Claude H. Unrath

Claude H. Unrath, 97, of Hartford passed away on Sunday, March 20, 2016 at the home of his daughter in Coloma.  

He was born on June 20, 1918 in a farmhouse on Rush Lake in Hartford, Michigan.   He was the 2nd son of Henry and Maude (Rice) Unrath, both of whom preceded him in passing.  Claude grew up on the lake where he started a life long endeavor of trapping, hunting and fishing.   He attended a one-roomed school house until the 8th grade and then went to Hartford High School where he played football and graduated in 1936.

On December 8, 1936 Claude eloped to Coldwater, Michigan and married the former Doris Butzbach of Bainbridge.  She preceded him in death in 2000 after nearly 64 years of marriage. 

Claude was drafted into World War II in June of 1944 and served his country proudly as a Navy Seaman on the U.S.S. Gosper in the South Pacific until January of 1946.   After serving our country he returned home where he worked for the Watervliet Paper Mill for over 25 years serving as the superintendent of power and chief of their fire department at the mill.  After he left the mill in 1968 he spent time working for the State of Michigan, Kemper Insurance and Continental Insurance as a boiler inspector.  He retired in 1982 from Continental Insurance.  Throughout the years he also served in various community roles including serving as Supervisor of Hartford Township, board trustee for both Watervliet Community Hospital and the Hartford Fire Board.  He later served as a member of the Hartford Board of Review and was a founding member of the Hartford Foundation for Quality Education.   He and Doris enjoyed being member of the JOY group at Hartford Federated Church as well. 

Along with his time outdoors hunting and fishing, Claude enjoyed farming and in more recent years meeting with his morning coffee club, enjoying nature on the farm and spending time with family.  He also grew fond of following the Michigan State Spartans and Detroit Tigers. 

Claude is survived by his children – (Claude) Richard (Bernice) Unrath of Lucas, Kentucky, Garry (Cindy) Unrath of Hartford, Michigan and Janet (Keith) Griffin of Coloma, Michigan and his grandchildren – Sandra Unrath Justus, Lisa Unrath Rogers, Dana (Dan) Unrath Behler, Mark Unrath, Seth Griffin, Brock Griffin, Joel Griffin, Jonathan Griffin and several great grandchildren.  

Along with Claude’s wife, he was preceded in death by a twin son and daughter in 1947 and his best friend and brother, Maurice Unrath, in 1973.   

The family will welcome friends Wednesday, March 23rd from 5-8 PM at Duffield & Pastrick Family Funeral Home in Coloma.  Funeral services to honor his memory will be held at 11 AM on Thursday, March 24th at the funeral home with Military Rites taking place.   Pastor Corey Kugle will officiate.  Burial will follow in Watervliet Cemetery.  Those wishing to leave a message or share a memory with the family online may do so at

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in Claude’s name may be made to Southern Care Hospice or Hartford Public School Foundation for Quality Education. 

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