John H. Thurston Sr.

John H. Thurston Sr.

John went home to be with his Lord and Saviour on Friday, September 8, 2017 at Bronson Hospital, with his family by his side.

He was born on May 6, 1929 in Kalamazoo, the firstborn of Ira and Lorraine (Sellers) Thurston. After graduating from Kalamazoo Central High School in 1948, he met the love of his life, Annabell Brackins. While she was visiting her brother, Oscar Lewis in Michigan, he introduced her to John. According to John, it was love at first sight. He fell in love immediately with her beautiful auburn hair. On June 18, 1949 John and Annabell were joined in marriage in a beautiful outdoor ceremony. The couple welcomed their first child, Patricia, in 1950. In 1952, God blessed them with another daughter, Sandra. 

In 1953, John and Annabell accepted Christ as their Saviour at the Covey Hill Baptist Church in Paw Paw, Michigan. His strong faith sustained him throughout his 88 years. He was an active member of the First Congregational Church of Otsego. His example as a Christian man will never be forgotten. He was the spiritual leader of his home, and his faith in God strengthened those around him. The legacy he leaves is this: Faith without limits, and hope without fear.

In 1955, the growing family moved to Phoenix, Arizona. He designed and built two homes for his family. During the nearly ten years in Arizona, many special memories were made. They owned horses, which brought so much joy to the children. In 1962, his son John Thurston Jr. was born. The family returned to Michigan in 1964. They settled in Otsego in 1969.

In 1972, John turned his hobby into a career, when he graduated from Hinkley Auctioneer School. He had a strong interest in antiques and the history surrounding products from days gone by. He always enjoyed talking about the history of how things were made and used, and how they differ from modern day products. He remained active as an auctioneer well into his late eighties. John had a passion for the outdoors, and was particularly fond of fishing. He also enjoyed hunting, gardening and spending time with family and friends. His humor could light up a room.

John is survived by his wife, Annabell (Brackins) Thurston. Also surviving are his children, Patricia (Rodger) Bolen of Kalamazoo, Sandra Ambs of Parchment and John Thurston Jr. of Otsego; grandchildren, Kelly, Andy, Sarah, Laura, Crystal and Danielle; 8 great-grandchildren; brother James (Nadine) Thurston of Alabama.

He was preceded in death by his parents and son-in-law, Roger Ambs.

Friends may visit with John’s family on Thursday, September 14, 2017 at the First Congregational Church of Otsego at 10:00 A.M.

Funeral Service will begin at 11:00 A.M., with Pastor Darin Youngs officiating.

Burial will follow at Riverside Cemetery in Kalamazoo.

Contributions in memory of John may be made to the First Congregation Church of Otsego.

Messages of condolence may be posted at

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Messages of Condolence

  1. Penny Baker says:

    Dear Annabell, and all family, so very very sorry to hear if the leave-taking of this very kind and honorable, gentle hearted man.
    Penny Browning Baker

  2. Arthur Lewis says:

    To Patty,Laura and the Family I am sorry to hear of the passing of a Great Man. God has called him home and he has left his mark on your Family as an outstanding Christian and Outstanding Leader of his Family. I know this to be true because of the Wonderful people i know of his Family Patty and Laura Bolen. Bless Him and his Wonderful Family.

  3. Peggy says:

    Uncle johnny we will miss you on this old earth but rejoice that we will see you again
    In the fellowship of our Lord and Savior.
    Aunt Annabel,Patty,Sandy and little John,
    Our thoughts and love are with you all.

    With much ❤️,
    David and peggy

  4. Robert Pranskatis says:

    John could light up any room with his humor. Great friend and auctioneer.

  5. Marilyn Doubblestein says:

    Annabelle, I am so sorry to hear about Johnny. My whole life I never heard one bad word about him. Only kind words. He really was a man after God’s heart. I pray for you to find peace that passes all understanding. Mom(Eleanor) and I send our

  6. Winkel Funeral Home says:

    James Pierce says:

    I worked with John as a young auctioneer. He taught me a lot but mostly taught me how an honest an auctioneer should be. I will miss #4 at my auctions. Ann and family, you should be proud of the man John was. A lesson can be learned from his teachings. Rest in Peace ol’ Buddy, you deserve it.

  7. Winkel Funeral Home says:

    David R. Salisbury says:

    I met John perhaps the 3rd or 4th week after starting to attend First Congregational Church of Otsego. He was in the SS class that I attended. John impressed me immediately with his “godly spirit”, attitude, and spirit of love for others. John’s smile was big and sincere. It was always the highlight of each and every Sunday to see John, shake his hand and exchanged some words. I have missed this Sunday morning greeting since his illness. I enjoyed his contributions in class and knew that he had a relationship with Jesus Christ that counted for eternity. His absence from class has left a real void. Today, he is missed my many, however he is with our Lord! I shall see him again!

  8. Winkel Funeral Home says:

    Kim Vorva says:

    Annie, Patty and Sandy,

    I am SO incredibly thankful for the time I was able to share with John! He was so sweet and kind. I loved him and miss him very much already! You guys have been and are in my thoughts!

  9. Winkel Funeral Home says:

    Lynn & Duane Bronkema says:

    My Dear Ann and Family :

    Our Heart is heavy and sad for the loss of John. He was such a kind and friendly man. He will be greatly missed by all.
    Just think of all the happy Memories of John to help you through the healing process. May He Rest in Peace. Prayers and Comfort to you and your family.

    Lynn & Duane

  10. jeff&diane bogren says:

    we all will miss honest john the auctioneer, the antiquer,and friend.

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