Merlin (Butch) Willey, Jr. passed away Wednesday, April 17, 2019. He was born November 17, 1942 to Edith (Lippold) and Merlin Willey in Cleveland, Ohio. He married his high school sweetheart, Marcy Southworth, in 1965. Together, they raised two children, Keith Willey and Kristine Wexler.
Butch graduated high school from The American Community School in Buenos Aires, Argentina where his father was on an assignment with Ford Motor Company. He received his bachelor’s degree in business finance from the University of Cincinnati in 1965. He pursued a career in international business finance with TRW Corporation in Cleveland, Ohio, which took him and Marcy to Wales and England for 5 years, an experience they relished. He joined Lycoming Engines in Williamsport, PA, for several years before winding up his career working for SPX - Sealed Power Division in Muskegon, MI for 13 years, retiring in 2001.
Butch had many interests and hobbies during his life. He loved traveling and exploring different cultures. He always had his nose in a book, newspaper or magazine. After he retired he took up cooking, trying many recipes and creating soups and stews. He was a super grill master. During the last 10 years of his life he participated in the Grand Haven Community Garden, growing vegetables for his family and friends, and for several food pantries in Grand Haven. He was an avid golfer and spent several seasons as a starter at Spring Lake Country Club. His expertise in finance enabled him to volunteer for several treasurer and finance committee jobs.
Butch is survived by his wife of 53 years, Marcy; children: Keith Willey, Kristine (Ron) Wexler; brother, Larry (Betsy) Willey; brother-in-law, Richard (Teri) Southworth; brothers-in-law, William (Julia) Slebos and Wayne McIntyre; nieces and nephews: Kelly (Jimmy) Duvall, Kim McIntyre, Matthew (Kelley) Slebos, Andrew (Ellie) Slebos, Sarah (Brian) Schnell, David (Kira) Willey, and Dan (Jill) Willey. He was preceded in death by his parents; and his sister-in-law, Lou McIntyre.
A Memorial Service will be held at the United Methodist Church of the Dunes, 717 Sheldon Road, Grand Haven at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 4, 2019 followed by lunch at the church. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Grand Haven Community Foundation, One South Harbor Drive, Grand Haven, 40417 or the Salvation Army Food Pantry, 310 N. Despelder Street, Grand Haven.
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Grand Haven Area Community Foundation
1 South Harbor Drive, Grand Haven MI 49417
Grand Haven Salvation Army - Building Fund
310 N. Despelder Street, Grand Haven MI 49417