Willy Alfons Demeulenaere
January 27, 1936 – March 7, 2019
Willy “Bill” Alfons Demeulenaere, age 83, of Hillman, MI passed peacefully at home surrounded by his family, following a courageous battle with metastasized renal cancer.
He was born on January 27, 1936, in Lichtervelde, Belgium to Emiel and Irma (Vandecastelle) Demeulenaere, the youngest of 5 children. In the spring of 1937, the family immigrated to the U.S. when it became apparent that war was once again imminent in Europe. And, indeed the family home was bombed when World War II began.
After arriving by ship at Ellis Island, the family traveled by train to Warren, MI to their farm where they lived for the next 19 years. (With great sorrow the family’s eldest son, U.S. Cpl. Robert Demeulenaere was killed in an Army Air Corp. crash on 12/6/1944.)
On June 18, 1955, Willy and Nancy Julia (Wille) Demeulenaere were joined in Holy Matrimony at St. Clement Catholic Church in Center Line, MI. They were childhood sweethearts and neighbors who went on to celebrate 63 years of marriage prior to Bill’s death on 3/7/2019. They were true soul mates who each described the other as “the only love of my life”.
They celebrated the birth of 4 children: Bruce William (deceased in infancy), Perry Michael Demeulenaere, Janet Lee Demeulenaere, and Andrea Denise Kovacic. Bill was the very hard-working wage earner for his beloved family, and Nancy was a stay-at-home mom for many years.
Growing up, Bill loved his home on the farm with his many animals and pet crows. Animals, butterflies, plants and trees were always his passion throughout life. Hunting, fishing, ice skating, hockey and baseball were important in his earlier years. As an older adult, Bill continued to love all animals and birds and finally becoming a conservationist and never went hunting again. Later, Bill also enjoyed collecting antiques and all types of collectibles.
During his working years in southeastern Michigan, Bill became a union bricklayer/mason after completing 3 ½ years of trade school and being one of the youngest to graduate from the program. Bill and his son, Perry, formed a successful construction company majoring in commercial and larger residential construction, before retiring in December 1995.
Bill took great pride in becoming a U.S. Citizen, at age 21, and sworn in at Mt. Clemens, MI. He always remained a very proud citizen of the United States.
Through the years, Bill and Nancy traveled to many destinations in and out of the U.S. The children accompanied them on many trips while growing up.
Ultimately upon retiring in 1995, Bill and Nancy spent winters at their homes in Naples, FL and Ft. Myers, FL and finally in Lake Park, GA until 2017. At that time, they finally permanently retired to their primary home (since 1983) on Ess Lake in Hillman, MI (Bill always loved this area since he first fished and hunted here at age 15).
Bill leaves to cherish his memory his three children: Perry (Connie), Janet and Andrea, 6 grandchildren, 5 great grandchildren and one soon-to-be born great grandson, Mason Willy Demeulenaere. Also surviving are his only surviving brother, 92-year old Cyriel DeMeulenaere, sister-in-law, Betty Thomas and many loving nieces and nephews. Family was always the light of Bill’s life.
Bill was preceded in death by his beloved parents, Emiel and Irma Demeulenaere, father and mother-in-law, Raymond and Julia Wille, infant son Bruce William, brother Robert and sisters, Celina (Julius) Ryckewaert and Livea (Marvin) Poelke, and sisters-in-law Helen DeMeulenaere and Shirley (Paul) Morin. Also preceded by his nephew and best friend growing up, James Ryckewaert.
Visitation will take place at Bannan Funeral Home, Hillman, MI from 4 p.m.-8 p.m. on Sunday, March 10, 2019 and continue at St. Augustine Catholic Church, Hillman, MI on Monday March 11, 2019 from 10 a.m. until time of Mass of Christian Burial at 11 a.m. with Rev. Fr. Michael Connor officiating. Interment will be at St. Augustine Cemetery, Hillman, MI.
In lieu of flowers, memorials would be appreciated to the Elk Country Animal Shelter, Atlanta, MI or St. Augustine Cemetery Fund, Hillman, MI.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Willy "Bill" Alfons Demeulenaere, please visit our floral store.
Elk Country Humane Society
11484 Youngs Road, Atlanta MI 49709
St. Augustine Catholic Church
Hillman MI 49746