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Life Story / Obituary
Wayne Waldron liked to joke that, even though he couldn’t remember it, his birthday was the greatest day of his life. Wayne was a man who loved life, and whether it was through his musical talents or his great sense of humor, he lived to share in its joys with his family and friends. He was an avid outdoorsman who loved sports, especially his beloved University of Michigan Wolverines, and a craftsman who enjoyed working with his hands. Above all, Wayne’s love for his family across the generations stands as his enduring legacy.
In 1936, the nation was struggling to emerge from the shadow of the Great Depression and World War II loomed on the horizon. President Franklin Roosevelt won the second of his unprecedented four terms in office, and Germany, Japan, and Italy were solidifying their alliances. Families gathered around the radio to tune in to President Roosevelt’s Fireside Chats and a variety of dramas. In Kalamazoo, Michigan, Leeta Mae and Raymond Waldron welcomed the birth of their youngest son, Wayne, on November 20, 1936.
As the youngest of twelve siblings, Wayne quickly developed an appreciation for the little things and learned to be thankful for what he had. He wore lots of hand-me-downs from his older brothers, and anything new was treasured. With so many mouths to feed, the family was extremely frugal, making the most of every penny. His father, Raymond, worked as a barber in Vicksburg where he charged 25 cents for a haircut and repaired radios in the back of the shop, and Wayne remembered his brothers walking along the railroad tracks, scavenging for coal dropped from the trains to help heat the house. Still, there was the occasional special treat to look forward to, like an ice cream sundae at the drug store, or getting a quarter to go watch movies at the Sun Theater on a Saturday afternoon.
When Wayne’s father died one day at the barbershop, it was a sad time for the family. WWII was raging, and only three of Wayne’s five brothers were able to return from the war to attend the funeral. Later, Wayne would want to join the military himself, but his mother refused to sign the papers. Wayne had a bit of a stubborn streak, and he quit school in the ninth grade because he didn’t like that his class was split up after a new high school was built. Looking back, he wished he had stayed. After he quit school, Wayne began working, first at Prudential Nursery in Vicksburg. He enjoyed the job and loved being outside, but would get laid off in the fall.
In November 1954, Wayne married Louise Russell. The couple had met at a carnival the October before. Over the years, Wayne and Louise married twice and divorced twice, and were together a total of 24 years. Together, they shared the joy of their four children: Michael, Steven, Diana, and Christine. Wayne began work at Durmatallic in December, 1956. He was so nervous on his first day, having never worked in a factory before, that his boss sent him home to calm down. Wayne came back, and would work there as a shipping clerk until he retired in 1992.
Wayne had a number of talents and hobbies, and loved the outdoors. He liked to hunt big and small game up north near Cadillac, and every year he took a week off at the start of bass fishing season. He even won a few tournaments. Wayne also enjoyed other sports. He loved to watch University of Michigan football and basketball, and was a pitcher on his work’s fast-pitch team, where his friends and co-workers would shout encouragement at him: “Pitch it in there, Weiner!” He liked country music, especially Johnny Cash, and was a self-taught guitar player. Even though he couldn’t read music, he was very skilled, and the whole family would gather around and sing along to his playing. A skilled woodworker, Wayne frequently built and refinished furniture for his family for free. Wayne was also known as a jokester. Even in his later years in the nursing home, despite not being able to speak, he’d find ways to tease them and give them a hard time.
More than anything though, Wayne loved and cherished each new generation of the family he and Louise began so many years ago. He will never be forgotten, and will be greatly missed by all those whose lives he touched.
Wayne Waldron, of Vicksburg, passed away on Friday, July 8, at the age of 79 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Wayne was born on November 20, 1936 in Kalamazoo. He was the son of Raymond and Leeta Mae Waldron. Wayne attended Vicksburg schools until age 15; later working for Durmatallic in Kalamazoo until retirement in 1992.
Wayne is survived by his children: Michael of Vicksburg, Steven (Katherine) of Vicksburg, Diana (Alan) Van Ornam of Vicksburg, and Christine (Randy) Mohney of Schoolcraft; 9 grandchildren, 8 great-grandchildren, and 1 great-great-grandchild; and former wife and mother of his children Louise (Russell) Waldron.
The family will receive friends on Tuesday from 4 to 7pm, Life Story Funeral Home, 409 S. Main St, Vicksburg (269-649-1697). A funeral service will be held on Wednesday at 11am also at the funeral home, followed by burial at Vicksburg Cemetery. A luncheon will follow at the United Methodist Church in Vicksburg.
Please visit Wayne’s webpage at www.lifestorynet.com where you can read his life story, sign the guestbook, share a memory and/or photo. Those who wish may make a contribution to the Alzheimer’s Association.