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Obituaries » Henry "Sonny" A. Goebel

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February 2, 1941 - October 14, 2017

Services for Sonny will take place on Monday, October 30, 2017. Burial will take place at 10:00 a.m. at Ft. Custer National Cemetery, 15501 Dickman Rd, Augusta, MI, followed by a memorial service at 11:00 a.m. at Northeastern Baptist Church, 6536 East G Avenue, Kalamazoo, MI. A luncheon will follow in the Family Life Center.

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On Saturday, October 14, 2017, Henry “Sonny” Alfred Goebel passed into the presence of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. While on a leisurely ride in the beautiful Culpeper, Virginia, countryside enjoying the fall colors, he was peacefully taken to his heavenly home. Thankfully for the other people in the car, he was not driving. While the visit to Culpeper did not go the way he thought it would, there is no doubt in his grieving family’s minds that it ended up being the best day of his life so far.

Sonny was born to Henry A. and Alma I. (Conrad) Goebel on February 2, 1941, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Sonny was a lifelong resident of Kalamazoo Township, most of it spent in the neighborhood of his youth. He graduated from Kalamazoo Central High School and worked a variety of jobs after high school, including driving an ice cream truck, which at the time, was a scooter with an attached freezer. In 1963, he was drafted into the United States Army and served as a radio operator in Germany until 1965. His mother once told the story that around the time that Sonny was to arrive home from Germany, his father saw on the news that a ship had gone down and he was afraid it was Sonny’s. He “cried like a baby” at the thought of losing his son, but not for very long, because Sonny came walking down the sidewalk later that day, much to everyone’s relief!

After his time in the service, Sonny worked for SCM Allied Paper, which later became Performance Papers, for 29 years. When Performance Papers closed, he found employment at Eliason. He later went to work at Landscape Forms and worked there until he retired.

In the spring of 1970, Sonny married the love of his life, Frances Jane Sehy. They celebrated 47 years of marriage this year. Not only was he blessed with a beautiful wife, but growing up as an only child, he was blessed to marry into a big family. He recently told his wife that the Duggers had nothing on him because he married into the Sehy family! He loved his brothers- and sisters-by-marriage and his many nieces and nephews. He was also blessed with two daughters whom he loved very much and wouldn’t have traded for all the tea in China. His ten grandchildren were the icing on the cake: “Toady”, “Johnigan”, “Rosie”, “Peanut”, “Gabrowski”, “The Mick”, “Capper”, “Danangel”, “Hooriah”, and “Kaylazoo”, and his two great-grandchildren, “Squirt”, and his little sister who was too new for great-grandpa to have figured out what to call her. Sonny loved a lot of people and he nicknamed many of them! If he nicked your name, please share that with the family in his guestbook or in a note so that they can remember it when life settles down.

Sonny loved riding his motorcycle. He joined the Michigan Patriot Guard Riders when he heard about their efforts to peacefully shield the families of fallen members of the U.S. Armed Forces from funeral protesters. At a time when he felt like he needed to do something, that is one of the things he did, and he did not soon forget, if ever, any person whose funeral he ever attended with the PGR, or the other Riders he met along the way.

The friendship of his brothers and sisters in Christ was very dear to him, especially those at Northeastern Baptist Church, where he has attended for the last few years when he was able. He appreciated the faithfulness of the pastors and teachers in teaching the Bible. Many of the things he learned from them became a source of great comfort to him, especially as his health declined.

Sonny is survived by his loving wife of 47 years, Frances J. (Sehy) “Gramma”, his daughters: Esther “Shorty” (Doug “Doogie”) and Frances M. “Franki”; his grandchildren: Todd, John Walter (Corrie), Brianna, Brittney, Gabriel, Michael, Adelyn, Dana, Ariah, and Kayla; and his great-grandchildren: Prince and Rain. He is also survived by Daniel “Dan’l”, who was like a son to him; he also leaves behind many extended family members, and many friends, young and old, whom he regarded as family.

Sonny was preceded in death by his parents and his never to be forgotten unborn middle child.