Where Food, Drinks & Stories Are Shared

Guy DeBoer

June 18, 1956 - May 2, 2024
Plainwell, MI


Celebration of Life

Friday, July 12, 2024
1:00 PM to 4:00 PM EDT
Gull Lake Country Club
9735 West Gull Lake Drive
Richland, MI 49083


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.

Heaven at Home Herkemer Fund
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


Guy Richard DeBoer—girl dad, seafarer, dog lover (he’d say “caninophile”), Green Bay Packers shareholder, and button pusher—shuffled off this mortal coil (he’d approve of that bit of Shakespeare) after a heart attack on May 2, 2024.

“Grandpa Mac” was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on June 18, 1956, to Richard James and Doraldyne Mulder deBoer (later Sachs). Three girls soon followed.

Guy was a proud Dutchman, 100% purebred, whose forefathers had settled the area on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan generations before. The family moved around the Kalamazoo area before settling in Plainwell when Guy was a teenager.

He was a cutup from the beginning.

An obsession with paper airplanes surfaced in elementary school, and repeated trips to the principal’s office didn’t end the classroom air assaults. Guy’s exasperated teacher finally found a partial solution: Every time he had the urge to launch a plane, Guy had to mark a sheet of paper taped to his desk. By the end of the day there would be dozens of marks on the page—and about a dozen completed flights. He was hard to stop.

Guy’s parents divorced when he was 7 and that hard-to-stop little boy would regularly test his mother’s patience as she struggled to raise 4 children on her own. Dory figured it out, working as a home economics teacher and eventually remarrying and becoming the first woman council member in Plainwell. Guy later expressed regret at being so hard on her, acknowledging that he finally understood that she was doing her best with what she had.

His father was a dreamer who pursued anthropological adventures—buying an underwater camera with the hope of becoming a National Geographic photographer in Florida, taking the children to school in a dog sled pulled by the team of huskies he was raising. Richard spent a year with the Inuit people in northern Canada, immersing himself in their culture and learning their language. A feature story about his experience ran in the Grand Rapids newspaper along with a photo of him in a sealskin coat and mukluks.

At Plainwell High School, Guy was chatty—our silver-tongued friend loved $10 words and certainly would prefer “loquacious”—and still full of mischief. Every year without fail on the night before Halloween, he would trek to the opposite side of town to cover a friend’s house with toilet paper.

But he got good grades and in 1974 won a congressional appointment and admission to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York, a shiny prize for a kid who had spent his summers on Lake Michigan with his grandfather and cousins and a posse of aunts known as the Dutch Mafia, and dreamed of seeing the world.

He was a mostly serious student, winning seamanship awards, studying the Bible, and preferring the gentle strains of the Carpenters and Olivia Newton-John to his roommate’s Grateful Dead and Allman Brothers. But he wasn’t above a few antics, including the time he broke his back falling off the administration building roof during a failed attempt to erect a bogus flag, earning him a couple of months in the infirmary and the nickname “Birdman of Wiley Hall.”

After graduating in 1978, Guy spent years crisscrossing the globe, attaining a coveted master license and collecting friends and experiences sailing on merchant ships laden with furniture, ammunition, live shrimp, and more to places like Hong Kong, Saipan, and Singapore. In between voyages, he taught seamanship and navigation classes at the academy on Long Island.

When he had had enough of sea life, Guy settled back in Plainwell and started drilling water wells. He met Tamara and 2-year-old Emily Marie and took on his new roles of husband and father. His took his tiny blond sidekick everywhere with him, showing her off around town and in Green Bay. He showered Emily with love and attention and advice and Packers trivia from the start.

Guy bought a 22-foot sloop he named Emily Marie and took her out on Gull Lake, Lake Michigan, and Lake Macatawa. He began collecting a new set of cherished friends on the internet forum Sailnet, who became a captive audience for his ruminations on seafaring.

The group eventually migrated to Facebook, and there Guy found a wider platform for his always articulate and usually incendiary opinions on his favorite topics—politics, history, media, economics, cars, sports—stirring lively debates among his 1700+ friends daily. He relished his football pools, an excellent vehicle for sharing his deep knowledge of the sport.

He hated Trump and electric cars, loved dogs and pretty women (and Justin Verlander, Aaron Jones, and Ray Nitschke). He balked at a suggestion to try his hand at radio—his booming baritone was well suited to the medium—insisting he was more comfortable expressing his opinion in writing than by speaking. Tell that to anyone who ever tried to get him off the phone in less than an hour.

Guy found God again after he stopped drinking and was quick to defer to a higher power and encourage those around him to do the same. Some of his most eloquent and now poignant musings were words of love and encouragement, with an occasional dash of introspection. “Funny how we always think life will be the same and conversations will always be there for us to have,” he wrote to a friend years ago. “They remain as cherished memories of a long friendship that seemingly had no beginning and hopefully has no end.”

Intelligent, loyal, generous, energetic, passionate, funny, stubborn (he’d prefer “recalcitrant”), our friend was a bit mysterious, too, happy to offer a well-informed opinion about, well, anything but himself. He’d much rather talk about what you were doing, or weren’t doing but should be doing.

Guy was always up for a road trip—always at night (fewer cars and fewer cops, whom he wasn’t afraid to outrun if necessary), always fast (ETA calculated based on an average speed of 80 mph), and always with a pipe (selected from the hundreds in his collection), fresh tobacco, and his giant Uno-Vac filled to the top with black coffee. He might stay only for breakfast, or for a month.

If you needed help of any kind, you could call Guy day or night—to talk you off a ledge, fix a broken faucet, pick you up at the airport or the police station. (Just remember to buckle up if he’s giving you a ride.)

If your well ran dry, Guy would make sure you had water, regardless of your ability to pay for his professional services.

If you wanted to pull a prank, Guy was right there with you, scaling a fence and fishing trout out of a tank at a hatchery and cooking them up for dinner.

He was hard to stop.

Guy loved hard and worked hard and didn’t plan to stop. He hadn’t sailed in a few years but was working to get the Emily Marie back in the water so he could sail again with his daughter and grandchildren—and so many other loved ones who would jump at the chance.

Crossing the Bar

Sunset and evening star,

And one clear call for me!

And may there be no moaning of the bar,

When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,

Too full for sound and foam,

When that which drew from out the boundless deep

Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,

And after that the dark!

And may there be no sadness of farewell,

When I embark;

For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place

The flood may bear me far,

I hope to see my Pilot face to face

When I have crost the bar.

—Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1889

Guy was preceded in death by his parents; his stepfather, Ronald A. “Mike” Sachs; his stepbrother, Steven L. Sachs; and his canine companions Mac and Hank.

He is survived by his daughter, Emily Marie Maja (Ergys); his grandchildren, Lucas Turanzas and Eris Maja; his sisters, Susan DeBoer, Jennifer DeBoer (Randy Olson), and Mary deBoer Morales (Nelson); his half-brother, Richard James deBoer; his stepsister, Karen Sachs-Berneis; his stepmother, Patricia Butchbaker; his maternal aunt Sidne Jane Weis; his sister-in-law, Nadine “Pepper” Sachs; and his canine companion, Jake.

Donations in his Guy’s memory may be made to Heaven at Home Herkemer Fund at


Family and friends are invited to join a celebration of Guy’s life on Friday, July 12, from 1 to 4 p.m. at Gull Lake Country Club, 9735 West Gull Lake Drive, Richland, MI 49083