William Lee Sirtola, age 78 of Rock, passed away unexpectedly at his home June 1, 2022.
Bill was born April 9, 1944 in Detroit, the son of John and Ida (Laytonen) Sirtola. He was the fourth of five children. Growing up in Troy, MI, he enjoyed a happy, healthy childhood with loving parents and siblings.
Growing up, Bill was studious and involved himself in many activities. He had a paper route for The Detroit News that he traversed on his Cushman Eagle motorized scooter. He played football and baseball and was a fan of the Detroit Tigers, whose games his older sister Dolores would take him to on occasion. He found that school didn’t particularly challenge him, and he was known to liberally spend his time helping friends with their own work.
When Bill was 21 years old, he traveled to Finland, where he worked at the University of Helsinki. His work had him corresponding between Helsinki and Leningrad in the Soviet Union. In 1965, after concluding his work in Finland, Bill decided to travel Europe further before heading home. This trek saw him hitchhiking from Finland, to Denmark, to the Netherlands, to Belgium, and finally to Germany, where he realized he didn’t have enough money to return home. His father had to wire him the necessary funds to get him home. Upon getting home, Bill enrolled in Michigan State University.
Bill was drafted into the US Army in 1967, interrupting his schooling. He fought in Vietnam until he was honorably discharged in 1969. Though he sustained physical and mental scars from his ordeal, he considered the friends he made in the service to be a second family. He maintained contact with many of his brothers in arms until the day he passed.
Upon returning to the states, Bill resumed the education he started at Michigan State University. He graduated in 1970 with a bachelor’s degree in science. He subsequently earned a master’s degree in education from the University of Southern California in 1988. The irony of being both a Spartan and Trojan was never lost on him.
Upon graduating from MSU, Bill worked as a social worker in Pontiac, MI. He later transferred to the Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Mt Clemens and finally to KI Sawyer. Most recently, he worked as a tutor with Gladstone Area Public Schools. He was known to be kind and understanding and maintained an excellent work ethic. The person opposite him was always his top priority.
During his studies at USC, Bill traveled to Kunsan, South Korea, where he met his wife Micha. They were married in 1987 and their daughter Jennifer was born in 1988 in Kunsan, after which they moved to the US. In Rock, MI, Bill and Micha would go on to have their first son Matthew in 1991 and their second son Daniel in 1995.
Bill enjoyed spending time with his family, be it going on road trips or hosting holiday dinners with his siblings, nieces, and nephews. He was a loving husband to Micha, always surprising her with gifts and taking care of her during her final days in early 2013.
Bill was a voracious reader and his thirst for knowledge only ceased with his passing. He particularly immersed himself in history and politics. He was also an avid hunter, enjoyed attending gun shows, and collected foreign coins as a hobby.
Bill was an active member of the Rock Bible Chapel. He enjoyed attending Bible studies and special events held there. During service, his booming voice ensured that he didn’t need a microphone whenever he gave weekly announcements.
Bill was an active member of the communities of Rock and Gladstone. People that interacted with Bill have used many words to describe him. Among them are humble, intelligent, outgoing, generous, personable, quick witted, and a good storyteller. He couldn’t go a few sentences without inserting a joke in conversation. He had an infectious sense of humor.
As a father, he was strict, but fair. He demanded a lot from his children, but gave infinitely more back to them. He only wanted the best for them.
Bill’s physical ailments never got in the way of being a loving husband and father and an outgoing member of the community. His children have only one regret about him as a father: That “as a role model, he had set the standard impossibly high.”
He will be sorely missed by all who knew and loved him.
Bill is survived by:
Daughter: Jennifer Marie Sirtola of Chicago, IL
2 Sons: Matthew Kim Sirtola of Rock, MI
Daniel John Sirtola of Rock, MI
2 Sisters: Linda Lee DeGarmo of Kiva, MI
Dolores Ann Carnell of Trenary, MI
His Beloved Dog: Bentley Winston Sirtola
In addition to his parents, Bill is preceded in death by:
Wife: Micha (Kim) Sirtola
Brother: Arnold Sirtola
Sister: Vivian Workman
A memorial service celebrating the life of Bill is scheduled for Monday, June 27th at 1 PM at the Rock Bible Chapel. Visitation will start at 11 AM. A luncheon will follow shortly after the service. The Skradski Family Funeral Homes of Delta County are assisting the Sirtola family.
Memorials can be sent to Paralyzed Veterans of America and the Rock Bible Chapel
Rock Bible Chapel: 906-356-6346
Paralyzed Veterans of America: pva.org