mechanic who owned an auto garage on Westnedge in Portage while his mother had more than enough to keep her busy at home.
In many ways Gary was a young boy of his generation. He attended local schools including Portage High School. After graduating from high school in 1950, Gary spent some time working at Shakespeare’s. He remained there until being drafted into the United States Army during the Korean Conflict.
Not to be forgotten during his years in school was Gary’s introduction to the woman of his dreams. Her name was Marieta Barber, and they met while in the ninth grade at the same school. Although they knew each other the entire time, they didn’t start dating until the day of their senior class trip when they went to Mackinac Island. Their love grew, and with a desire to spend the rest of their lives together Gary and Marieta were married on June 26, 1954, right after he returned from the service. Together they welcomed three children including Lori, Bonnie, and Jeff into their hearts and home.
To support his family, Gary was a hard worker throughout his life. Upon returning from Korea, he found that his father had sold his auto repair shop, which was then renamed Bowman Body Shop. Gary did continue to work there for a few years, and from there he worked at several auto body shops during his working days.
Throughout his life Gary was a man of many interests. He loved racing and was a driver of stock cars at Galesburg, did some drag racing and raced duel engine go-karts, and he also drag raced snowmobiles. Gary enjoyed going to motor sports events all over the nation including the Indy 500, NASCAR, sprint car and boat races. His favorite driver was always anyone who drove a Chevy. Although it was Marieta’s job to cook for the family, Gary was known for cooking pistons and chains on the stove to clean them. He was a bluegrass and oldies fan who always seemed to have some sort of music playing. Gary’s children have fond memories of him blaring Chuck Berry on Sundays when they were trying to sleep in. When he could, he loved going to bluegrass festivals. For as long as he was able, Gary loved bowling and often bowled twice a week. Gary and Marieta were avid snowmobilers for 30 years and covered many miles of trails through out northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.
All who knew Gary Winkelman would agree that there was no one quite like him. He was smart and faithful with a generous heart and a willingness to help anyone. Gary was passionate about the people and things he loved, and together he and his wife experienced so many of the best things that life has to offer. Deeply loved, he will be forever missed.
Gary Edmond Winkelman, of Portage passed away on Sunday, February 18, 2018. Gary’s family includes his wife, Marieta; three children: Lori Pike, of OH; Bonnie Keller, of Portage; and Jeff (Julie) Winkelman, GA; three grandchildren: Scott (Kristin) Keller; Christen Winkelman; Nicole Pike; four great grandchildren: Jaydon, Annalise, Nolan, and Cecily; siblings: Shirley Ayers; Donna Busch; Bob Winkelman. Gary was preceded in death by his sisters: Beverly Hemmingway, Wilma Smith and Betty Nugent. A visitation will be held on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1:00pm with a memorial service immediately following at the Life Story Funeral Home, 5975 Lovers Lane, Portage (344-5600). Please visit Gary’s webpage at www.lifestorynet.com where you can sign the guestbook and share a memory. Those who wish may make contributions to the Alzheimer’s Association.