Jay Wolgast, age 80, was born June 9, 1932 in Leelanau County to William and Martha Wolgast. Jay grew up in Traverse City and graduated from Traverse City High School in 1951 After graduation he joined the U.S. Navy and spent four years in the South Pacific near the end of the Korean War on the destroyer USS Rodgers. In 1956 he was honorably discharged and returned home to Traverse City. Soon after he met his true love, Patricia Neff, and they were married in December of 1956. In June of that year they moved to Three Rivers to help run the family business, Neff’s Greenhouse. During the ensuing years they raised their three children while Jay was also active with the Lions Club and the First United Methodist Church. After leaving the greenhouse business Jay worked for Clarage Fan in Kalamazoo and spent 10 years at GM in Three Rivers. When he retired Jay found time for a new passion: painting. Together with Patti they enjoyed traveling to Florida, loving their three grandchildren and their one-of-a-kind cat, Rosie. When his wife of 50 years passed away in 2006 Jay moved to the Kalamazoo area.
He is preceded in death by his wife, Patricia; his mother and father; a sister and brother; many aunts and uncles. Surviving are his three children, Sara Wolgast Jensen (Gregory), William R. Wolgast (Rebecca) and Mary Wolgast Monk (David). In addition his three grandchildren, William Ryan Wolgast, DeAnna Marija Wolgast and Matthew Jensen; one great-grandson, Max Wolgast.
Visitation will be 4-7 p.m. on Thursday at the Eickhoff, Farrand, Halverson Chapel. Services will be held 11 a.m. on Friday, May 24 at the First United Methodist Church in Three Rivers with Pastor Robert Nystrom officiating. Interment of cremains will follow at Riverside Cemetery with military rites by the Three Rivers American Legion post. Donations may be directed to the Navy, Marine Corps relief fund or the Carnegie Center for the Arts.