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.
Indian Lake Nazarene Camp
8258 Victory Street
Vicksburg, MI 49097
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
There is no doubt that Mike Breneman loved life. Never one to sit still, he lived each day to the fullest. A lover of the outdoors, he spent his time tending to his property and enjoyed hunting over the years. A wonderful husband, father, and grandfather, he leaves behind a beautiful example of selflessly giving and unconditional love to his loved ones over the years. There was nothing Mike wouldn’t do for his kids and grandkids. Deeply loved, he will be greatly missed and fondly remembered by his special friends and family.
His story begins in the midst of the 1930s when the nation was bouncing back from tough economic times. 1936 was the year the Boulder Dam, later renamed the Hoover Dam, was completed. His father, Ralph, better known as “Ponkey”, had worked as a welder on the dam. While living in Porter, Indiana in1939, Ralph and his wife Eileen (Grossnickle) Breneman welcomed home their newborn son, Mickie, on October 8th. Later in life he legally changed his name to Michael, but much of his extended family still refer to him as “Uncle Mickie or Mick”. Born the youngest of four children, his birth brought great joy and happiness to his loving parents.
Mike’s father worked as a timber buyer while his mother stayed home to care for the kids. His siblings; Patsy (“Pat”), Jack, and Devon found their fair share of mischief and kept their mother on her toes. Later, the family moved to Union City, Michigan by the time Mike was a teenager. His first love was the St. Joseph River and considered himself a “river rat”, taking a small boat on long journeys exploring and fishing. He was close with his siblings yet wanted a different life for himself. By the time he graduated from Union City High School, he had his mind set on attending college. Mike enrolled at Western Michigan University. Being the first in his family to attend college, he focused on his studies. Sadly, one night while traveling back home from classes, he was involved in a serious car accident that left him with physical reminders that Mike has carried with him the rest of his life. The accident changed the course of his life forever and taught him never to take a single day for granted. Early in his adult life, he married Janice Zomer. Although they were only married a few years, the two of them welcomed home their two sons, Brian and Jeff.
Family was very important to him. In 1972, he purchased thirty acres of property just outside of Sturgis which became a popular family destination for hunting over the years. Mike planted nearly 40,000 pine seedlings transforming the area into beautiful woodland. In the summer months, he favored spending much of his time on his John Deere tractor mowing trails through the property. Brian and Jeff fondly remember the time they spent together, especially their fishing trips to Thompson Lake and the St. Joseph River. He taught them to live in the moment and to enjoy life to the fullest.
Mike was remarried to MaryAlice Fredenburg and they later adopted two girls. Their marriage also ended in divorce and he was later introduced to his third and forever wife, Anne Wildermuth. He and Anne shared a love of faith and met attending church services. Joining in marriage in 1994, they shared many special moments and memories over the years. They were both fond of traveling but Mike hated to fly. As a result Mike and Anne took many car trips on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Never having a plan or reservations, they just started driving and always found a way to enjoy themselves. Back home, they enjoyed spending time on Indian Lake in Vicksburg. Sharing a love of water, they had talked of plans to one day build a cottage on the Nazarene Campground. Both were interested in antiques, and they also cherished their visits to Shipshewana searching for unique treasures over the years. In addition to antiques, Mike had a strong interest in learning everything about his ancestry and spent countless hours researching his family history. He was proud to have traced his family back to the 1400s.
Mike was very successful in his career as a teacher. His first job was teaching in a one-room school in Burlington, Michigan. Later, Mike found his true calling while working with special needs children through the St. Joseph County ISD. He had a unique way with the kids, taking genuine interest in them. His kindness and compassion were his legacies for the remarkable twenty-five years he was there. Living only a couple of miles from his work, he enjoyed the luxury of coming home for lunch. Often times, he would fix a bowl of soup and take a short nap before heading back to work. Mike left a lasting impression on many of the former students and their families over the years. Even during his retirement, he would often run into them and they always greeted him with warm smiles and heartfelt thanks for his service during his teaching career.
An exceptionally intelligent man, Mike enjoyed learning about a wide variety of topics. He loved to read up on things before he made a purchase and always had time to get lost in the pages of a classic Louie L’Amour novel. A romantic at heart, Mike was a fan of old classic movies such as Casablanca and the African Queen. All in all, his family meant the world to him and he loved being a grandpa! Although he was the youngest of his immediate family, he was the true patriarch, as many of his nieces and nephews always looked to him for advice and guidance over the years. Described as loving, caring, and immensely proud of his family, Mike leaves behind a rich collection of warm memories for his loved ones to cherish for generations to come.
Michael “Mickie” Breneman (“Pa”), age 82, died suddenly on Saturday, January 1, 2022, at his beloved “Featherstone” homestead. A devout Christian, deeply rooted in his faith, has been called home. Members of his family include his wife, Anne; his two sons, Brian (Rosa), and Jeff (Lisa). His two daughters, Nancy and Tammy, and his cherished grandchildren including Alicia, Maya and Sander. Private services will be held and a larger Celebration of Mike’s life will be held at a later date. Visit Mike’s webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories, photos and sign his guestbook. Memorial contributions may be directed to Indian Lake Nazarene Camp https://www.indianlake.camp/2021campaign.html Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900.