Leander "Smokey" Southgate

leander southgate
Smokey Southgate, 86, of Bay City, formerly of Unionville, our outgoing, fun-loving, and dedicated husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, and friend was born into eternal life on the evening of Friday, January 4, 2019 at New Hope Bay. Smokey was born in Gilford Township on September 1, 1932, the son of the late Alvah and Mary (VanHove) Southgate. A graduate of Akron High School, Smokey went on to serve in the Naval Reserves prior to being drafted into the U.S. Army. While standing as best man in his cousin’s wedding, Smokey met the former Betty Socier who was the maid of honor for her sister, and so began their romance. Their first date was to a polka dance, and upwards of 90% of their dates ended up being to dances. They were united in marriage on September 22, 1956, recently celebrating their 62nd wedding anniversary. Smokey worked as a design engineer for Kuhlman Electric for four years and then went on to work for United Welders for twenty-one years. When they closed, he transferred to R.W.C. for another twenty-one years prior to retiring. Smokey did not attend any college, but self-taught himself in the designing of special welding equipment. He was a parishioner of Our Lady Consolota – Holy Family Church and enjoyed polka dancing, softball in his younger years, coaching both boys and girls softball teams, and camping. Smokey was a member of the Knights of Columbus, along with the Moose and Elk lodges. Smokey and Betty sold their home a few years back and chose to be full time RVers, living six months in Florida and six months in Sebewaing County Park in their fifth wheel.  He will forever be remembered for his love of his family, along with his kind and appreciative nature. Smokey leaves to cherish his memory, his devoted wife Betty and their children: Dale Southgate, Dennis and wife, Karen Southgate, Dave Southgate, Dean and wife, Cindy Southgate, and Tammy Millerwise. He was the loving and supportive grandpa of Joey, Ben, and Ally Southgate; Caleb and Addison Southgate; Ryan and Matthew Millerwise, and Brandon Hallock. Smokey also leaves behind his sister, Shirley and husband, Jerry Fox; in-laws, Wave Vermeersch, Jim and Judy Spinney, S. Gary and Jan Socier, Bill and Pam Socier, along with many nieces, nephews, and friends. In addition to his parents, Smokey was welcomed home to heaven by his father and mother-in-law, Edward and Elizabeth Socier. Smokey’s family will be present to receive visitors on Wednesday, January 9, 2019 from 4:00 PM until 8:00 PM with a 7:00 PM Vigil for Smokey officiated by Fr. Dale Orlik at Skorupski Family Funeral Home & Cremation Services, 955 N. Pine Rd., Hampton Twp. On Thursday, January 10, 2019, Smokey will be taken to Our Lady Consolota – Holy Family Church, 8370 Unionville Rd., Sebewaing, where visiting will continue from 10:00 AM until Smokey’s 11:00 AM Memorial Liturgy. Fr. Adam Maher will officiate with a luncheon to follow at church. Memorial contributions may be directed to the wishes of the family. Expressions of sympathy may be shared with the family online at www.skorupskis.com.

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  1. Many cherished memories of a classmate, and friend. Lots of ball games and the class reunions that were always fun. Love and prayers for all of “Smokes” family are sent to each of you today. Clint & Jaclyn

  2. Dear Betty and Family.
    So sorry to hear of Smokey’s death. I know he will be missed by all of you,especially you Betty.
    We are in Florida, so we can’t be with you to celebrate his life, but we will be with you in our thoughts and prayers. May our Lord be with you today and in the future.
    Love, Bob & Cheri

  3. Sadness and happiness to the family of Smokey. So many memories and stories I have heard over the years. Such a spirit did he have! He was a spunky guy thats for sure! Riding his bike and dancing, laughing, and being that fun, big hearted man is what I will remember. A great father and a great friend. He will be missed by so many. My thoughts and prayers are with each and everyone of you. Sincerely, Amy Kamrad

  4. My condolence to all of you. Aunt Betty, Dale, Denny, David, Dean and Tammy. Uncle Smoke was my godfather and I have lots of good memories of him and all the fun times we had …. especially Christmas In your basement. He had the most unique laugh I will never forget ! Love, Kristy

  5. Smokey, I was truly awed the first time I saw you and Betty dance at New Hope.
    I can easily say that you really are dancing with the stars.
    Till we meet again.

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