Daniel Fillmore, 69, died Monday, Oct. 3, 2022, at home of a rare brain disease. Daniel was born and lived most of his childhood in Watervliet. He spent 35 years of his adult life in Hartford, then the remainder in Lincoln Township.
He attended Watervliet schools and served in the army during the Vietnam War era. In the fall of 1972, he married Rhonda Wallace of Hartford and they remained married for 50 years this month. The pride of his life was their two sons. Seeing his grandchildren automatically lit up his face.
Daniel was a master machinist. He learned this trade from his father and many accomplished tradesmen over the years of his working life. Early on, he was employed at Pioneer Machine Products, Benton Harbor Engineering, Kelm Manufacturing, culminating in owning United Screw Machine Products in Paw Paw for 14 years. He finished his working career as plant supervisor at Accuspec in Stevensville then as machinist at ABC Precision Products. Over these decades, he taught dozens of young men to operate many kinds of machines, respecting the process while maintaining high standards. His sons were his prized pupils.
He supported the Hartford Indians, Detroit Tigers, Detroit Lions, and University of Michigan football. He only owned Ford F-150 pick-up trucks. He coached Hartford summer baseball teams various years from the 1970s for his brothers-in-law (Tim and Jeff Wallace) through the 1990s for his son, Jacob. A highlight was winning the Eaton Park Pony League championship in 1994 along with the Sportsmanship trophy. He was previously a member of the (former) Hartford Federated Church. During his years there, he drove the bus for Sunday School and AWANA, sang in the choir, and was a cook, along with his wife, for the week-long teen summer church camp at Gull Lake for several years.
In his free time, you could find him fishing any time of the year at different inland lakes (his favorite was Shafer Lake) or the Saint Joseph River. He also enjoyed hunting deer and small game until his health prevented it. He was an excellent euchre, pinochle, chess, and ping-pong player. Some of his best memories were playing pool, especially at the Hartford American Legion with many family members and friends.
Those that knew him best knew him to be a quiet, tempered, giving man with a great sense of humor, and practical, principled wisdom. At the end of his life, he fought corticobasal degeneration with courage and grace, always with a sense of humor. He now resides in Heaven, living not by faith but in reality, waiting for his loved ones to join him.
He is survived by his wife, Rhonda; sons, Aaron (Deborah) Fillmore of South Haven, and Jacob (Stacy) Fillmore of Saint Joseph; grandchildren, Tyler Fillmore of Saint Joseph, Claire Fillmore (his best birthday present ever, born on his 50th birthday) and Grace Fillmore both of South Haven, and Lucas Fillmore of Saint Joseph; step grandchildren, Jordan Skinner of Saint Joseph, Lance Novotny of Florida, Logan Novotny of Colorado, and Landon Novotny of Tennessee; brothers-in-law, Rich Wallace and Tim Wallace, both of Hartford; siblings, Roland (Jan) Fillmore, Roxann Fillmore, and Brenda Kinchen; other people important to him, niece, Melissa Wallace and her son, Gabriel of Hartford.
Preceding him in death were his parents, Eugene and Charlene Fillmore; in-laws, Thomas and Verda Wallace; and friend, Jim Zucker,
Arrangements are entrusted to Starks & Menchinger Chapel & Cremation Services. A gathering to honor his memory will be held at a later date. Memorial contributions may be made to Caring Circle Hospice. Those wishing to leave an online condolence may do so at www.starks-menchinger.com.