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July 29, 1935 ~ December 4, 2023 (age 88) 88 Years Old
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Martin Melvin Haga, 88, of Ionia died on December 4, 2023 at UM Health West in Grand Rapids. Mel was born on July 29, 1935, in Oak Harbor, WA, the son of Bert and Fredericka (Brown) Haga. He graduated from Oak Harbor High School with the Class of 1953. Being raised in a strong Christian Reformed home, it was important for Mel to attend Calvin College in Grand Rapids, pursuing a degree in social work. While at Calvin, Mel also worked as a typesetter for the Grand Rapids Press. He subsequently earned a master’s degree in social work from the University of Michigan and devoted his life and career to helping others. He was married to the love of his life, Nancy Schaar, on August 29, 1972 in Castle Rock, CO.
Mel began working at the Muskegon County Department of Social Services, became a field representative in Mt. Pleasant for the State of Michigan, an administrator for the El Paso County (CO) welfare department, progressed to Director of Social Services for Ionia County in 1973 and later worked in field services in Lansing, retiring in 1995. He then began working for Helping Hands Home Care and Hospice in Ionia. Mel continued his work in the field via Michigan County Social Services Association from 2004 to 2019. He remained active with many causes, including serving on the board of the Ionia County Commission on Aging and working with the Ionia Free Fair where his favorite projects were the antique village and car show. He was a long-time member of the Le Valley United Methodist Church, serving as an usher and various other programs within the church. When he did have some free time, Mel’s interests were many including camping, fishing, hunting, photography, wood-working, antiquing with a recent focus on counter bells, keeping up the yard and hobby farm, and spending time with family. He was always ready for a trip, especially to Shipshewana. Mel was also a huge University of Michigan fan. Maize and blue were the only true colors.
Mel is loved and survived by his wife Nancy, brother Henry (Lyla) Haga of California, daughter LeeAnn Paul of California, several nieces and nephews, many other extended family members and countless friends. He was predeceased by his parents, son Scott, daughter Lila Hughes, sister Ann (Don) Nienhouse, and several aunts and uncles.
Mel’s life and work positively impacted many. He will be greatly missed and always remembered with a smile, including for his appreciation of a good joke and willingness to help others.
Funeral services will be 11:00am, Saturday, December 9, 2023 at Le Valley United Methodist Church in Ionia with Pastor Nancy Patera officiating. Visitation will be Friday, December 8, from 4:00-6:00pm at Johnson-Feurstein Funeral Home in Belding, and one hour before the service at the church. A luncheon will follow the funeral at the church. Committal prayers will be 3:30pm Saturday at Surrey Township Cemetery in Farwell, MIchigan.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Le Valley United Methodist Church (4018 Kelsey Highway, Ionia, MI 48846) or the Ionia County Commission on Aging (115 Hudson St., Ionia, MI 48846). To share a message of condolence or light a candle in memory of Mel, please visit the website of the funeral home at www.jffh.com.