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Life Story / Obituary
All who knew William Rantz would agree that he was an extraordinary man to know and love. He worked hard in everything he did, his work ethic an inspiration to those around him. Bill was a loving and devoted family man, and there was nothing he treasured more than witnessing his family tree blossom to include the children and grandchildren he adored. Described as one of the kindest people around, he was the sort of person who would do whatever he could to bless others. Life will never be the same without Bill here, but he leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that his loved ones will forever hold near and dear to their hearts. ‘
During the first half of the 1940s, the eyes of our nation were focused overseas while WWII gained momentum. Although we were neutral for a time, that came to an end after the vicious attack on our naval base in Pearl Harbor left us with no choice but to declare war the very next day. There was dancing in the streets when the war came to an end in August of 1945. It was just as our nation was beginning to make the shift to becoming a nation at peace once again that Donald and Lavern (Allen) Rantz were pleased to announce the birth of the baby boy they named William on December 25, 1945. Raised in Shelbyville, Michigan, he was one of six children as he was raised on the family farm alongside his siblings, Evelyn, Janet, Donna, Dave, and Harold. Bill’s father worked as a farmer while his mother had more than enough to keep her busy at home. He learned his strong work ethic as a boy as he learned to drive a tractor when he was only 10. As a student Bill attended local schools including Wayland High School where he played football as well as the clarinet in the school band.
Not to be forgotten during Bill’s years in school was his introduction to the woman of his dreams. Her name was Gail, and they were in the same graduating class at school. As the story goes, Gail wasn’t too fond of Bill, but he and a buddy both liked her so they flipped a coin to see who could ask her out on a date. Bill ended up losing the toss so he ended up on a date with Gail’s friend when they went out on a double date. The couples particularly enjoyed going dancing at the Note. William remained persistent, and she eventually agreed to go on a date with him. As fate would have it, they fell in love a short time later. Together they welcomed two children, Mark and Kim, into their hearts and home.
Throughout his life Bill worked hard and gave everything his all. As a young man he served in the United States Navy, spending most of his time aboard the USS Alamo. The primary mission of the ship was to transport Marines around including carrying them to Vietnam. While serving, Bill leaned the skills necessary to work as an electrician.
Someone who preferred to be busy, Bill was a man of many interests. He was a longtime member of Calvary Church of Wayland where he was actively involved in a variety of ways. Bill loved fishing and hunting, often with his friends. A perfect day in Bill’s book would have been a sunny and warm one spent fishing with his friends and then cleaning and cooking the fish to share as part of an amazing meal together. As his family and friends can attest, Bill loved playing cards, and he was a fierce cribbage player, too. More recently, Bill enjoyed a trip to Mexico. When his family grew to include grandchildren Bill was thrilled, and one of his favorite things to do became spending time in the pool with them.
Later in life Bill experienced both peaks and valleys. Losing his son Mark in 2007 was difficult for him, and it made him treasure his family all the more. As he battled with dementia for more than 10 years, the days became increasingly more difficult for Bill.
When reflecting on the life of William Rantz, it is easy to see his spirit of generosity shine through in everything he did. He was there to help someone in need in ways both great and small, and he thrived on taking care of everyone. Bill was honest and the sort of person who always tried to do the right thing. Dearly loved, he will be forever missed.
William Rantz “Bill,” of Shelbyville, passed away peacefully with family at this side on July 11, 2018. Bill’s family includes his wife, Gail; daughter Kim (Joe) Chamberlin; brother Harold (Janet) Rantz; five grandchildren: Matthew Rantz, Lindsey Rantz, Zach Chamberlin, Haylie Chamberlin and Dominic (Ashley) Bushouse as well as several nieces and nephews. Bill was preceded in death by his son, Mark, and four siblings: Evelyn Bowman, Janet Aernie, Donna Rantz and Dave Rantz. Following family wishes, cremation has taken place. A memorial gathering will take place on Monday, July 16 from 4:00 - 6:00 at the Marshall & Gren Chapel of the McCowen & Secord Funeral Home; 120 S. Woodhams St. in Plainwell. Bill served his country proudly in the U.S. Navy. He loved to fish, play cards and lived for his grandchildren. He will be deeply missed.When