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Leo Richard Birkholz
March 24, 1937 ~ January 10, 2024 (age 86) 86 Years Old
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Leo Richard Birkholz, a man of unyielding spirit and endearing warmth, passed away peacefully on January 10, 2024, in his hometown of Fennville, Michigan, surrounded by the love of his family. Born on March 24, 1937, also in Fennville, Leo’s journey was one marked by devotion to his country, his family, and the simple joys of life.
Leo’s youth was spent running around the streets of Fennville with his siblings, Robert, Lyle, Lawrence. And later Sally, Carl, Irene, and Dean. His life was a testament to enduring love and commitment, first to his late wife, Barbara Ann, and then to his current wife, Barb, who together with their blended family, created a legacy of laughter and love.
Leo was a proud father to Micheal, Mark (Veronique), and Michele (Gary) Lyons, and a stepfather to Kathy (Scott) Kelch, Jeff (Sara) Thompson, and Christie (Allen) Martin. His life was further enriched by the joy brought by many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews, all of whom he adored. Leo was predeceased by his First Wife, Barbara Ann, brothers Lyle and Lawrence Birkholz, stepchildren Randy Thompson and Alice Cornelissen, nephews Ryan, William (Bill), and Richard (Scott).
He joined the US Navy after high school, serving on the USS Bolster ARS38 as a highly skilled metal smith welder and diver, from 1955 through 1958. He also has the distinction of being an Atomic Vet. His time in the Navy instilled in him a deep sense of patriotism and camaraderie, traits that would remain with him throughout his life.
Leo worked the majority of his career in management at Michigan Fruit Canners in town. However, that didn’t mean you wouldn’t see him bartending at Steven’s hotel every now and again. He served on the Fennville Fire Department for many years, was a past member of the Fennville Rod and Gun Club and was a member of the VFW Post 7911. Leo was always busy doing something and was quick to help a neighbor or friend in need.
Leo was a man who loved deeply and lived passionately. Those who knew Leo would describe him as the epitome of friendliness, passion, and love. His infectious smile and hearty laughter could light up a room, and his generous spirit left a lasting imprint on the hearts of all who had the pleasure of his company. Leo’s zest for life and his ability to connect with people from all walks of life made him a cherished figure in his community.
As we bid farewell to Leo Richard Birkholz, we celebrate a life lived to the fullest, marked by unwavering love, robust laughter, and an open heart. Though he has set sail on his final voyage, his legacy is not merely in the life he lived but also in the lives he touched. He will be deeply missed but never forgotten, as his spirit lives on in the stories shared and the family he so dearly loved.
Visitation will be held on Wednesday, January 17th, 2024 from 6pm to 8pm. And the memorial service will take place on Thursday January 18th, 2024 at 1pm At Chappell Funeral Home 637 W. Main, Fennville, Mi. 49408. Family will proceed to Fennville City Cemetery following service. Family would like you to join them at the VFW Post 7911 in Fennville for a luncheon and to share stories of Leo.
In Lieu of Flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans (Michigan.gov/mvh) or Wings of Hope Hospice in Allegan.