Earle M. Bontrager, age 79, of Centreville, passed away peacefully on Thursday, October 8, 2020 at his home. Earle was born in Elkhart County on April 8, 1941, a son of Menno and Lizzie (Miller) Bontrager. He attended Centreville Schools and went on to serve in the U.S. Army from 1960 to 1963. On June 4, 1971, he married Melanie I. Malnar in Constantine.
Earle worked for the St. Joseph County Road Commission for over 23 years, retiring as an Area Foreman in 2006. He also enjoyed driving truck over the years for local farmers and other companies. Earle was an original member of the group who started the Pee Wee baseball program in the 1970s. You could find him coaching or umpiring baseball and/or softball for a large portion of his life. He also loved shooting pool with his son, remodeling and building projects, playing cards with his friends, finding a great fishing spot, as well as spending time with his grandchildren and great grandchildren. During retirement, he enjoyed traveling to warmer climates visiting his daughter who is also serving in the Army.
Surviving Earle are his wife of 49 years, Melanie I. Bontrager of Centreville; son Steven Bontrager of Centreville; daughter Heidi (Anthony) Sabellico of Fort Belvoir, VA; grandchildren Danielle (Matthew) Kirby of Texas, Samantha (Cosme) Arriola of Kentucky, and Morgan Alford of Texas; great grandchildren Prudence, Gideon, Amelia, Waylon Earle, and Reid Kirby, Maximus and Kane Arriola; and sisters Vera (Harvey) Bontrager of Oregon, Naomi Bontrager of Michigan and Amelia (Joe) Yoder of Michigan as well as several nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents Menno and Lizzie Bontrager, foster parents Susan and John Miller, twin brother Merle Bontrager, brothers Jay, Richard, Floyd, and sister Opal Jean Bontrager.
According to his wishes, cremation has taken place. Relatives and friends will be received Friday, October 23 from 5 to 7 PM at Eley Funeral Home in Centreville. Memorial services will be held on Saturday, October 24 at 11:00 AM at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Centreville with Pastor Robert Bartz officiating. Military graveside services will take place at Fort Custer National Cemetery at a later date.
Memorial contributions can be given to Elara Caring Hospice. Online messages can be left for the family at www.eleyfuneralhomes.com.