George Udo Goetz

George died on Thursday July 28, 2022, at his home in Sault Ste Marie, MI.  He was born Feb.24, 1946, in the City of Koln (Cologne), in Westphalia Germany to his unwed mother Maria Gotz.  His father was an American GI.  He was raised in Germany in his beloved city by his mother and his maternal grandparents Mathias and Maria Gotz, who predeceased him and had been married for 50 years.  He has two brothers in Germany named Mathias and Matthew Gotz, and many cousins.  His deceased mother, his brothers, and his Uncle Franz Gotz and Aunt Elizabeth meant the world to him, and he kept in touch with them by phone and visited about six times.

After eight years of formal schooling, George was accepted into a Retail Trade Apprenticeship with the German Post Office at the age of 14 following in the footsteps of his grandfather.  He worked there until the age of 21.  His curiosity and adventuresome spirit led him to work his way to America on a ship to discover his father’s family.  He learned he had many sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles and cousins too many to list. 

He applied for a green card and while citizenship was pending, worked briefly at Ford Motor Company in Detroit, then got an apprenticeship to become a Master Baker under the owner of Everfresh Bakery in Detroit.  He worked as a baker for twenty years.  While working at Everfresh he met and married Diane Scott May 25, 1969.   He then bought his own bakery on Harson’s Island.  His beloved only daughter Heidi Lynn Goetz was born on May 9, 1970, and they became a blended family with her mother’s two daughters from a previous marriage, Kim and Jill McElgin, older sisters to Heidi.  He became a proud Naturalized US Citizen Dec. 18, 1978.  Diane passed away in 1984.  Her parents were Robert Scott and Janet (Proven) Scott, both deceased.

Heidi Goetz married Robert Stenzel in 1998 and together they had a blended family of four children:  Meghan Stenzel -Reed (Jason), Amanda Stenzel-Oaks (Alex), Kirsten Leland, Kaitlyn Stenzel.  Meghan & Jason have three children: Hazel, Jason V. and Elsie.  Kirsten has one son: Jaxson for a total of four grandchildren and four great grandchildren of George U. Goetz.  George also helped to raise others:  Deborah Rice-Stone, Luther Rice, Marilyn Pellar, and Marco Schneider. He was very proud of all of them.

George U. Goetz got his Bachelor of Science Degree after attending Monroe County Community College and Eastern Michigan University graduating Suma Cum Laude in 1989 with a teaching certificate majoring in History and minoring in the German Language.  He taught school at Monroe High School for six years.  He was a qualified Soccer Referee for over 20 years and trained other referees and coaches.  He was instrumental in developing a Spring Soccer League for the City of Monroe, MI.  He also helped to institute Girls Varsity Soccer at Monroe High School.  He planned and participated in taking Monroe County HS Youth to both Germany and its surrounding four countries, as well as a second trip to Italy for Friendship Soccer Games with scholarships and uniforms funded by Lazy Boy.  In 1993 he moved to Brimley in the Upper Peninsula and became a soccer coach for the Sault Ste Marie High School bringing them to their first ever District win.

Always the entrepreneur, in 1993 he was lured to the UP that he loved and bought a business called Iroquois Grocery in partnership with Pauline Rice.  He became known as “Mr. Sank You” as he could not pronounce “th” to sake thank you!  He was also known as “German George” all over Brimley and Sault Ste. Marie.  He operated the store from 1994 to 2004 and then was supposed to retire but bought a home on Lake Superior that had an old cabin on the water.  He renovated it creating another business called the “Lake Superior Beach House” that was advertised on VRBO as a vacation rental from 2006 to 2020.  The business thrived but his health became a greater challenge.  He then sold and moved to Sault Ste Marie, MI to work on his book “The Enemy’s Child” about his life growing up in war-torn Germany after WWII. 

While operating the VRBO he also found time to work at the Bay Mills Resort and Casino organizing and operating the new employee kitchen.  Never to sit still he also worked as a cook and kitchen manager for the Ojibwe Charter School providing breakfast and lunch to 100 students & faculty who loved his real mashed potatoes.  It was his pleasure to also provide a remote lunch once a year for several years for a downstate bicycle club who toured the U.P. It was his honor to serve his granddaughter Meghan who was part of the group.

George’s physical limitations from losing part of his foot from gout and diabetes and having a stent in an artery for over 20 years did not stop him from continuing to volunteer at the organization that he helped to found in 2004 called “Friends of Pendills Creek Hatchery” that puts on a Youth Fishing Event annually.  He was just honored with a pin for over 250 hours of work at the hatchery and was pleasantly surprised.  He served as President of this non-profit many times.

He was also active as a trustee then treasurer for the Bay Mills-Brimley Historical Research Society.  His specialty was showing off the Wheels of History Train Museum and getting new members or donations for both groups.  People loved talking to him.  It was his idea to put in a Model Railroad Exhibit in the Caboose depicting the 1930’s towns of Brimley, Bay Mills, Wellsburg and Raco.  It should be completed next year by John Morrison.

George loved reading and doing crossword puzzles to keep his mind sharp.  He had an extensive collection of books in his library.  His love of dogs was legend!  He always said he hoped his job in heaven would be to take care of the dogs he had that walked the rainbow bridge before him.  He was not afraid of death and welcomed seeing his mother and grandparents again.  He had accepted Jesus as his savior and knew he would go to heaven.

So many were fascinated by his gift for storytelling.  People from all walks of life loved his sense of humor and knowledge of the world.  His humor, large personality, and loud voice could fill a room.  No one was a stranger to him.  He loved sharing his wisdom and opinions and helping others. German George leaves a huge hole in the hearts of all who knew him, especially his partner of 37 years.

A Celebration of his life will be held Thurs. Aug. 4, 2022 @ 5:30 PM at the River Raisin Banquet Center 8 N. Monroe St. Monroe, MI 48161.  Dinner will be provided.  RSVP (734) 889-9463.

His ashes will be spread Aug. 13, 2022, at Mission Hill Cemetery in Brimley, MI @ 2 PM with a Memorial Spaghetti Dinner from 4-7 PM at the Brimley VFW Post 8958 W. M-28 Brimley, MI 49715.  Tickets available at the door for $15 with proceeds to benefit the historical society.

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