With a journey that spanned times of war and times of peace, times of plenty and times of want, Walter “Walt” Wedel lived a life of purpose while holding his loved ones near. He loved the Lord, which was easy to see, and his zest for life made him such a joy to be around. Walt was deeply devoted to his family, and he was so blessed to share 63 years with his beloved wife Ann. He was thrilled to witness his family tree blossom to include numerous branches of loved ones who were his greatest source of pride and joy. Deeply loved, Walt will be forever missed.
The 1920s were an exciting time in America. Radios, washing machines, and motion pictures in both color and sound were among the latest advancements while Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb made baseball America’s favorite pastime. Amidst this exciting time was a time of great anticipation in the lives of Benjamin and Mabel (Reebs) Wedel as they were eagerly awaiting the birth of their new baby as September dawned in Fulton, Michigan in 1928. The big day finally arrived on September 9th when the baby boy they named Walter Eugene drew his first breath. He was the youngest of four children as he was joined in his family by his siblings, Wayne, Rex, and Anna. Interestingly, he was nearly 20 years younger than Anna. Sadly, tragedy struck in Walt’s life as his mother died when he was only four. Walt was then raised by his father, and they also had a housekeeper named Alice who was like a grandmother to him.
From the time he was a young boy, Walt was a bustle of activity. His father worked on the family farm that was established in 1876. Walt attended local schools and graduated from Athens High School in 1946. After high school, he was drafted into the Army and served during the Korean Conflict. With his military duties fulfilled, Walt returned home to the family farm.
New and exciting changes were in store for Walt when he met the young woman of his dreams. Her name was Ann Henry, and they met at a square dance in Leonidas in 1954 with Rem Wall singing. Ann was from Climax and just loved the farm. They began dating, and it didn’t take them long to fall deeply in love. With a desire to spend the rest of their lives together, Walt and Ann were married on December 11, 1954. Together they welcomed four children including Benjamin, Cyndi, Tim, and Lori into their hearts and home. Walt was deeply devoted to his family, and he was an active part of his children’s lives. He and his wife had a marriage that was such an inspiration as they were true partners in every way. Although he wasn't the cook in the family, Walt did like to eat. He had a bit of a sweet tooth but his breakfast while working in the fields was always a fried egg on soft toast with ketchup.
With a desire to provide for his family, Walt was known for his strong work ethic. He loved farming, and some may even say that farming was in his blood. Walt’s first tractor came from an auction, which is how it was done in those days. Because the other farmers all wanted Walt to get the tractor, they all put his name in the drawing so he would clearly come out on top. His first tractor was an International tractor, but later he was farming with a John Deere.
Throughout his life, Walt was one to keep busy. He was a sports fan, and there were several sports that he and his wife played together such as bowling, horseshoe pitching, and shuffleboard. They loved traveling abroad to participate in shuffleboard competitions, and these travels took them to places like Canada, Japan, Germany, Netherlands, and Brazil. Walt also served as the president of the USA National Shuffleboard Association for three years. Within his community, Walt served in local government including all positions on the board in Wakeshma Township and also a Kalamazoo county commissioner. Walt and Ann were inducted into the Michigan Farmer’s Hall of Fame as well as the Shuffleboard Hall of Fame. He was also a member of Wakeshma Community Church. A man of faith, Walt’s favorite Bible verse was Romans 8:28. To relax, he could often be found reading farm magazines and local newspapers.
All who knew Walter Wedel would agree that he was an extraordinary man. He worked hard, but he played hard too, and he was practical, intuitive, and knowledgable on a great many things. Walt was kind and soft spoken, and his wit made him a true charmer. He loved his family, and his commitment to the Lord was deeply engraved in his heart. Walt will be lovingly remembered.
Walter E. Wedel, of Fulton, passed away on Monday, June 4, 2018 at the age of 89. Walt’s family includes his wife, Ann; four children: Benjamin Wedel, of SC; Cyndi Frakes, of Vicksburg; Tim Wedel, of Kalamazoo; and Lori (David) Fry, of Fulton; six grandchildren: Jonathan (Michele) Frakes, of Portage; Heather Frakes, of Kalamazoo; Jessica (Randy) Bartholomew, of Fulton; Michael (Catherine) Fry, of OH; Travis (Vanessa) Fry, of Ypsilanti; Levi Fry, of East Lansing; ten great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews. Walt was preceded in death by his siblings: Wayne Wedel, Rex Wedel, and Anna Crotser; and son-in-law: John Frakes. The family will receive friends on Friday from 4 -7 p.m. at the McCowen & Secord Family Funeral Homes, Rupert-Durham Chapel, 409 S. Main, Vicksburg, (269-649-1697). The funeral will be held on Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Wakeshma Community Church, 16732 East UV Ave, Fulton. Burial will be at North Fulton Cemetery. Please visit Walt’s webpage at http://www.mccowensecord.com where you can sign the guestbook or share a memory and/or photo. Those who wish may make contributions to the Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan and/or Wakeshma Community Church.