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Joseph R. Kuratko

Joseph R. Kuratko
/ Categories: Obituary

Joseph R. Kuratko

December 27, 2017

Service Details


Services will be held on Saturday, December 30th, 2017 with visitation starting at 4:00 p.m. and funeral services starting at 5:00 p.m. at Hohner Funeral Home with Pastor Lenny Krebs officiating. A private burial will take place at Poe Cemetery on Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018.


Obituary Notice


Joseph “Joe” R. Kuratko passed away December 27th, 2017 surrounded by his family at Heartland Health Care Center after lengthy health issues. Joe was born August 5th, 1928 in chicago, IL to Joseph and Anna (Blaha) Kuratko. They moved to Three Rivers when he was 4 years old. He graduated from Three Rivers High School in 1947.

He was married to Marena Bloom Kuratko. They divorced. June 26, 1999 he married Peggy Woodall Bell. They spent 5 winters in Mission, Texas.

Joe was a Tool and Die Maker for 61 years at many companies and job shops. He retired at the age of 80 from American Metal Fab - his favorite workplace.

He belonged to the Three Rivers Eagles #2303 and American Legion Post #170. Joe and Peggy liked to go dancing. He liked doing building projects, camping, and fishing.

He leaves to cherish his memory, wife Peggy Bell Kuratko, daughters, Mindy (Greg) Shutes, of Three Rivers, Cari (Mike) Marzolf, of Holland, Stepchildren, Christine (Brent) Russell, Gail (Rog) Smoker, both of Constantine, Lois (Billy) Burandt of Gadsden, AL, Dusty (Gina) Bell of Goshen, IN. Grandchildren, Anna, Olivia, and Russell Shutes; Elsa, Ian, and Owen Marzolf; 19 step-grandchildren, 43 step great grandchildren and 1 step great great grandson. Many nieces and nephews including special niece Cathy (Frank) Sipes and several cousins, special friend, Bill Zuzonic and many other good friends. He also leaves behind his special furry friend of all time, Molly Jo.

Preceding him in death are his parents, sister, and brother in-law, Mildred and Frank Wallack.







 Memorial donations be made out to the American Cancer Society or The Animal Rescue Fund. Envelopes available at the funeral home.


James “Jim” Lemuel Bippus of Three Rivers, 85, passed away in his home surrounded by family on Wednesday, December 20, 2017. Jim had recently been admitted to Borgess Hospital due to complications related to kidney dialysis. When treatments became unsuccessful he determined he would leave this world on his own terms and in his own way. He was an ordinary man that lived an extraordinary life.

Jim was born in Bucyrus, Ohio on September 14, 1932, the youngest child of the late James and Blanch Bippus. When he was seven, his father died and Jim and his five sisters were then raised alone by Blanch, a resilient and strong woman who devoted her life to serving in the Salvation Army.

Jim enlisted into the United States Army. During his service, he earned The National Service Defense Medal. He was honorably discharged from the Army in September of 1955.

Jim attended Ohio State University taking advantage of the G.I. Bill and earned his Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering. During a six month internship at Essex Wire in Fort Wayne, Jim met and fell in love with Vera H. Mohre; they married in 1958. Jim became employed full time at Essex and took a transfer to Three Rivers, with Vera, and his now six children in tow.

The Essex position didn’t work out the way Jim had imagined, so he quit. After a few months of soul searching he saw the for rent sign in the closed Standard Service Station on Michigan Avenue. So Jim took the test to become a certified mechanic and passed it easily with no formal training. He and Vera opened the station and people started coming.

In 1987 he purchased what would become the Bippus Shell Station on the corner of 131 and Michigan Avenue. Many in the community came to know him for his trustworthy service in auto repair. But more than that, people admired the Bippus family: Vera at the cash register and their children pumping gas, helping to fix cars, or doing inventory on New Year’s Day. In 1997 the station was renovated and instead of offering car repair, now had a restaurant called Vera’s, another sign of Jim’s great love for his wife. Over the years Jim’s business became a cornerstone of the community: a place people met for coffee or lunch and were greeted with warmth and hospitality.

In 2012 Jim and Vera were voted Three River’s Citizens of the Year by the Lion’s Club for their many contributions to the town. Jim made doughnuts on Sunday mornings for the Immaculate Conception Church, read to children at Andrews School, mentored a young student, participated in the County Infrastructure Committee, collected turtles for the Lion’s Club Turtle Derby, and taught auto shop to adults. With his snow plow he kept the Immaculate Conception Church and the Lion’s Club parking lot plowed for free, and also routinely plowed out driveways for others.

Jim was a great lover of classical music. He enjoyed reading books by Thomas Clancy, John Grisham, and James Patterson. He also was a great fan of The Wall Street Journal. Jim loved to play cards and was part of a monthly poker group that met for over 30 years. He and Vera also played in a weekly bridge group for about the same number of years. Equally remarkable, Jim and Vera hosted weekly Sunday dinners for family members and anyone else that wanted to stop by. New people in town were warmly welcomed to the table.

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5 comments on article "Joseph R. Kuratko"

Phyllis E Lehman-Ward

Peace be with you Peggy. So very sorry for your loss.


So sorry to hear of Joe's passing. I knew Joe through PWP. We had some good gatherings at his house. Prayers to the family

Sharon (Shutes) Seals Hartselle, AL

Mindy & Family So sorry to hear of your fathers' passing. You will be in our thoughts and prayers. Love to all

Christine Ohlin

Sorry for your loss Peggy. I know Joe is up in heaven with Dick (my dad). They were such good friends since childhood. My thought and prayers are with you.

Joseph Bippus

Joe was always the most pleasant and good natured man you could meet. My condolences to his family for their loss.

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