Eric Jan Kochenderfer of Fostoria, Michigan passed peacefully into the arms of our Lord early Monday morning, July 12, 2021 at the age of 77.
Eric was born to Donald and Lillian (Felice) Kochenderfer on March 17, 1944, in Pontiac, MI. He attended Michigan State University and was a fervent, lifelong Spartan, always ready to try to convert others to his side of the MSU/U of M debate. On July 16, 1966, he married Constance Faith Fry. Together they celebrated 54 years of marriage, traveled through Europe and the American West, and raised their three children, Kenneth, Melissa, and Daniel, in the woods and waters of their home. Eric’s family grew when his children were married, and he welcomed the addition of two daughters, Rebecca and Sarah, and one son, Paul. They’re pretty sure they were his favorites. Between them, they added 9 grandchildren to the family: Max, Lillie, Ella, Abbi, Annie, Lincoln, Grace, Toby, and Rachel.
Eric turned his love of science and entomology into a professional career, spending 40 years as a high school teacher. Generations of Millington students learned biology and conservation in his classroom, and his family spent many hours exploring the outdoors and collecting cool stuff wherever they happened to travel—he always appreciated things like dead horseshoe crabs, beetles, butterflies, and other interesting creatures with too many legs. He also combined his love of entomology and community by collecting hornets from area residents for free for over 25 years.
Eric liked to show his love for his family through food and furniture. His furniture pieces showed his dedication to woodworking, and he shared his amazing art with his family. Tables, chairs, hutches, cabinets, shelves, trivets, and more were created for his children and grandchildren, and will be enjoyed for the generations yet to come. Jelly was another of his passions, and each year he ensured that his family would never need to buy it from the store. If anyone ran low, they knew they could always ask for more. Dad would always provide. He also loved sharing his abundant garden with his grandchildren and always made sure to grow some of the largest pumpkins for them to enjoy in the fall. Every spring the question was asked, “Is Grandpa planting pumpkins this year?” Grandpa never disappointed his grandchildren, and the garden continues to grow the pumpkins he has planted for them this year. Not content with feeding his family, Eric made sure to grow enough extra in his garden to share produce with many family, friends, and strangers alike—but not the local wildlife.
Eric used his love of music to serve our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He played guitar and banjo, and was an active member of the choir at his home congregation, the Millington United Methodist Church. His woodworking magazines contained not only favorite woodworking patterns, but sheet music for the current songs that were being rehearsed with the choir tucked inside.
Eric had so many more talents and interests. He was a PBS aficionado—from Red Green, America’s Test Kitchen, and musical specials, he always had an interesting fun fact, yummy recipe, or musical recommendation to share. As far as his family knows, Eric’s television was only able to receive the news, Jeopardy, and PBS. He loved living on the lake and enjoyed fishing. For over 50 years, he and his buddy Joe had a standing date on Memorial Day for fishing on Cedar Lake. He was an exceptional cook and baker, and made the world’s best grilled cheese.
Eric was preceded in death by his parents, Donald and Lillian Kochenderfer. He is survived by his wife, Connie; six children, Kenneth and Rebecca Kochenderfer, Melissa and Paul Taylor, and Daniel and Sarah Kochenderfer; 9 grandchildren; his brothers and sisters-in-law, Roger and Melinda Kochenderfer and Bruce and Debbie Kochenderfer; and many nieces and nephews.
The family would like to invite friends to Hanlin Funeral Home on Friday, July 16, 2021 from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. The funeral will be on Saturday, July 17, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. at The Millington United Methodist Church. In lieu of flowers, the family is encouraging donations be made to Eric’s home church, the United Methodist Church in Millington.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Eric Kochenderfer, please visit our floral store.