Joseph Michael Soehnel

joseph soehnel
Joseph Michael Soehnel, 64, of Essexville, our positive, selfless, caring, easy-going, and most generous husband, father, brother, uncle, and friend went home to be with the Lord on the morning of Saturday, April 21, 2018 at University of Michigan – Ann Arbor. Joe was born in Gladwin on October 16, 1953, the son of the late Joseph Willard and Elizabeth (Slabic) Soehnel. Little did Joe know, while working in the I.T. department at the Department of Human Services, where he spent 35 years, he would meet his wife, Barbara Handy. After their second date, Joe knew he was destined to marry Barb. They were united in marriage on February 10, 1978, exactly five months from the day of their first date. Their forty years were blessed with two children and countless memories. Always one to stick to the positive side and see the glass half full, Joe will forever be remembered for his fun and adventurous personality. In his younger years, Joe enjoyed running, especially in the St. Patrick’s Day race, swimming laps, and keeping meticulous records of those laps. He was devoted to birding and maintained the Saginaw Bay Area Birding and Birding Trail website and was a former volunteer for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services at the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge. Joe leaves to cherish his memory, his loving wife and soulmate, Barbara Handy and their two children, Grant Handy Soehnel and his wife, Melissa and Reed Handy Soehnel. Also surviving are his siblings, Patricia Soehnel, Anthony (Karen) Soehnel, June Soehnel, Marie (Larry) Klamer, Anna (Bill) Harper, along with many in-laws, nieces, nephews, and many friends. In addition to his parents, Joe was welcomed home to heaven by his infant son, Aaron Handy Soehnel and siblings, Theresa Kozak, Francis Soehnel, and Chester Soehnel. Joe’s family will be present to receive visitors on Monday, April 23, 2018 from 4:00 PM until 8:00 PM at Skorupski Family Funeral Home & Cremation Services, 955 N. Pine Rd., Hampton Twp. On Tuesday, April 24, 2018, Joe will be taken to Hopevale Church, 4873 N. Center Rd., Saginaw, where visiting will continue from 10:00 AM until Joe’s 11:00 AM Life Celebration. Pastor Dan Davis will officiate with a luncheon to follow. Interment will be held privately in St. Patrick Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be directed to the wishes of the family. Expressions of sympathy may be shared with the family online at

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  1. So sorry to see Joe’s passing. We graduated together. My maiden name was Parker. Joe will truly be missed at our class reunions. We will be praying for the family during this time of sorrow and in the days ahead, RIP, Joe.

  2. To Barb, Grant, and Reed,
    We send our love and sympathy to you during this time. Joe was such a remarkable man!!!! So many people were lucky enough to call him friend.
    Jack and Mary Ellen Hessling

  3. I am so sorry for your family’s loss. I worked at Bay Co. DHS with Joe for 20 years. He was always willing to help with IT or any other chore. I was very grateful the time he loaded my file cabinets with 200 plus cases when I returned to work after a surgery. He just did it, I did not have to ask. He truly was a gentleman.

  4. Joe was a wonderful guy….. I was the IT for the State from Midland County and knew I could always call Joe to help me, and he was always so knowledgeable and so willing to share what he knew… I was very fortunate to have known him… my prayers goes out to your whole family…

  5. We wish to extend our sincere sympathy to you all. Joe touched so many lives and will be missed. Please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers.

  6. Barb, Grant and Reed,
    Your husband and father will be sorely missed by the birding community that he devoted so much of his time and talent to. He was so calm in leading birding trips and explaining details about birds and where to locate them in the trees, etc. His contributions through maintaining the saginaw bay birding website cannot be duplicated because he was so good at it.
    Thank you for sharing him with us birders all these years.
    Jeanne Henderson

  7. I am deeply saddened, and I know my late wife Barb would have been too, to hear of Joes passing. He as many times helped me to understand things. I will miss him.

  8. Barb, I will have many fond memories of Joe attending our line dancing evenings with you. So happy to have met him, he had a genuine and kind demeanor.

  9. Barb, We just saw this today. We are so sorry. Joe was always so upbeat and we always looked forward to the times we visited when we would go back to Bay City. I remember you guys always sitting in front of us in church and praying for you guys even though we did not know you at that point. Then you ended up in our Sunday School class and we had such a great friendship from that point on. I remember Mark going birding with Joe. You had such a loving marriage and raised two great kids. We know he is in heaven now but we also know how difficult this is and will be. We never want to say goodbye to our loved ones. We will be keeping you and the rest of your family in our prayers

  10. Joe was such a bright soul for the Lord. Always an encouragement to both of us during our time at Hopevale, we are thankful for Joe’s faithfulness to God’s purpose for his journey on this earth and know he is in Heaven in awe and wonder of our Savior. Our prayers are with your family and Barb.

  11. Joe always had a smile and kind word. He was so upbeat. We pray God’s peace and comfort to all of you.

  12. Will truly miss Uncle Joe, so grateful for the time I spent with him at Dakota’s party recently, I taught him how to play Farkle, one of my favorite games,it was so fun and he really liked it . Love you uncle Joe, he was always so positive no matter what,I really admired him for his upbeat attitude and personality he was a very special person RIP

  13. So sorry to hear this. Joe will be missed. He had such a huge heart and always smiled good bless you Barb and all the family

  14. Joe was one of the nicest people I have ever known. Always gentle, caring, and interesting. Joe will always be remembered as THE expert on birds of the Saginaw Bay area. We were communicating about birds just a week or so ago, and I had no idea he’s be gone so soon, and at too young an age. I see on the website that he maintained that he was out birding, and taking photos, until just a couple days before his passing. This is how every birder wants to go…enjoying the birds he loved as long as possible. I will miss Joe, and the birding community has lost one of our best.

  15. I am so sorry to hear about Joe’s passing. Joe was a kind hearted man who always answered my birding questions, no matter how silly they were. He was truly a gentleman. My condolences to all of you. I know he will be deeply missed.

  16. I am so sorry to hear this, Joe and I worked together only for a short time but I was proud to know him. Loved seeing all of his bird watching posts! Joe was always such a positive, helpful and caring man. He will be missed by so many!

  17. I was lucky enough to work with Joe on the Saginaw Bay Birding Trail when it was being expanded in 2015. I always looked forward to hearing about his bird sightings, especially all of the rarities he found while volunteering for Shiawassee NWR. He is missed.

  18. So sorry to hear of Joe’s passing! He was such a kind man! My prayers lifting for you Barb and for your family! There is no doubt he is in God’s presence!

  19. I am so sorry to hear of Joe’s passing and to learn of your loss. I used to see Joe almost on a weekly basis around town and I have to tell you he brought a smile to my face every time I saw him. My regret is that I never had the chance to know him better. Please accept this inadequate note as a way of saying that your husband and father was a man who made even those who barely knew him–again, a sad fact for me–feel good about life and the people in it. I am so sorry. All the prayers and thoughts I have I send to you.

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