mass of christian burial
Friday, February 10, 2023
11:00 AM EST
St. John Bosco Church
23830 FRONT AVE
Mattawan, MI 49071
A lunch will follow in the church hall.
Saturday, February 11, 2023
4:00 PM to 7:00 PM EST
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Where food, drinks and stories will be shared.
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Kalamazoo Coalition for the Unhoused
7396 S. 3rd Street
Mattawan, MI 49071
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Viavi Flower Farm
44566 Paw Paw Rd
Paw Paw, MI 49079
Life Story / Obituary
Reflecting on the life of Patricia “Patty” Yankovich, words such as selfless, loving, and fun come to mind, yet the word that is the most fitting to describe her is spirited. She lived her life to the fullest, taking nothing for granted, and looking for the good in others. Her optimistic outlook and her commitment to her family will be the legacy she leaves behind to her many special friends and loved ones.
Born the second child in a family of five, there was never a dull moment in her childhood. She and her siblings spent countless summer days at their family cabin on Rose Lake in the small town of LeRoy, just twenty miles south of Cadillac. Patty found solace in any amount of time she was near the water. Throughout her years, she gracefully perfected the ability to water ski directly from the dock. Circling the lake and then arriving back to the shore, slipping each foot out of the ski, without even getting wet.
Her father worked as a supervisor at UpJohn and her mother stayed home, raising their family until she later went to work at Oakwood Pharmacy. Any chance they got, they packed up their family Chevy with their five kids, and the family dog, Sport, who once flew out of the open window on “Dead Man’s Curve”...he survived. Many of her favorite memories were the times up at the cabin when there was big family fun to be had. They were known to shoot BB guns at the outhouse, while someone was using it, and definitely found their fair share of mischief on any given day. Back at home on Hughes Street, off Westnedge Avenue, she and her siblings were sure to keep the energy alive in all of their family and social circles.
Social and outgoing, Patty enjoyed the typical interests of the times, but especially loved a good party. A teen model, she often passed for being older than her age. The great advantage was being able to attend the local college parties during her young adult years, throwing several of her own when her parents were away. After graduating from Loy Norrix High School with the Class of 1967, Patty made her way in the world. She attended Kellogg Community College to pursue her interest in art. While at the student union on campus, she met Mike Yankovich, the man who would steal her heart forever. His college buddies challenged him to ask her out and luckily, he didn’t back down. Their first date was out to see the movie, The Graduate, and the rest was history. Smitten by his good looks and charm, the happy couple started skipping classes and having endless fun together. Just three years later, they joined in marriage on September 11, 1970, at St. Augustine Church in downtown Kalamazoo. As newlyweds, they took a romantic honeymoon up to Rose Lake followed by a week at Mike’s family property in the Upper Peninsula. Patty worked at UpJohn until they started their family. Together they raised two endearing children, Heather and Chad, aka Chetski.
As a mother, Patty was very active and involved in her kids’ lives. Supportive and loving, she encouraged them in all their endeavors. Patty was dedicated to giving her children much of the same wonderments of childhood that she enjoyed. She loved to draw all of the neighborhood kids to their family home in the Summer Hill subdivision in Mattawan. At any one time, there could be over twenty kids and neighbors running through their yard spraying one another with garden hoses, having water balloon fights or making plans to steal the freshest batch of strawberry shortcake. Patty loved to encourage them with ideas or common pranks to keep the entertainment going well into the evening. Friday nights were reserved for pizza and bonfires at the end of the driveway. Winter months led to ice skating out back on the ponds and gallons of hot cocoa.
The fuller the house with family and friends, the more fun they had. She was never one to set limits or make a fuss, Patty thrived when things were spirited and vibrant. She brought most of the fun herself. She loved to express herself with art. One way, was decorating a neighbor’s front yard with a toilet filled with flowers. A fan of making others laugh, April Fool’s Day was her favorite. There was never a dull moment with her around.
A highlight of these years with her neighborhood friends, was when they decided to get her back for all the amusement she had given to them over the years. On her forty-fifth birthday, they picked up her car, turned it sideways in her garage, place a blow-up doll in the driver’s seat and filled the rest with popcorn! That car smelled like popcorn for decades. Patty loved to laugh, and boy did she laugh after that one. During these years, she and Mike also hosted several exchange students they called, their “Chosen Ones”. Jim Alauria, Christina Munoz Mir, Sergio Munoz Mir, and Aure Lie Urbano all spent time at the Yankovich house over the years. A lover of all people, the more the merrier was truly her motto. In fact, the home was appropriately called by friends, “The Yank’s House”.
Patty found great joy in her years as a receptionist at a local OBGYN office. Later, she worked in an Ear Nose and Throat Office and her Grandchildren’s Pediatric office until she retired in 2015. She prided herself in helping the families that needed a helping hand. Balancing life before retirement, Patty enjoyed vacationing, gardening, wallpapering projects and spending time with her friends and family. Five couples in their group loved traveling together. Each trip had its own special memories and laughter was had by all. On one occasion, one of her best friends fell into the bushes with her legs above her head. Instead of helping her up, they all took pictures and would later question their laughter over a helping hand for forever. A favorite spot was Sitges, Spain, the home of Christina and Sergio. She and Mike remained very close with each of their “Chosen Ones” over the years; they all argue to this day over who was their favorite.
Always up for togetherness, for a remarkable thirty-three years, she and Mike were founding-friends in a group renting condos in Gulf Shores to be together. Patty was an avid baker and loved to bake banana bread cookies with chocolate chips. She told the grandkids, “Your parents won’t mind, they have protein!” She always made her delicious Spritz cookies at Christmas for everyone. “Oh, I didn’t finish the book” was her usual opening comment at book club. As you can imagine, Patty was there to socialize. In her younger years, when she wasn’t hosting, she enjoyed knitting and basketweaving as well as dabbled in all types of art. The music of Motown, The Righteous Brothers, and an oldies station was usually playing in the background. For relaxation, Patty loved to feed the birds while enjoying their company and always enjoyed the view of the swimming pool and family dogwood tree.
As much as she loved her role as a mother and wife, Patty was delighted when she became known as a Grandma. Blessed with five wonderful grandkids: Ava, Dominic, and Emma, Daniel, and Jake. They loved coming over to swim at her home in the summer and enjoyed her playful energy, as well as her special treats and snacks. She was simply the best. In September 2014, she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Then in December 2019, she developed dementia and her health steadily declined. Just one day after her one last rally, seventy-fourth birthday, she passed away peacefully surrounded by her family, while telling stories of the family cabin, as Patty took her last breath. The family then waited to make sure Patty wasn’t pulling one final prank, enjoying their private time together before sharing the news of her passing. The best way to honor Patty is the next time someone plays a practical joke on you, or you hear something so funny that you laugh until you cry, remember Patty and her genuine and good-natured ways. The family wishes that you feel her soul surrounding you everywhere.
Patricia “Patty” Yankovich is survived by her loving husband, Mike, and her two children; Heather Yankovich (David Grile) and Chad (Cindy) Yankovich as well as her exchange kids, her Chosen Ones; Jim Alauria, Christina Munoz Mir, Sergio Munoz Mir, and Aure Lie Urbano. Also, her cherished five grandchildren; Ava, Dominic, Emma, Daniel, and Jake, and her three siblings; Lynn (Carol) Gildea, Terri Gildea, and Jeff Gildea. Her brother, Mike Gildea preceded her in death. Cremation has taken place. Mass of Catholic Burial will be celebrated Friday (FEB 10) 11AM at St. John Bosco Church, Mattawan. A lunch will follow in the church hall. Patty’s “Party” where food, drinks, and stories will be shared, will be held Saturday (FEB 11) from 4PM-7PM at the Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo, MI 49009 (269) 375-2900. Visit Patty’s webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories, photos, and sign her guestbook. Memorial donations may be made to the Kalamazoo Coalition for the Unhoused.