Obituaries — August 26, 2010


Mr. James “Rags” Ragsdale, age 66, of Rockford passed away unexpectedly on Friday, August 20, 2010. He grew up on the west side of Grand Rapids and delivered the newspapers from a very early age (often getting up at 4 a.m.). In 1962, he graduated from Union High School, where he played baseball.

Jim enlisted in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War, specialized in decoding, and left the service with a rank of Sergeant. After the service, Jim attended Grand Rapids Junior College, earning his associate’s degree in business. For many years he worked for Michigan National Bank and ATL Credit Union on 36th Street.

Jim played fast-pitch softball and was the team manager, sponsored by Putt-Putts and The Thunder Chicken. He was a wonderful father who was involved in his sons’ sports, helped with coaching in community games, provided transportation, helped many young men set and achieve lifetime goals, and also taught sportsmanship. His home was always open to everyone; pick-up games were often played on most Sundays. Jim was also an avid golfer.

Jim is survived by his son, Will and Melanie Ragsdale of Rockford; grandchildren, Sophia Ragsdale, Sam Kleynenberg, Eli Kleynenberg; mother, Mrs. Edith Ragsdale; sister, Liz Stoner; nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his father, Cecil, and his son, Curtis Kleynenberg.

The service for Jim was Monday at 11:00 a.m. at the Pederson Funeral Home with Pastor Bruce Wilson officiating. Military honors were under the auspices of the U.S. Air Force with interment in Blythefield Memory Gardens.

Arrangements were made by Pederson Funeral Home, Rockford.


Mr. Roger “Buck” Willett, age 79, passed away on Wednesday, August 18, 2010. He grew up on the family farm at Blakely and M-44 (Belding Road) where he and his brother would herd the cows. In 1950 Roger graduated from Rockford High School. He played guard, played JV basketball, and participated in the FFA.  His parents moved to Cedar Springs when his father became their Chief of Police. Roger drove so he could still attend Rockford High School with this ‘37 Ford and later a ‘39 black Ford. He and Darlene were high school sweethearts who started dating in the tenth grade. After high school, Roger worked for a while and then joined the US Army. They both wrote love letters to one another and became engaged. When Roger came home on furlough, Darlene and he were married at her parents’ home and had a small immediate family reception at Finger’s Restaurant. Together they picked flowers for their wedding from the family garden. Roger and Darlene went to Colorado, and then he was shipped out. After the military, Roger worked for Coit Gravel Company and also worked part time laying concrete. Later, he started his own business, Willett Concrete Company with his sons working with him. Roger was a wonderful husband and father. He was a likeable, quick-witted, soft-hearted guy who started his day with breakfast at Fables. In later years, Roger had daily coffee which he always made at The Trading Post, and with the gang he discussed community issues.  His family was very important to him. He loved attending the sporting events for his children and grandchildren. When needed, he was there to coach baseball. In his leisure time he enjoyed hunting and trips to the casinos. Roger was a member of Bostwick Lake Congregational Church and the Merritt Lamb Post #102 American Legion.

He is survived by his loving wife and best friend, Darlene; children, Brenda and Rick Greenland, Kim and Lynn Jensen, Mike and Laurie Willett, Casey and Kerri Willett; nine grandchildren, Matthew (Heidi) Greenland, Luke (Lisa) Greenland, LJ (Rachael) Jensen, Tressie (Dennis who is now with the military in Afghanistan) Jensen-Moody, Rachael Willett, Brent Willett, Blake Willett, Cassie Cosier, Seth Cosier; four great-grandchildren with the anticipated arrival of the first great-granddaughter, Dylan Greenland, Cody Greenland, Caiden Jensen, Callie Jensen; in-laws, Marian Russ, Neil and Louise DeYoung, Mrs. Myrna DeYoung, Mrs. Gladys DeYoung; nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his brothers, Gerritt (Mary) Willett, Wally (Barbara) Willett, and his granddaughter, Michelle Greenland.

The service for Mr. Willett was on Monday at 11:00 a.m. at Bostwick Lake Congregational Church with Pastor Jason Hubbard officiating. Military honors were under the auspices of the Kent County Veterans Honor Guard with interment in Rockford Cemetery. Those planning an expression of sympathy are asked to consider Bostwick Lake Congregational Church, 7979 Belding Road, Rockford, MI 49341 or Hospice of MI, 989 Spaulding Ave., SE, Ada, MI 49301. Relatives and friends met with the family at the Pederson Funeral Home on Sunday from 3 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m.

Arrangements were made by The Pederson Funeral Home, Rockford.

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