Paul Gerard VanGoethem of Gladstone, MI passed away on December 19, 2022 at the age of 66. Paul was born in Norway, MI on January 19, 1956 to Charles and Rose Marie (Savord) VanGoethem.
Paul enjoyed his younger years growing up in a home that over-looked Vulcan Lake in Norway, MI. This is where Paul learned to fish in the summer and ice fish in the winter with his father, Charlie, and grandfather, Leo VanGoethem. Paul spent many hours in the outdoors hunting, trapping and enjoying swimming in the lake with his mother and siblings. Upon moving to Marshall in southern-lower Michigan, Paul soon discovered Ketchum Park across the street from their home. He spent endless hours there enjoying nature and Rice Creek which ran through it. Paul could be seen pulling a wagon filled with a camping stove and supplies for a great breakfast or lunch so that he could extend his time enjoying the park. Paul made friends with the numerous other kids that lived near this park including John and Robbie Costello, Phil Bonnell, and Mike Neeley to name a few.
Paul was a member of the Marshall High School class of 1974 and joined the U.S. Navy after leaving school. Paul served in the U.S. Navy for 6 years reaching the rank of Chief Petty Officer. Paul and his crew helped to keep the 4 ships that he served aboard afloat as they sailed to Japan, Korea, and one of his last assignments-Vietnam. This ship was sent to help bring our U.S. ground troops home and to assist the South Vietnamese in their evacuation before being taken over by the North. Three of the four ships that Paul served on were the USS Anchorage, the USS Duluth and the USS Richard B. Anderson
Upon his honorable discharge from the U.S. Navy, Paul began working for the San Onofre Nuclear Plant located in San Clemente, California. He worked his way up to a management position in the boiler and condenser department. When a difficult problem arose, Paul and his crew were called upon to solve and repair it. They soon became known as “Paul and his can-do crew.” Paul bought a home in San Diego and his pride and joy was a wooden house boat that he purchased and kept in a slip in the Oceanside Harbor. In his free time, Paul spent many hours working on this boat and fishing in the Pacific Ocean. He was often accompanied by his younger brother, Tony VanGoethem. When Paul’s boat came into dock, everyone knew it was time for a “Wally fish-fry.”
Due to declining health, Paul returned to Michigan and worked several jobs including security at the Air National Guard Base in Battle Creek. He also worked at Renco in Homer, MI until he had to take early retirement for health reasons. While living in Homer, Paul purchased a small farm and raised chickens. He shared the farmhouse with his cat, Tuna. During this time, Paul continued to fish the area lakes, including Lake Michigan and the Detroit River near Lake St. Clair. Paul surprised his nephew, Mike Laupp and niece, Amy Laupp with a fish-fry for their respective H.S. graduation open houses! Paul also LOVED deer hunting and usually bagged a buck every year. He was happy to share the venison with his family and friends. Gotta love Uncle Paul!
A favorite time of Paul’s was what became to be known as “Family Breakfast Club”. For over 25 years, friends and family would meet every Saturday morning at The Pancake House in Battle Creek for breakfast. Always a good time and the group sometimes grew to over 10 to 15 people depending on who was in town. It was like a weekly family reunion and Paul loved it.
As Paul’s health continued to decline, he felt pulled back to the Upper Peninsula so that he could enjoy his retirement years there. Paul found an apartment in Gladstone, MI that over-looked Little Bay De Noc. He purchased a boat and snowmobile for fishing and ice fishing. Living there gave him the opportunity to visit relatives in Hermansville and Norway. He enjoyed stopping in to visit his Uncle Lawrence (TBoy) and Aunt Martha Savord in Hermansville to hear the many stories of years gone by.
Paul’s beloved mother, Rose Marie Cowles, preceded him in death, in December, 2019. In addition, he was preceded in death by his father, Charles VanGoethem (Norway) and step-father, Brian Cowles (Battle Creek), his grandparents, William and Rose Savord (Hermansville) and Leo and Margaret VanGoethem (Norway).
Paul is survived by 3 sisters, Joan VanGundy (NM), Victoria Laupp (Marshall, MI), Faith Ann VanGoethem (Lodi, WI) and 6 brothers, Peter VanGoethem (MI), Tony VanGoethem (Peoria,AZ), Andy Wolcott (UT), Jon VanGoethem (CO), Antony Cowles (IN), and Kevin Noran (MS) His Uncle and Aunt, Lawrence and Martha Savord (Hermansville, MI) Several cousins, nieces, nephews and grand-nieces and nephews.
A prayer and blessing will be held at the grave of Paul’s father, Charles VanGoethem, in Norway, Michigan in their honor.
U.S. Navy Funeral Honors will be presented for Paul Gerard VanGoethem at Fort Custer National Cemetery in Augusta, MI on January 19, 2023 at 2:00 p.m. where Paul will be laid to rest. The Skradski Family Funeral Homes of Delta County are assisting the VanGoethem family.