Sunday, May 26, 2024

Vincent Penar 1948-2024


Vincent James Penar passed away Thursday, March 28, 2024, at the age of 75.

Vince’s family will host a Celebration of Life at Schrier Park in Portage, Michigan Sunday, May 19, from 2 to 5 p.m. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the charity of your choosing in Vince’s honor.

Vince was born Sept. 10, 1948, in Vicksburg, Michigan, the son of Maxine (Ladyman) and Stanley Penar.

From a young age, Vince embraced adventure, never passing up an opportunity for a new experience. Vince was an active and social kid, participating in various sports and other activities throughout his school years, and even working as a lifeguard at the local community pool.

Ever the prankster, Vince would often recollect his exploits during his school days, playing tricks on his teachers and classmates. These traits stayed with him into his adult years, but Vince’s true passion was automobiles, which began with building model cars; that love followed him throughout his life.

After graduating high school, Vince began employment with Simpson Lee Paper Company (Local 13120) in the press room, and married his high school sweetheart, Gayle Ivens. Vince also began taking correspondence courses toward a trade certificate in plumbing/pipefitting. However, in April 1968, Vince received his draft notice from the U.S. Armed Forces. Vince honorably served his country during the Vietnam War in various capacities until April 1970. Upon completing his service in the US Army, Vince returned to work at Simpson Lee in its personnel office. In 1976, Vince completed an apprenticeship in the trade of industrial pipefitter under the sponsorship of Simpson Lee and the United Steel Workers of America (AFL-CIO) in Vicksburg, Michigan. Vince continued as a journeyman pipefitter with Simpson Lee until 1978, when he joined General Motors Corporation at its Fisher Body division in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Vince later transferred to GM’s Hydramatic division in Three Rivers, Michigan, where he met and married Laura VanKirk. Vince and Laura were married for 20 years and raised two children together. Shortly after their wedding, Vince built the family home on two acres of land on the Portage River, in Three Rivers, where his family lived from 1991 until 1994.

In 1994, Vince transferred to GM’s assembly plant in Arlington, Texas, settling in Cedar Hill, with his family. During this time, Vince’s dream was to retire on a ranch in the Texas Hill Country. Vince purchased 48 acres in Comanche and began building his retirement home. Ultimately, Vince gave GM 34 years of loyal service as a pipefitter-plumber-steamfitter until he retired in 2012.

After retiring from GM, Vince decided that he much preferred to spend his golden years on a lake; so, he sold the Comanche ranch and purchased a home on Eagle Mountain Lake in Azle, where he lived from 2012 until his death. In 2015, Vince remarried Gayle, his first and last love.

An avid socializer, Vince would engage in any activity that would allow him to spend time with his family and friends, including attending car shows and swap meets, boating, bowling, camping, canoeing, golfing, hosting neighborhood gatherings, joining Corvette and motorcycle clubs, learning to play the guitar and traveling. Never afraid to get his hands dirty, you could always find Vince working outside on his home, in the garage on one of his many classic or vintage vehicles, or in the kitchen or at the grill cooking for his family and friends. Vince took great pride in everything he created.

An automobile enthusiast, Vince put his heart and soul into buying, rebuilding and selling various classic cars, vintage bikes and vintage boats throughout his life.

Vince is preceded in his passing by his mother, Maxine Penar; father, Stanley Penar; sister, Jean Buck; father-in-law, Tom Ivens; many aunts and uncles; and best friend, Fred Cordola.

Left to cherish Vince’s loving memory are his wife, Gayle; daughter, Jena Perez and her children, Zoe and Zander; son, Jay Penar and his daughter, Katalina Meyer; stepdaughter, Stephanie (Eric) Dunnick and their children, Olivia, Alexandra and Jennifer; stepdaughter, Angela Griffin and her children, Rayna and Andrew; stepson, Jack “JJ” Griffin; great-granddaughter, Layla Meyer; brother, Mitch Penar; sister, Pat (Mike) Guilfoyle; mother-in-law, Ardis Ivens; and many friends.