Date of Death: March 25, 2020

Service Details

Because of the coronavirus crisis, there will be no visitation or funeral services at this time. A memorial service will be announced this summer.

Obituary Notice

Ralph Anthony Vogel, Jr., age 94, of Three Rivers passed away on Wednesday, March 25, 2020, at Heartland Healthcare Center in Three Rivers.

He was born July 16, 1925, in Columbus, Ohio to the late Ralph A. Vogel, Sr., and Olga (Valls) Vogel.

He served in the United States Navy during WWII. He had a long career as a mechanical engineer with Essex Wire and United Technologies Corporation, where he secured numerous patents, by himself and with co-workers. All of Ralph’s family, friends, and colleagues relied on his ability to design, build,  or repair anything mechanical or electrical. In his retirement he travelled the world with his beloved wife Sarah, built and flew an Ultralite airplane, and sailed on Corey Lake. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality recognized Ralph for his decades of measuring water clarity at Corey Lake. Having graduated from Ohio State University in the late 1940s, he was a lifelong fan of Ohio State football. He restored, and donated to the City of Three Rivers, a railroad velocipede which had been built at the Sheffield Car Company in Three Rivers in the nineteenth century; this velocipede is currently on display at the local library.

He was preceded in death by his wives Sarah E. Vogel and Mary Ellen Brown and his brother, Arthur Vogel.

Survivors include a son, Terence Vogel and wife Daphne; daughters, Christine M. Horsmon and husband Albert; Kathleen Vogel; Barbara M. Vogel; Lisa M. Sussex and husband Dr. Michael Sussex; a stepdaughter, Kathy L. McDonough; and a stepson, John E. Kroggel and wife Barbara. His eight grandchildren include Charles Vogel, Nik Horsmon, Hannah Rice, Cash Scott, Claire Utrecht, Jolise Kent, Grayson Dudd, and Mina DeBoer. His step-grandchildren are John McDonough, Tom McDonough, Kristofer and Kevin McDonough. He has six great-grandchildren, and three step-great -grandchildren.

Additional Information

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial donations may be sent to Three Rivers Homecare and Hospice, 711 S. Health Parkway, Three Rivers, MI 49093, or the Carnegie Center for the Arts in Three Rivers.

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22 Comments

  1. Mr. Vogel’s passing is a huge loss for our community. A man of so many talents. Several of his talents were with the Three Rivers Community School family. He donated his knowledge over and over to so many of our students who participated in extracurricular clubs over the years. A thank you would never be enough for his contribution to so many.

  2. All of us here at Corey Lake Orchards want to express our sympathy to all of the family for the loss of Ralph. His frequent trips to the orchard will be remembered fondly by all of us, he might win a record for the most frequent trips to buy freshly pressed apple cider! He always had a smile and kind word for everyone, he had two special nicknames for me, calling me Mrs. Green Jeans and the Queen of Green Acres. We shared the same birthday! May he rest in peace. Beth

  3. I have many wonderful memories of travel with Ralph and Sarah. Sailing the British Virgin Islands; flying to Alaska and enjoying panning for gold: our trip to Isle Royale; taking the many switchbacks to get to the bottom of Copper Canyon; a fun time to visit friends in Guanajuato, Mexico. I was so impressed with his enthusiasm to find out how everything worked! And his love and devotion to Sarah throughout their marriage.

  4. I worked with Ralph from about 1980 till he retired around 1990, best I can recall. Before that he worked at Herman Mfg, which was owned by Essex Wire. Herman built a huge amount of machinery used in at least 20 Essex plants from the east coast to California. As an example, one plant in Kendallville, IN had 60 fine wire copper drawing machines about half the size of a car with each machine producing wire at 2 miles per minute. Just for fun calculate how much that is for a week. Ralph was always tweaking those to make a better product. For those that knew Ralph but not Essex, the company, in 1990, processed one million pounds of copper per day seven days a week into wire products. He and George Myers made the daily trip of 80+ miles from Three Rivers to Fort Wayne. I remember him saying his main fear in making the trip was an Amish buggy turning left in front of him because “the horse knows where the barn is even if the driver is asleep”. I still chuckle about that one. He was honest and a fun person to work with. We will always remember you Ralph.
    Jim Gerencser

  5. God Bless and A Heartfelt Thank YOU, Ralph for your service in WWII, The USA would NOT be as it is today. I treasure the freedoms for which YOU fought. “Fair winds and following seas”. YOU were ONE of the”Greatest Generations”. And Semper Fi. ……….. Sailor.

  6. Ralph’s passing is a great loss to our community, especially Corey Lake. He was a mechanical and electrical genius who was always generous with his time and talents. He could repair or build almost anything and did a lot of work on sailboats for Corey Lake Yacht Club members. He also kept the Yacht Club’s committee boat fueled and running and kept it moored to his dock for many many years. .He designed and built ingenious electrical powered boat lifts for the late Tom Mittler’s two boat houses and many boats. He measured and reported on the water quality of Corey Lake for more than 25 years— a very time consuming job. He fabricated dozens of Secchi discs for MichiganLakes and Streams association members, donating his time for this work. He designed, built, and maintained grills and other equipment for the Peterson drain outlet as well as kept the outlet to Kaiser Lake open. He and Sara generously hosted many Corey Lake Yacht Club events at their lake front home. He will be greatly missed. Unfortunately, We will not see his kind again. Kay & Bill Hokanson

  7. Was saddened to see about Ralph what a great and energetic force of nature he was. A school mate of mine Keith Caudill started out his professional career working for Ralph and made our introduction. I had the pleasure of taking his 1913 Richmond touring car apart for him and restoring it. He and I were on the local news channel going for a ride when it was done. He was a notable point in my 40 year career. I’m sure he will be missed by all who knew him. Rest In Peace Ralph, Derk J Hinsey

  8. Terry and family – I cherish my memories of getting to know your Father, a man of many gifts and talents. While it is sad when a beloved family member passes away, let’s feel peace that he has moved on to a better place. Ralph was a stellar example of how to live life to the fullest. I well remember the engaged gleam in his eye when he spoke of designing a windmill generator. His successful pursuit of ultralight flight brought him rich experiences most will never know. Fly high Ralph and know that you are missed.

  9. My thoughts are with all of the Vogel clan. I will always remember Mr. Vogel’s laugh, him and my dad ( Mutt and Jeff) in the old car. Driving from Ft. Wayne, IN to Three Rivers. Lots of really great memories with your family and mine. Him calling me Sunshine. Kathy, you all are in my thoughts. His picture with his smile. I will always remember that about him. Love to you all. Sharon (Sunshine) Bistodeau (Myers)

  10. Kathy, Terry, Chris, Barb and Lisa,
    I am very sorry your Dad is gone.
    Your house was a second home to me as I was growing up.
    God grant you all His peace and comfort during this sad time.

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