Cover photo for John F. Townsend's Obituary
1933 John 2024

John F. Townsend

May 22, 1933 — February 27, 2024


John F. Townsend, age 90, of Bellevue, Michigan passed away peacefully on February 27, 2024, surrounded by his loving family. He was born on May 22, 1933, to Harley and Nellie (Teeter) Townsend in Castleton Township, Michigan. 

He was a graduate of Battle Creek Central High School, Class of 1951. John began college at Michigan State University, transferring to Western Michigan University to earn his BBA. He also, proudly served our country in the United States Marine Corps during the Korean War. 

Following his military service, John married Shirley Swanson and enjoyed many years of employment with Archway Cookies, retiring as Vice President. Together they had five amazing children, Debrah Riegel, Mark (Lynn) Townsend, Pamela (Steve) Stewart, Susan (Ray) Sawyer, and Barbara (Craig) Hoekstra. He later changed his career to law enforcement and joined the Sheriff’s Department in 1989, serving both Barry and Calhoun County until retiring in 2002. He was deeply involved in both communities, serving as a firearms instructor teaching police officers as well as civilians to shoot. 

On June 1, 1996, John married Barbara Sweet in Assyria Township. He was a dedicated member of Baseline Church, VFW, American Legion, NRA, Centerline Gun Club in Calhoun County where he taught Hunter Safety classes for kids, CPL Classes, and many other activities there. John served as field security at the 1st Battle Creek Balloon Festival and continued that service for the following several years. He also held the position of Emergency Services Director for Calhoun County Office of the Sheriff and Commander of Michigan Sheriff’s Mounted Association for fourteen years. 

His dedication and kindness will be remembered fondly by family, friends, and community members alike.

John was a devoted husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, cherished by all who knew him. He is survived by his wife, Barb Townsend; his five children, Deb, Mark (Lynn), Pam (Steve), Sue (Ray), and Barb (Craig); his eleven grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by parents, Harley V. and Nellie N. Townsend; brothers, Dale, Charles, and Buryl Townsend; as well as sister, Mary White.

A visitation will be held at Baseline Church, 9617 Baseline Road, Battle Creek, MI, 49017 on Tuesday, March 5, 2024, from 4:00 pm - 7:00 pm & Wednesday, March 6, 2024, from 10:30 am - 11:30 am.

The funeral service to celebrate John's life will be held on Wednesday, March 6, 2024, 11:30 am, also at Baseline Church, with Pastor Ben Stoffel officiating. A committal service with military honors will follow at Fort Custer National Cemetery, 15501 Dickman Road, Augusta, MI, 49012.

He will be dearly missed, but his legacy of love and service will continue to inspire those who were fortunate enough to know him. If desired, memorial contributions are suggested to Baseline Church or Help4Paws, 9343 E. Jones Road, Bellevue, MI 49021.

Arrangements have been entrusted to Kempf Family Funeral and Cremation Services, 2838 Capital Ave SW, Battle Creek, MI 49017. Please visit to view the online obituary, to sign the online guest book or to leave the family condolences.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of John F. Townsend, please visit our flower store.


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