Cover photo for Michael S. Zantello's Obituary
Michael S. Zantello Profile Photo

Michael S. Zantello

Mike passed away Monday, October 21, 2019 at Borgess Medical Center in Kalamazoo.

He was born February 9, 1962 in Kalamazoo, the son of Ramon and Karla (Rowley) Zantello. Mike graduated from Western Michigan University and had worked at Cook Nuclear Power Plant in Bridgman for many years.

He loved riding motorcycles, woodworking, working outside, running, bicycling, kayaking and had taught himself to play the guitar.

In May of 1997 in Portage he married Susanne Bellgraph who survives.

Also surviving are his sons, Joshua Zantello of Otsego and Michael (Elizabeth) Zantello of Alaska; step-children, Michael (Chris) Zeluff and Tiffany (Dick) Mattox; grandchildren, Amelia, Josh, Marissa, Justin, Alexi, Zoe, Tobin, Emmi, Sutton and Colton; his parents and siblings, Ramon (Bridget) Zantello of Hamilton and Tim (Melissa) Zantello of North Carolina.

According to his wishes cremation has taken place.

A memorial service will be held at 11:00 A.M., Monday, October 28, 2019 at the Winkel Funeral Home, Otsego, with celebrant Bill Rose officiating.

Burial of ashes will take place at Mountain Home Cemetery, Otsego Township at a later time.

In lieu of flowers contributions in memory of Mike may be made to the

West Michigan Cancer Center.

Messages of condolence may be posted at


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Condolence Messages

Class of 1980

October 22, 2019 at 2:47 pm

The Class of 1980 sends their deepest condolences to Mike’s family and friends.

He will be missed.


Kim (Fenner) Sheldon

October 22, 2019 at 3:20 pm

Sue and family, I was so sorry to hear about Mike. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this difficult time.

Bryon and Kim (Fenner) Sheldon

Fairhope, AL


Mark Kuiper

October 22, 2019 at 4:09 pm

Mike was a classmate and a friend and a college roommate and a wonderful person. RIP Mike.


C. Gray

October 29, 2019 at 5:19 pm

So sorry to hear about your son Karla & Ray. Love & hugs. Your neighbors, The Gray’s


Edd and Lori Allard

October 22, 2019 at 4:13 pm

I’m so sorry to hear about Mike’s passing. He always brightened up the room with his presence. He had a natural joy for life and it was contagious! Lori and I last saw him a few summers ago, and we laughed together until our sides hurt!

Lori and I send our sincere condolences to Sue and the entire family. We’re keeping you in our prayers and in our hearts!


Lyn (Dines) Shumaker

October 22, 2019 at 4:28 pm

I am so very sorry to hear this. Prayers for his family.


Lori Burrows

October 22, 2019 at 4:31 pm

My condolences to the family. Thoughts and prayers are with all of you.


Arthur Stolte

October 22, 2019 at 4:52 pm

My condolences to Sue and all of Mike’s family. It was my privilege to work with Mike at the Cook Plant for my 27 years there. He inspired us, entertained us, made us laugh and did half of our work. He will be greatly missed.

Art Stolte

Stevensville MI


Tammy Lutes

October 22, 2019 at 4:53 pm

Mike was a kind and funny person who was adored by many and will be missed greatly. I’m sorry for his family and send my sincere condolences. I was one of Mike’s high school classmates. OHS class of 80.


Pat McGuire Miner

October 22, 2019 at 5:37 pm

So sorry to hear of his passing. Joann told me that he was in very bad shape on Sunday, but did not know any of the particulars. I was sad to hear the news. I’m thinking of you Susanne,


Carolyn E. Jordan

October 22, 2019 at 6:20 pm

Ray & Karla & family: My heart goes out to your family during this tremendously sad time in your lives. Please know I will keep you in my prayers for the love of God to fold you in His arms & may He watch over you & comfort you today, tomorrow & in all the days to come. (we were in Otsego Community Theater Guild together — Way back in the 70’s & 80’s.)


David Newlin

October 22, 2019 at 7:12 pm

I met Mike when I started working together with him in 1990 at Cook. We were shift partners, ride share companions for over 10 years. Truly one of the best people I have had the privilege to know. He will be so missed. My sincere condolences to his family and friends.


Al & Kathy Schwennesen

October 22, 2019 at 7:33 pm

Dear sue and family

deepest condolences during this sad time. May the Peace of the Lord be with you.


Jeff Smalla

October 22, 2019 at 7:40 pm

I am so sad to hear of Mike’s passing. My deepest sympathies and prayers go out to his whole family.

I have not spent time with Mike since high school where he schooled me daily in ping pong. So much fun and so much joy! I still recall serious discussions about deep subjects. Sometimes we disagreed but there was always mutual kindness and respect; something painfully missing these days.

I am deeply sorry for your loss and pain but know you have gathered so many beautiful memories that will slowly bring healing to your hearts.


Joyce Buckallew

October 22, 2019 at 7:45 pm

My condolences to the family. My heart goes out to you. Sending prayers.


Deb Lovett- Seekman

October 22, 2019 at 8:08 pm

Ray,Karla,Ray & Tim,

I’m so sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Sorry I will be out of town on Monday.


Theresa Sours

October 22, 2019 at 8:13 pm

My deepest sympathy to Ray and Karla, Ray and Bridget, and the entire family on the loss of Mike. Words can’t express the heartache of losing such a wonderful person. May God soothe you during this difficult time.


Bruce Brandon

October 22, 2019 at 8:18 pm

So sorry to hear of Mike’s passing. Our thoughts and prayers go out to you Sue and all the family.


Bruce and Kathy Brandon


Jim Griffin

October 22, 2019 at 8:33 pm

Mike was a great guy! I remember great times with him at DC Cook and carpooling to work with him from PawPaw/Kalamazoo. It didn’t matter how bad the weather was, he always said we could make it!

I will miss him!


Theresa Irving

October 22, 2019 at 8:38 pm

So sorry, prayers and hugs to the family.


Lori Hare Pickett

October 22, 2019 at 9:23 pm

My deepest sympathy to all. May you find peace in your memories of Mike.


Dean Madonia

October 23, 2019 at 7:00 am

My deepest condolences to Mike’s family. I want to share something with you about Mike that I wrote this morning on my blog:

My mind is reeling today. The world became a different place for me. After Karate, I had 20 minutes to kill before picking up Wolfgang from school. I look at my phone and see a message from my friend Steven saying that Michael Zantello passed away yesterday.

I cannot even breathe.

Michael and I have been friends since the 70s when we were on the swim team together. We would crack up atogether about how the announcers would always mispronounce “Madonia” and “Zantello.” Often it was Madonna and Zanatola! Mike used to love Fantasy. He would play live-action games of Dungeons and Dragons out on his dad’s farm. Seems like fire was involved one time… He was a constant cutup. I remember in our senior year, I got a lead in the musical – I was the Minstrel in “Once Upon A Mattress.” I don’t remember the mechanics of it all, but somehow, some of us decided that Mike would make a great king. The king doesn’t say anything through the whole production until the very end, so He needs to be likable and funny with no lines.

I had just found this a couple weeks ago and put it on my fridge to tease Mike with the next time he stopped by…

Mike stole the show!

When my high-school girlfriend broke up with me just before the senior trip and Mike found me writing a sad song in my room, he got me out of my funk. He even switched busses from the popular bus to the one I ended up on to cheer me up. He saved me from myself. All the way home from Washington DC, we drove everyone crazy by singing patriotic songs in a really high, falsetto hum. I still recall it to this day and it makes me feel silly and happy.

Mike was hilarious. He and I talked often on the phone and he would always say “Oh, One more thing,” or “By the way” or “You know what” and then hang up on me! He used o say funny stuff like, “Madonia, you have a lot of class. All of it third.” Or he would get really serious, raise his voice, point his finger at me and say, “Don’t test me, I’ll FAIL!” or “Don’t get smart with me, I wouldn’t recognize you!”

Mike was on the tennis team and we played tennis sometimes at the high school courts. Of course, he killed me in tennis. Once, he made up a game called “Crazy Balls.” The idea was that you brought all of your tennis balls with you and put an equal amount of players on each side and you hit the balls onto the other side of the court. The idea was to get ALL of the balls onto the opposing side. This was not possible, but you could get close if you disrupted the other players but hitting them with the tennis balls. I don’t remember who made the “Crazy Balls” hat – I think Mike made it for me. I wore it in college…

Years went by and Mike and I lost touch eventually. Soon after I moved to Nashville, I got a call from Mike. He was riding his Harley down for a visit. It was so great to see him chugging into my driveway, larger than life, making bad jokes and goofing around. He did this a couple of times while we were there. Of course, he stayed with us. We got a chance to catch up and go out for a beer.

Mike rode his hog to Nashville and we are out on the town!

When I came to look for a house in Michigan, Mike gave me a few pointers – the best one was to not buy a house I had been looking at that was in the shadow of a heavily forested hill. He told me that in the winter I was going to want as much sun as possible. He was right. We went to lunch (and I forgot my wallet), “Likely story,” say Mike. I asked about the scar on his head. He told me he had cancer. He was a private person, so it’s not like he was going to call me and tell me…

Last year when I went to Okinawa, I came back feeling refreshed and excited. I was over at Mike’s talking about it with Mike and his wife Sue. I guess my excitement was contagious because Mike signed up for 6 month of karate at my dojo. At first, I would pick him up and we would chat in the car (usually me bitching about Trump), but his schedule was weird and sometimes he couldn’t go. Sensei said he was doing well. After a few months, he left the dojo – he was struggling a bit and his work got super busy.

When I found out I had cancer, I called Mike and he came over the next day. He gave me hope. He was like my “cancer sponsor,” like in AA. I could call him anytime. Mike has been to the mountain. He didn’t talk much about it, but he was at 6 years for a 10 month prognosis. He was winning! I remember he came over to talk to Trina and I and he brought a beer. I’m pretty sure he was not supposed to have it, but he was showing bravado. He was trying to lift me up again – showing me cancer was no big deal. Life went on – He wasn’t scared and neither should I be. He has always been a great sounding board, almost like an angel to me. I have always been the dark and he was the light. I don’t know how much pain he was in – he was not a complainer and was never looking for sympathy. I guess he contracted pneumonia last week and they put him not a coma and he passed away. Sue called me last night and apologized for not saying anything but “You know, Mike was private – he didn’t want it getting around.

Yeah. I know.

I just texted him last week – asking if he was OK. No answer. Now I know why. The world for me is a different place. Darker. My surgeon retired and now my patron saint has also left.

Looks like Mike just did the final “Oh, by the way,” to us all.


Jerry Farnsworth

October 25, 2019 at 6:17 pm

Thank you


Richard Hintz

October 23, 2019 at 7:59 am

Mike was full of bubbles. Sunlight followed him. Kindness personified. So good for the planet. Good wishes to all the members of his family.


Cindy Graffenius

October 23, 2019 at 8:11 am

I worked with Mike at the plant for many years. He was so smart, funny, and hard working. He always knew how to defuse a tense moment with wit, humor, and a smile. He will be sorely missed. I am so sorry for your loss. Prayers for peace and comfort for you all.


Mike Sullivan

October 23, 2019 at 9:31 am

Rest in pease Mike.


Tim and Marcia Quigley

October 23, 2019 at 10:55 am

We are so sorry and saddened to hear of your son’s passing. Tim and I know so very well how much that hurts. Please hang on to your memories; your son will always be in your heart! He is now a beautiful Angel in Heaven watching over you!


Cory and Aimee Hess

October 23, 2019 at 11:43 am

Our deepest condolences to all the Zantello family. Our prayers and thoughts are with you. The world will surely be a different place without Mike.



October 23, 2019 at 12:13 pm

My deepest sympathy to the family. May you take comfort in knowing he touch so many people lives. My prayers and thoughts are with you.


Janelle Morgan-Baker

October 23, 2019 at 2:19 pm

My deepest condolences to the Zantello family. I met Mike in early middle school. He sat behind me in science class. Im not really sure how much we learned that year, but we sure laughed a whole lot. A few years later we all hung out at the “rink.” He may have had to “babysit” his younger brother, but always seemed to have fun. Many years later we got to say hello, via Facebook /Otsego class. May he Rest in Peace. He will be missed.


Lorrie Wilson(Bush)

October 23, 2019 at 3:04 pm

Mike was a amazing cousin and growing up with the boys was a adventure of its own. His laughter and his look when he wanted you to pay attention about thing he new u wanted to learn…like when he took me sailing in a little sail boat to get me away from Auntie and Grams. I love u cuz!


Glenna R Palmer

October 23, 2019 at 4:15 pm

You know how we all have a “favorite people list”? Well, Michael was definitely on mine! What a great kid and a real gentleman, too. There is no doubt Michael will be missed by many. There are no words to you (Karla and Ramon) on the loss of your son. Ramon John and Tim will remember him with smiles on their faces, I’m sure. The saying goes, “God, must have needed him more than we did.”

Lovingly, Glenna xxoo


Cathy Borths

October 23, 2019 at 5:54 pm

So sorry for the loss of Michael. He was such a nice person. He was able to put a smile on your face and make you laugh at work, and sometimes that was a hard task to accomplish.

Sending prayers for strength and peace for you all.


Terry and Robin Mohrland

October 23, 2019 at 6:05 pm

Ray and Karla and family,

We are so sorry for your loss. Please know that our prayers and thoughts are with all of you.

With deepest sympathy,

Terry and Robin Mohrland


Marci Snyder Shaw

October 23, 2019 at 6:52 pm

I have such fun and wonderful memories of Mike. We sure had some great times during our college years. I am so sorry for your loss. May you find peace during this time.



October 23, 2019 at 7:20 pm

Your heart and soul will be missed terribly. All of our love to Sue and family.

Marvin and Stacy Young


Joe Krumlinde

October 23, 2019 at 7:29 pm

Ray and Karla so sorry to hear about the loss of your son Mike. You have my deepest condolences.

Joe Krumlinde

From the Florida golf group


Sandy Seiler

October 23, 2019 at 9:22 pm

Ramon & Karla and Family, My deepest sympathies in the loss of Mike. What a hole he’s going to leave in your and his friends lives. Peace & Prayers,


Mary (Shelly) Kugach

October 23, 2019 at 10:32 pm

I loved Mike. He was genuine and kind. Our paths didn’t cross as much as I would have liked, but knowing “Z” was around was enough. He doesn’t know it, but I used him as an example many times since high school for my kids. He was one of the great ones. Peace to you and your family.


Steve Sarle

October 23, 2019 at 11:04 pm

So sorry to hear of Mikes passing – My prayers are with the family


Jonette Kent

October 24, 2019 at 7:00 am

To the Zantello Family,:

So sorry for you loss. Cherish the good memories and he will live on forever in your hearts.

Jonette Kent (Jake)


Keith Vogel

October 24, 2019 at 1:27 pm

Mike and I worked together at Cook plant from the time he started until I retired 3 years ago. I am deeply saddened by his passing.

Mike was a great guy to work with. He was always cheerful and his humor took much of the drudgery out of the routine work. I remember the time Mike was asked to lead a safety meeting. Mike picked a good subject. How to keep safe after the zombie apocalypse.

I will miss him.


Emily Deal Dood

October 24, 2019 at 2:33 pm

Dear Sue and Family,

Please accept my most sincere condolences to you and Mike’s loved ones with his passing. I pray that your memories will bring you comfort and God’s never failing love will bring peace to each of you in the days to come.


Emily Deal Dood


Michael Dallas

October 25, 2019 at 12:09 pm

Michael was a dear friend of mine. He was a great friend and coworker. I admire his strength to carry on in the face of such a horrible disease. I will deeply miss his smile, great sense of humor, advice and friendship. God does not make many like Michael. Prayers for the family.


Kathy Ransler

October 26, 2019 at 5:36 pm

I am so very sorry.


Tom Andert

October 26, 2019 at 7:14 pm

I got to know Mike at Cook Plant a long time ago. He was always great to talk with and a dependable and was normally a serious worker. He got the work done, but could find ways to make it interesting and liven up the atmosphere. He will be sorely missed. Even though I have been retired for two years I have thought of Mike and other Cook Plant worker fondly because of their dedicated hard work.


Sandra Bursley

October 27, 2019 at 7:01 pm

Sue. I’m so sorry to hear of the loss of your beloved husband Mike! Sending prayers for comfort and peace. May he rest in peace in heaven, ♥️


Joyce Mohrland

October 27, 2019 at 9:25 pm

Ramon Karla and family. Thoughts and prayers to all mike was one of those special individuals. That smile loved it and hisvhugs. ♥️


Tim Allard

October 28, 2019 at 9:19 am

I remember playing tennis with Mike while in high school. You could always count on him keeping everyone on the bus laughing when we had an away match. After high school his jovial personality was infectious. I don’t recall a time where Mike wasn’t laughing or trying to make those around him laugh. He is gone way too soon, but I can only imagine that where ever he is now, the angels are enjoying a few good laughs as well.


Joe and Kelly Sherwood

October 28, 2019 at 6:35 pm

Joe and I are sorry to hear of Mikes passing…..thoughts and prayers for all.


Rodney Blanchard

October 29, 2019 at 9:46 pm

My deepest condolences.


Mike and Judy Chybik

October 30, 2019 at 9:15 am

Ray, Karla, family and friends so very sorry for your loss. God Bless and keep you during this difficult time.


Lisa Hedman

November 8, 2019 at 10:49 pm

Mike- you were the best EMT partner a girl could ask for….studying for our practical’s, going to EMT expos, and keeeping me safe from other crazy people! Working with you day to day in the lab was always a fun time….. Wish I had seen this sooner so I could have made your funeral. Been thinking of you…See you on the other side…

To Mikes family- I am sorry for your loss.


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