John Stephen Avila, 87, passed away Friday, January 31, 2014 at Borgess Hospital after a short illness.
John “Johnny” was a first generation American, born at home on July 14, 1926 in Lemore, California. He was the ninth of eleven children born to Antone Silveria Avila and Maria Madelyn Souza, both immigrants from the Azore Islands in Portugal.
On Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 8, 1949, he married Jeanette Rose Schade in San Mateo, California. When they first married John was milking cattle, but then got a job driving dump truck, which later turned into a long career driving a cement mixer.
John and Jeanette had two children, Constance “Connie” Rose and John “Bud” Anthony. In about 1963 the family moved to Redwood City, California.
John always loved ranching, so while in California he rented land in the coastal foothills to raise beef cattle and in 1972 moved to Three Rivers, Michigan to realize his dream of having his own land to raise his cattle. He still was driving “the mixer” all the while but loved “the farm”. In about 1982 they sold the farm and bought about 12 acres near Three Rivers and built a home. John still raised cattle, but fewer, and he “retired” from his love when he was about 80 because “the hay bales are heavier now.”
John was preceded in death by his wife, Jeanette; his son, “Bud”; seven of his siblings; and several nieces and nephews.
He is survived by his daughter, Connie; three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren; John Bates of Lansing, MI, Anthony Bates (Jenn, Zion and Grace) of Los Angeles, CA; and Rebecca (Bates) (Aaron) Sanders of Blackhawk, SD; two sisters, one brother and many nieces and nephews.
Visitation will be held Tuesday evening, February 4, 2014 from 6 to 8 P.M. in the Mater-Ralston Funeral Home, Marcellus, MI.
Mass of Christian Burial will be held at Noon on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church, Marcellus.
The family has requested memorials be sent to the American Cancer Society, the Alzheimer’s Foundation or to the Charity of Donor’s choice.
John loved life, his friends, and especially his family. He loved dancing with his beloved wife, Jeanette and his martini on a Saturday night. He will be lovingly missed by all who knew him. He has gone to be with his beloved wife, Jeanette, who recently passed last November. Rest Well.
Online condolences may be left at www.materralstonfuneralhome.com