John Leland (Lee) Bogard, 95 years young, of McBain, Mich., died on Nov. 8, 2020, after a valiant battle with COPD and old age. He was born at home on the family farm on Oct. 15, 1925, to Pete and Winnie Bogard, who were a World War I soldier turned farmer and a no-nonsense teacher.
Lee grew up through the Great Depression and World War II. He graduated from McBain Rural Agricultural High School in 1943, where his favorite subject was arithmetic. Being a farmer’s son, he learned from an early age to work hard, to humbly submit to life’s adversity, and see God’s steady hand in life’s fragile beauty. He was well-respected as a good steward to his land and a kind and gentle caretaker of all animals, although he preferred a dog over a cat any given day. He worked the farm until the mid-1980s before retiring. It was recognized by the Historical Society of Michigan as a centennial farm on March 30, 2020, which he was very proud of. Lee enjoyed some part-time work after retirement at the Michigan Livestock Exchange in Marion.
Thought to be destined to a lifetime of bachelorhood, Lee shocked and delighted his mother by marrying Harriet Meyers on June 13, 1958. She was the true love of his life. He would frequently say to anyone who was around, “She is the best thing that ever happened to me.”
Lee loved his family and friends fiercely and enjoyed a good laugh. He never forgot a face or name. His best childhood friend, Don Dieterman, asked to be held back a grade in school just to be with Lee—he was that much fun. His grandchildren adored his affectionate teasing and relished their time with him and Grandma on the farm. He taught them to find contentment with what they had and see the ever-present beauty in all of God’s natural world.
Lee and Harriet began wintering in Florida in 1986 and especially loved the 20 plus years they spent on Lake Placid including this past spring. He enjoyed fishing there (or pretty much anywhere), along with hunting. He was most fond of his wife’s excellent cooking, a rousing card game, ice fishing on Rose Lake, hanging out at the local coffee shop, bowling and tending to his infamous garden.
Lee was a man of faith and a lifelong member of McBain Calvin Christian Reformed Church. He prayed daily and modeled the fruits of the spirit—love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control—well.
Lee was preceded in death by his parents; siblings and their spouses, Maurice and Gertrude Bogard, Paul and Helena Bogard, Edna and Bob Leavens, and Jerry Bogard; nephew Donald Bogard and a grandson, Bryan Alan Bogard. He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Harriet; children Rich (Joyce); Randy; Barb (Ron) Banaszak; and Beverlee (Gary) Henderson; eight grandchildren Stacy, Eric (Danielle), Ashley (David), Ellee, Trace, Claire, Caroline and Marian); and three great grandchildren (Jacob, Lucas and Andrew), as well as numerous nieces and nephews and sisters-in-law Jean Buurma and Gert Bogard.
Burial will take place in Vogel Center Cemetery following a private family service. Condolences and memories may be shared online at www.burkholderfamilyfuneralhome.com The family is being served by Burkholder Family Funeral Home in McBain.
Memorial contributions may be sent to Hospice of Michigan
Special thanks to caregivers of Hospice of Michigan especially Cindy and Amanda.
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