Obituaries: 03-09-23

James DiFrancia

James R. (J.D.) (Jive) DiFrancia, age 75, an avid motorcyclist who loved old movies and music, passed away in his home in Glendale, Ariz., on January 25.

Born in Toledo on October 16, 1947, he graduated from Anthony Wayne High School, where he was a member of the wrestling team, in 1965. He went into the U.S. Army in 1967 and served in Vietnam. He worked for Johns Manville for 25 years. A lifetime member of the Spirits Motorcycle Club, he loved riding his White Buffalo with his fellow brothers. When he was younger, he loved dancing and listening to the bands at the Swanton Coliseum (The Sting Rays). His favorite team was the Pittsburgh Steelers. He enjoyed drag racing, WWF wrestling and watching old westerns, especially “The Duke” John Wayne, his favorite.

He moved from Maumee to Miami, Fla., in 1986 because he wanted warmer weather and there he went to work for the Coca-Cola Co. He then moved to Ocala, Fla., until 1998, when he moved to Glendale, Ariz.

Jim is survived by his sister, Sandra Worley; daughter, Corrina M. Lewis and grandson, Austin; stepchildren, Shawn Heath, Dallen (Becky) Heath, Heather (Brian) Wills and Crystal (Ivan) Heath; 16 grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; nephew, Rick (Jamie) Grabowski; nieces, Mary Lynn (Jim) Czech and Tina (Donald) Robinson; and special friends, Vicky DiFrancia, Marv and Beck Kotnik, Lon and Pam Schooner and many more. He was preceded in death by his parents, Vincent and Lucille DiFrancia; grandparents, Amos and Edith Bowman and Anthony and Sarah DiFrancia; brother, John A. DiFrancia; and stepson, Jamie Heath.

Jim was a true and loyal friend to his club brothers, friends and family. He was loved by so many and will be missed by all. His celebration of life will take place at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 1 at the Iron Band Dogs Clubhouse at 132 E. Airport Hwy. in Swanton.

Ride free up in hog heaven, J.D., you will be missed.

Barbara Shipman Liggett

Barbara J. Liggett, age 74, passed away on Tuesday, February 28 at her Grand Rapids home, after a three-year battle with cancer. She made a brave and courageous decision to pursue hospice care. 

Barbara was born in Baird, Texas on August 21, 1948 to Jack C. Shipman (Judd, Texas) and Ruthie Dee Howard Shipman (Lindrith, N.M.), adding a fourth daughter to their family. She graduated in 1966 from Eula High School, where she attended first through 12th grades. She dearly loved the Eula community and remains lifelong friends with many of them. Her best friend, Joe McKee, will always be her lifelong friend. Barbara excelled in basketball and volleyball and was a member of the National Honor Society. She also received a history award her senior year. She married her high school sweetheart, Al Liggett, and spent two years in North Carolina, as he was drafted. Upon returning to Abilene, Texas, she had the most handsome baby boy, Joel Ray Martin, in November 1969. 

Barbara continued to enjoy playing recreation league volleyball. She worked in Abilene and was transferred to a new store in Altus, Okla. Two USAF men worked to set up the store and later, one of them stayed to work part time. Barbara and Al were married shortly after his completion of service on December 23, 1977 and were married for 45 years. They moved to Monclova, where Allison, a beautiful baby girl, was added to their family in August 1983. Barbara worked for Dave Lindsay after obtaining her real estate license from The University of Toledo. Her passions became helping everyone. She loved working as an activity director at the Elizabeth Scott Community with another great boss, Paul Bucher.

Barbara returned to Texas to help take care of her parents. She became the supervisor of Adaptive Recreation Center for the city of Abilene, where she enjoyed being the head of Special Olympics, a track and field coach and a basketball coach for “the Wrecking Crew.” A Unified Bocce player, Sherry Griffin, has always been a loyal and cherished friend. In 2016, Barbara and Al moved back to Ohio, where they enjoyed searching for unique items for their antique booth, Great Finds of Maumee, which became like a family.

Barbara’s parents predeceased her, as well as her beloved brother-in-law, Isadore Brossett; niece, Jerilyn Yawn Frejay; and great-nephew, Josh Ward. Barbara’s husband, best friend and love of her life, Al Liggett, passed away on July 20, 2021 after 43 years of marriage. Also deceased are her beloved in-laws, Bill and Ann Liggett.

Surviving Barbara are her sisters, Georgia Yawn (Abilene, Texas), Linda (Springtown, Texas) and her husband Byron Miller, and Nita Brossett (Abilene, Texas); her sisters-in-law, Jeri (John) Colvin, of Sylvania, Sandra Liggett Westfall and Chris Brown, of Sylvania and Barbara Liggett (Pedro) DeFarias, of Leonard Town, Md.; Barb and Al’s greatest accomplishments, their children: Allison Liggett (Adam) Roller and their children, Addison and Andrew, of Grand Rapids; and Joel Ray (Sarrah) Martin and their children, Reece, Elle and Carys Martin, of Evergreen, Colo.; many special cousins, foster sisters and brothers from Ohio, Texas and New Mexico; and one special cousin of New Mexico who has always been held in high regard, Donnie Miller. Barb’s special companion, her cat, Blue Bell, has been a source of comfort.

Family and friends will be received from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Friday, March 10 in the Hanneman Funeral Home, 24084 W. Second St., Grand Rapids, where funeral services will be conducted at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, March 11, followed immediately by interment in Beaver Creek Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be gifted to the Compelled Church, 8970 Jackman Rd., Temperance, MI 48182 for its mortgage payoff or to the Eula High School Athletics Department, 6040 FM 603, Clyde, Texas 79510-6610. To share a fond memory or condolence with the family, visit 

Jack Wilson

Jack Leroy Wilson, age 84, passed away on Thursday, March 2, after a brief illness. 

Born in Toledo on July 7, 1938, he was the only child of Elmer E. and Betty J. (McDonald) Wilson, of Maumee. He was introduced to the world of automobiles at a young age as his dad was a driver and would take Jack with him as he traveled to midget races across Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Pennsylvania in the late 1940s. From 1949 to 1952, his dad shifted gears from racing midget race cars to stock cars in the early days of NASCAR, where Jack worked the pits. They competed at the first Southern 500 at Darling-ton Motor Speedway in 1950 and Daytona International Speedway when it was still raced on the beach. Jack’s passion for cars, racing and wrenching on just about anything with an engine would follow him throughout his life. 

He attended Maumee schools and graduated in 1956. During his high school years, he discovered another great passion, football. In 1955, his junior year, however, he sustained a serious injury and was told he wouldn’t walk again. Amazingly, about a week later, he regained his feeling and was able to walk, but the doctors refused to let him play his senior year. Upon graduation in 1956, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. During the next three years, while serving his country, he reignited his career and played on a traveling football team for the Marines, here and abroad. 

After discharge from the Marine Corps, Jack began his career at Columbia Gas and played football for Bill Hart’s T-Birds. Shortly thereafter, he began his semi-pro football career with the Toledo Tornadoes as an offensive and defensive lineman. The Tornadoes played their home games at Waite High School, but their presence was short-lived, lasting from 1961-1964. In 1964, when the franchise dissolved, he was traded to The Ironmen, of Wheeling W.Va., but instead of moving, decided to hang up his shoulder pads and helmet permanently to start his family with the love of his life, Pat. 

The two met in May 1960 while both were working at Columbia Gas. Jack, while leaving work, drove past Patricia Miller (soon to be Wilson) and when their eyes met it was love at first sight. In 1962, they became Mr. & Mrs. Jack Wilson and in July 1966, they had the first of their four children, a baby girl named Patti. Then, four years later in September 1970, a second child, another baby girl named Kris was born. While pregnant with Kris, they purchased what would be “Heaven on Earth,” the cabin on Whiskey Lake in Ontario, Canada. Over the next few years, Jack stayed busy continuing his passion for cars, buying insurance totals and rebuilding them to keep them in newer vehicles and make some extra money fixing and selling the ones he didn’t want. 

During the winter, he and Pat operated a snow plowing business – he had four plow trucks and Pat performed all the secretarial work. He would plow snow all night and work at the Gas Company during the day. In April 1975, they had their third child, a baby boy named Jack. During the next five years, he continued doing what he loved, working on cars, plowing snow, taking family vacations to the cabin in Canada and being the best husband and father he could be. In December 1980, they had their fourth and final child, another baby girl named Megan. 

In 1994, Jack retired from Columbia Gas after 34 years. Retirement life was great, as he got to do exactly what he wanted, which mainly consisted of doing things for his kids. Whether it was bringing gas if they ran out, picking up a wrecked snowmobile 300 miles away or just bringing grapes or chicken over, he was always there. He was constantly looking for a deal – on the weekends, you could always find him at an auction, flea market or swap meet. Jack was an avid outdoorsman and loved going to the cabin in Canada, where he enjoyed many great fishing trips with his friends and made a lifetime of memories on summer family vacations spent with their Canadian friends, who are considered family. 

He enjoyed many snowmobile trips to Michigan and Canada with his son and sons-in-law (the guys). Jack loved working with his hands, a passion that had been in the Wilson family for generations. He was proud to be able to pass this along to his kids and continue that legacy. He was proud of his accomplishments but prouder of his kids’ and grandchildren’s accomplishments. Jack did everything with drive and the desire to be the best right to the end. He definitely was the best husband, father and “Poppie” anyone could ever ask for. 

Jack is survived by his loving wife of 60 years, Patricia Wilson; children, Patti (James) Roloff, Kristine (Troy) Walborn, Jack (Tonya) Wilson and Megan (Steven) Devich; grandchildren, Bailee, Kylie, Gabby, Olivia, Troy, Hailey, Lilliana, Keith, Jack, Stella, Margot and Collette; lifelong friends, Brett Montague and Bill Grinonneau; Canadian family, Dennis and Diana Carney and family; and his little companion, Lucy (miniature Schnauzer). He was preceded in death by his parents, Elmer and Betty Wilson; son-in-law, Keith Morse; and lifelong friends, Mick Halbert and Ed Reiter.

The family would like to give a special thank-you to the ICU department at St. Anne’s – the doctors and the nurses were so kind. We couldn’t ask for a better place to go through something so emotional.

Visitation took place on March 7 at the Holland-Springfield-Walker Funeral Home in Holland. The funeral service was conducted on March 8 at the funeral home, followed by interment. Memorial contributions may be made out to the ICU at St. Anne’s Hospital.

Ann Marie Graber

Ann Marie Graber passed away on Wednesday, March 1. She was born on May 8, 1940 in Chicago, Ill., to Rudy and Irene (Van Zandt) Novak. She moved to Park Forest, Ill. in 1955. Ann Marie graduated from Rich Township High School in 1958. She married her high school sweetheart and the love of her life, Steve Graber, on November 15, 1958 and they shared 63 loving years until he passed away in 2022.

Ann Marie was a loving, devoted mother and homemaker to her family. She enjoyed crafting of many kinds, including crocheting, needlepoint and cross-stitch. The joys of her life were her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Along with her husband, Steve, Ann Marie was preceded in death by her parents, Rudy and Irene Novak; brothers, Randy Novak and Jim Novak; sister, Jackie Peacock; daughter-in-law, Barbara Graber; and son-in-law, Bob Sell. She is survived by her son, Steven (Barbara) Graber; daughters, Beverly (Bob) Sell and Becky (Tom) Garner; sister, Patrice Demund; grandchildren, Holly Ripley, Brandy Suarez, Ciara (Chris) Voland and Tommy (fiancée, Carrie) Garner; and great-grandchildren, Mackenzie, Shane, Braedyn and Chloe Stasa, Dante and Drake Delarosa and Korie Ripley, Hunter and Adalynn Voland.

Family and friends were received on March 5 at Maison-Dardenne-Walker Funeral Home in Maumee, where the funeral service was conducted on March 6, followed by entombment in Highland Memory Gardens. The family wishes to extend our sincere thanks to the Ebeid Hospice for their compassionate care. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Ebeid Hospice. Condolences may be made online to the family at

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