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Life Story / Obituary
Carl Engvall lived a full life defined by his love of family, loyal friendships, and a passion for anything mechanical. Known for his quiet nature yet mischievous spirit, Carl approached all he did in life with meticulous attention to detail and a desire to do things the right way - his way!
Born on April 24, 1955 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Carl was the youngest of five rambunctious boys raised by Paul and Ethel (Johnson) Engvall in the Burton Heights area. It was a promising time in America - a post-war economic boom paired with a flowering youth culture.
The Engvall family spent many weekends and summers at the family’s trailer resort at Loon Lake in Irons, Michigan. There, young Carl learned the value of hard work alongside weekend fun and mischief with his brothers. Even as a child, Carl displayed special talents for drawing and artistry. He also developed a lifelong gift for fixing, building, and working with his hands thanks to time spent shadowing his father.
Carl attended Buchanan Elementary, Burton Middle School, and Central High School, where he excelled in sports like wrestling. After school, Carl worked at a local gas station where he saved up to buy his first car from his brother. This purchase fueled Carl’s passion for racing, and he spent many weekends drag racing at the local Martin Dragway.
Once graduated, Carl started working at Kmart where he met his future wife, Kathy Hamilton who had a way of finding herself having lunch around the same time as Carl. Over many lunches, the two got to know each other and dated for three years before Carl finally married his “blue light special” on April 8, 1978 at St. John Vianney Church.
After a honeymoon in Florida, the newlyweds settled down in Alger Heights, where they welcomed their two cherished daughters, Jennifer and Lisa. Carl doted on his girls, though he wasn't one to discipline; he deferred to Kathy in that arena. From burning rubber in the driveway to impress new neighbors to handstands, he constantly kept his family entertained with his fearless stunts and jokes. He was happy to be referred to as “Quick Carl.” And, having been raised in a household of all brothers, Carl wasn’t shy about asking his daughters to help with a task…even if it meant moving something big and heavy.
Professionally, Carl worked his way up from Kmart to supervisory roles at Stack Pac, Concept Industries, and Thermal Forms. His eye for detail and perfectionist nature made him an excellent fit in the thermal plastics industry, where he made many lifelong friends. When his daughters were young, Carl often worked second shift so he could be home with them while Kathy worked days. Dinnertime in the Engvall home was sacrosanct. No matter how busy the day, the family always gathered around the dinner table, sharing conversation and laughs. After dinner, Carl might grab a Budweiser and the newspaper, unwinding after a hard day's work.
The Engvalls later moved to Hudsonville, where the girls finished growing up. Family vacations were always a treat, with trips to Indiana where Carl could watch a race while the girls went shopping. A memorable houseboat adventure on Lake Cumberland and trips to Florida to celebrate graduations are among the highlights
In their adult lives, Jennifer and Lisa knew they could always count on their dad for support, even when they made mistakes. Though not overtly affectionate, he was forever in their corner.
Outside of work and family, Carl had an active social life with Kathy and close friends. Of course, Kathy arranged most of their plans. Carl may not have been much for show or dressing up — what you saw is what you got — but he was always game for a fun night out.
In his downtime, you could find Carl in the garage fine-tuning his tool collection, admiring his hot wheels and model car collections, or coin collecting. He also enjoyed billiards and connected regularly with his brothers, who each had diverse talents and interests. Together they even built an airplane, working in harmony.
When his daughters had children of their own, Carl took immense pride in his new role as grandfather. Admittedly, he was a bit uncomfortable with babies, but still carried on his legacy of laughter and playfulness with his grandchildren. He was always willing to have fun and, of course, talk cars.
In Carl’s later years, the early signs of dementia started to show. Surrounded by his steadfast, loving family they cared for him with immense love and patience as his health declined over the last seven years.
Carl Engvall passed away on February 8, 2024.
To those who knew Carl Engvall, it was his loyal heart, humor and passion that defined the man. His legacy lives on through the family and friends who laughed by his side, who carry his memory with them like a cherished heirloom. So take a ride in a classic car, or build something with your own two hands. With each turn of a wrench, each spin of the tires, Carl’s memory will stay with us.
Carl M. Engvall, age 68 of Allendale, passed away after a long struggle from Lewy Body Dementia. Carl was preceded in death by his parents, Paul & Ethel Engvall; his brother, Bruce Engvall; in-laws Wayne & Dorothy Hamilton; and his brother-in-law David Hamilton.
Carl is survived by his wife of 45 years, Kathy (Hamilton); daughters, Jennifer (Dan) Ruster, Lisa (Ken) Wysocki; four grandchildren: Carley Moore, Wyatt, Weston and Parker Wysocki; son-in-law, Jason Moore; brothers Steve (Ann), Rick, Roger (Kathy); brother-in-law Larry (Laura) Hamilton; as well as many special nieces, nephews, and great nieces and nephews.
Kathy would like to thank all those that were part of Carl’s last year helping with his care: his daughters, brothers, friends and Faith Hospice (Lisa, Kristin, Karla, Caleb) and the doctors and nurses at Hauenstein. Your support is very much appreciated.
Dementia is a truly horrible disease. Watching Carl for the last year was something no family should endure. It is called the “long goodbye” and it is! Please come to his Celebration of Life Service prepared with a few words to share. We would love to hear your stories.
The Celebration of Life Service will be held on Tuesday, February 13, 2024 at 11 AM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home – Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel where friends may visit with his family on Monday from 5-8 PM and on Tuesday beginning at 10 AM. For those who wish, memorial donations to Faith Hospice are appreciated. To read more about Carl, to share a memory or to sign his guestbook, visit HeritageLifeStory.com