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Sullivan Community Church
Life Story / Obituary
Responsible and principled, Edward Dratz was a man who could be counted on to do the right thing. He lived his life according to the Lord’s teachings, and dedicated himself to taking care of his large family. Far from being motivated by a mere sense of duty, however, Edward found great joy in his faith and his family. Blessed with a close and loving marriage, ten wonderful children, and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren, Edward gave thanks every day for the goodness and bounty shown to him by the Lord.
Edward was born on December 6, 1917, in the port city of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. His proud parents were Constantine and Freda Josephine (Brosco) Dratz, a couple whose family tree was rooted in the Ukraine. Edward was the oldest child, and the only son, soon to be followed by younger sisters Helen, Olga, and Naia. Constantine Dratz supported his growing family by working in the lumber industry and then as a pattern maker.
When Edward was only three years old, the family immigrated to the United States, settling down in Muskegon, Michigan. Edward had the typical childhood of a boy growing up in Michigan in the 1920s, and enjoyed ice skating, photography, and tennis. He usually played with his cousins and the other neighborhood boys, and once swam across Muskegon Lake on a dare! Edward was lucky enough to grow up surrounded by his extended family, and had an especially close relationship with his Grandmother Pauline.
The Dratz family attended Calvary Baptist Church, where Edward sang in the choir. Guided and inspired by the lessons he learned there, Edward developed a very strong faith in God – a faith that he would carry throughout his entire life.
Edward attended first Henry Street School, and then went on to Muskegon High School. He was outgoing and social, and participated in many extracurricular activities. His club memberships included the YMCA, the archery club, the Ukrainian Youth Organization, and the Hawaiian Guitar Club. He always looked forward to family gatherings at the holidays, which were a celebration of their Ukrainian heritage and singing together.
Edward graduated from high school in 1935, and found work as a machinist operating a lathe. Not long afterwards, he met a young lady named Ruth Anderson and they were married in 1941. Although their relationship would eventually end in divorce, Edward was blessed by the births of two sons, Michael and Mark. Strict but kind, Edward was a wonderful and committed father.
The year was 1942, and the nation was reeling from the December attack on Pearl Harbor. Edward joined thousands of young men in answering the call to serve their country, and enlisted in the Army Air Force. He served as an aircraft mechanic from 1942 to 1945, during which time he remained in the United States.
A few years later, Edward was leaving Sunday School when a member of the congregation offered him a ride home (he was living with his parents at the time). The good Samaritan’s name was JoAnn Nash, and Edward immediately realized that he wanted to get to know her better. Edward and JoAnn’s new friendship soon deepened into love, and the happy couple was married on February 21, 1953.
Edward and JoAnn settled into married life in a home on Crowley Street in Muskegon. Edward earned a living as a pattern repairman, working for the Campbell, Wyant and Cannon Foundry. As the years went by, Edward and JoAnn’s family grew to include eight children: Rhesa, Paul, Kathy, John, David, Freda, Mary, and Susanna. Loving and affectionate, Edward was very active in his children’s lives. He spent lots of time playing with them, taught them good sportsmanship, and was quick to praise their achievements. With eight children sharing a home, discipline was always an issue – all the kids remember the yardstick with a flyswatter attached to the end that their father used to keep them in line at the dinner table!
Edward believed strongly in the importance of sharing his faith with his children, and led daily family devotions. He was a wonderful storyteller, and during his animated retellings of bible stories it was not uncommon to see neighborhood children slipping in to listen. When the kids were younger, the family belonged to the Baptist church, but later became strong members of the Sullivan Community Church.
In his free time, Edward was an avid hunter and fisherman. He often went hunting with his sons and hunting beagles, where they used both guns and bow and arrow. For fishing trips, he usually took his 12-foot boat out to the Muskegon River. At home, Edward had a weakness for ice cream. The girls all remember Saturday nights spent at home, with their hair in pink curlers, watching TV and eating ice cream. Edward was a little conservative, and always changed the channel if he thought there was too much kissing!
Edward retired from the foundry in 1978, where he had worked for 35 years. Around this time, Edward and JoAnn were delighted to become grandparents. Edward loved being a grandfather, playing ball with the grandkids and teaching them to play chess. Edward and JoAnn had a close and loving marriage, which only grew stronger as the years went by.
About ten years ago, Edward started experiencing memory problems, and was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. JoAnn cared for him lovingly as his health slowly deteriorated, and thanks to her devoted care Edward was able to stay in his home until just two months ago. Even after he moved into an adult foster care home, JoAnn was still at his side every day.
Faith-filled, outgoing, and kind-hearted, Edward was a devoted husband, a loving father and grandfather, and a loyal friend. He will be deeply missed and lovingly remembered by his many friends and family members.
Edward Michael Dratz died surrounded by his loving family on August 25, 2012, at the age of 94. Edward’s family includes his wife of 59 years, JoAnn; his sons, Michael (Angel) Dratz of CA, Mark Dratz of CA, Paul (Julie) Dratz of North Muskegon, John (Margaret) Dratz of Fennville, MI, and David (Cheryl) Dratz of Hamilton, MI; his daughters, Rhesa (John) Martin of Muskegon, Kathy (Matthew) Kollig of Kalamazoo, MI, Freda (Dale) Rodgers of Grand Haven, MI, Mary (Michael) Baldwin of Fruitport, MI, and Susanna (Dick Ghezzi) Dratz of Muskegon; 17 grandchildren; 9 great-grandchildren; and his sister, Olga (Jack) Wiersma of Muskegon. He was preceded in death by his grandson, Stephen Dratz; and his sisters, Helen Baars Kohlbeck and Naia Nelson.
A service will be held at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, August 29, at Clock Chapel – Muskegon. Pastor John Romanosky will officiate. Visitation will be held on Wednesday, one hour prior to the service, at Clock Life Story Funeral Home - Muskegon. Memorials may be made to the Harbor Hospice or Sullivan Community Church. Please visit Edward’s personal memory page at www.clockfuneralhome.com, where you can learn more about his life, share a favorite memory or photo, and sign the online guestbook.