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Stephen J. Ketchel

September 13, 1952 February 21, 2020
Stephen  J.  Ketchel
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Obituary for Stephen J. Ketchel

Stephen Joseph Ketchel, a loving father, wise mentor, friend, and role model was born in Detroit on September 13, 1952, to Stephen and Maryjane Ketchel. He slipped away from us on February 21, 2020, surrounded by his family. He married Pamela Figueroa on June 24, 1972, and over their 23-year marriage, they raised 2 children, Heather and Bradley.

From October 1972 to October 1975 Stephen served in the United States Marine Corps and was honorably discharged as a corporal. After attending college, he eventually went on to work as an Engineer, a career in which both his children would follow in his footsteps.

Stephen lived his life to the fullest, backpacking and camping the Porcupine Mountains, Pictured Rocks, Two Hearted River and Tahquamenon Falls in Northern Michigan, Rock climbing in Ohio, and solo backpacking in Kentucky. As a certified diver, his most illustrious trips were diving the Great Barrier Reef and the Virgin Islands. He purchased a 1963 Choi Lee sailboat, full of teak and character, named her “Retention” and began outfitting her for retirement (life aboard and abroad). In 2001 he sailed out of the Hudson Bay, past Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty – taking the Intercoastal Waterway to Florida where he finally retired after the 9 till 5 grind was too much to bear. He used St. Augustine Florida as his ‘home base’. He had many adventures aboard his sailboat. He sailed to Trinidad and made several trips to Marsh Harbor, Bahamas aboard Retention with friends for the winter. While in the Bahamas, he was asked to teach science to some children in a local school, which he was incredibly proud of.

In 2017 he sold his sailboat and retired from his sailing days, in Daytona Beach Florida. In 2019 Steve and his Son Brad started building a cabin by hand in Northern Michigan where he intended to spend summers. An avid photographer, and recent convertee to digital, he often captured images of the places he traveled. Stephen had a big heart and always said, “Family is the only thing worth fighting for”.

Stephen is survived by his daughter Heather, Grandsons Josh and Ben. Son Brad, Daughter-in-law Melissa, and Grandsons Tucker, Braxton, Elliott, Granddaughters Makiah and Keanna, Brother Bob (Barb) Ketchel, Sister Mary Ann (Ray) Bonello, as well as several nieces and nephews. He was proceeded in death by his parents, and Brothers Rick, Dave, and Jimmy.

A memorial gathering with military honors will take place at Great Lakes National Cemetery, 4200 Belford Rd, Holly, on Thursday, March 12, 2020 at 2:30 PM. It is highly recommended that those who want to attend the service arrive at the cemetery between 2:00-2:15 PM, as the honors will start precisely at 2:30 PM.

Previous Events

Memorial Service




2:30 PM 3/12/2020 2:30:00 PM
Great Lakes National Cemetery

4200 Belford Rd
Holly, MI 48442

Great Lakes National Cemetery
4200 Belford Rd Holly 48442 MI
United States

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