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Gwendolyn Marie Winkel, formerly of St. Joseph and Watervliet, passed away from a battle with cancer at Hanson Center for Hospice Care in Stevensville on Sunday, April 18, 2021.

Gwen’s life began on January 23, 1947, at Mercy Hospital in Benton Harbor. Born to Ivan D. and Elizabeth (Betty) (Schommer), she grew up in Watervliet and spent most of her life there. She attended kindergarten at Watervliet’s one-room schoolhouse before moving on to South Elementary School and graduating from Watervliet High School in 1966.

In high school she was a member of the choir and participated in youth group at her church: Salem Lutheran in Coloma. She was confirmed in 1961 and was an active member for many years beyond her youth. Gwen helped with church rummages, was a member of the Quilters Guild, and cleaned the altar weekly by changing out the scarves and caring for the communion ware. She was also a member of the Aid Association for Lutherans where she helped with various events and picnics. After moving to St. Joseph, she joined the Blue Roof Church in 2011, regularly attending services while she could.

Gwen held various jobs throughout the manufacturing community in Southwest Michigan, including Whirlpool and Gast. In 1972 she took a position with Modern Plastics in Coloma. Working there until 2008, she helped make plastic parts for life’s everyday items: toys, wheels, cabinets, car bumpers, and parts for hospital beds and equipment. Outside of work she enjoyed listening to the radio, completing counted cross-stitch projects, and quilting. Over the years she sewed many quilting blocks that were turned into one-of-a-kind quilts. She had beautiful penmanship and could remember numbers, details, and facts better than most.

Gwen was one to persevere and keep going, no matter what life threw at her. She loved to laugh, joke, and she never met a stranger. Being a kid at heart, she loved children and animals. The summer would find her at the Berrien County Youth Fair enjoying animals, eating fair food, and admiring exhibitors’ handiwork; in the fall she would attend local craft shows appreciating the crafters’ works.

Gwen is survived by her sister-in-law, Robin (Sonnenberg) Winkel of Watervliet; her three nieces: Krista (Brett) Totzke of Stevensville, Katy (William) Link of Conklin, and Kala (Brandon) Hoover of Stevensville; and six great-nieces and nephews.

She is preceded in death by her parents Elizabeth (Betty) and Ivan Sr., and her younger brother, Ivan Jr. Memorials may be made to The Blue Roof Church in St. Joseph or Hanson Center for Hospice Care.

Cremation and burial have taken place and visitation and a service will be held at The Blue Roof Church, St. Joseph, on Monday, April 26, 2021. Friends and family may visit from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. followed by a memorial service given by Pastor Hans Frank. Gwen will be buried with her parents at North Shore Memory Gardens in Coloma. Details have been entrusted to Hutchins Funeral Home of Watervliet.


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