Jo Deane Vekich, age 97, passed away Friday, November 24, 2023. Jo was born in Celina, OH, on August 23, 1926, the daughter of Wilson and Fredonia (Fenneman) Hilgeman. On August 22, 1946, she married Emil Vekich who preceded her in death in 2011. Jo grew up in a family that owned a grocery store, where her mother spent a lot of time working, so it fell on Jo to be in charge at home as the eldest of five children. She also started working at the grocery store herself at an early age. This is where Jo got her strong work ethic. In 1960, Emil and Jo purchased a bar called the Tally-Ho. Over the years they built the Tally-Ho into one of the largest restaurant/night clubs in Kalamazoo. Later, they opened up an ice cream shop and restaurant called the Sugar Shack. It had an old-fashioned atmosphere with home cooking and large portions of ice cream. They also owned a small restaurant called Emil and Jo’s Hut which Jo ran until a heart attack made her slow down a little bit. She and Emil lived on Gourdneck Lake until he passed away. Then she moved into an apartment where she made a whole new group of friends. Jo was active in the life of her church right up until the end. She had served for several years as the chairperson of the Fellowship Committee. Whenever a celebration or funeral was happening at church, Jo was right there organizing the food for the event. Nothing could stop her. She lived life on her terms. Whatever might have come her way, she could find a way around it. She was a force to be reckoned with. Jo never saw herself as being old. She kept busy all the time. There was nothing she enjoyed more than playing cards, especially with her great grandchildren. Jo is survived by her daughter, Christie (Tim) Hunt; grandson, Steven (Rachel) Hunt; great-grandsons, Matthew, Jace; great-granddaughter, Ariella; sisters, Lea (Don) Stearns, Billie (Jerry) Curnow; several cousins, nieces and nephews; and countless friends. Besides her husband, Jo was preceded in death by her parents; son, Emil Joe; sisters, Jean Boyd and Jerry Hilgeman.
A service in witness to Jo’s life and faith will be held on Friday, December 1, 2023, at 12:00 p.m. noon at Lord of Life Lutheran Church, 9420 Portage Rd., Portage. Friends may call on the family one hour prior to the service at the church beginning at 11:00 a.m. Jo will be laid to rest next to Emil at Mt. Ever Rest Memorial Park, South. Memorial contributions may be given to Lord of Life Lutheran Church, or Kairos Dwelling, in c/o the funeral home.