William Modzel

September 22, 1951 - November 22, 2022
Traverse City, MI


Life Story / Obituary


Bill Modzel went home to be with his Lord and Savior early in the morning of November 22, 2022

Bill was born at Henry Ford Hospital in Dearborn Michigan on September 22, 1951 to Henry and Lorraine Modzel. While his father trained as a cabinet maker the family lived with his grandmother, Florence Srull in Detroit.

When he was three they moved to Commerce Township, at that time known as the lake area, weekend vacationland of “the city”, which was the general name for the Detroit area. His father accepted a job at Ford Motor Company as a pattern maker.

This move was key to his love for fish and everything living in and around water. He spent his summer days with a net in one hand and a bucket in the other, exploring the lakeshore and swamps. He collected whatever creatures he could find to fill his many aquariums that occupied the family room of his very supportive parents.

He attended Walled Lake Central High School where his elective studies combined a biology and math major and an art minor. This same combination followed him while attending Oakland Community College, and studying a year at Lake Superior College. In 1972 he moved to Glen Arbor, living with one of his best friends, Doug Montgomery, and attended Northwestern Michigan College.

He met his future wife in 1976, marrying Sally in the fall of 1977. They had their only child, a daughter, Anna, in 1981.

Bill started Mod-Zel Screen Printing with his friend, Chuck Hollyday, in 1981. Chuck passed away in 1995, but Bill kept the business going until 2014, when Britten Media purchased his business. He worked for Britten until retiring late in the fall of 2017, having moved to his dream home in Leelanau County.

Bill was diagnosed with a brain tumor in March of 2018 and underwent surgeries and radiation throughout that year. He was left physically impaired from the surgeries, but never gave up hope of getting better. He kept an outstanding attitude throughout his adjustment to his new ’normal’.

He and Sally moved back to TC in the summer of 2019, so that Bill could be closer to medical care and therapies. It was then that he re-discovered his love of painting.

Late in April 2022, after having a seizure, he was admitted to Munson Medical Center and then moved to the Pavilions Rehab.

During Bill’s stay at the Pavilions Rehab unit, Sally called to check on him. The woman on the phone said, oh, he’s the gentleman in 610. Sally said yes, that’s him. Sally got to thinking about that brief exchange.

Bill was a gentleman…that is true. But more than that, Bill was a gentle man. There is a difference.

He was kind…patient…forgiving…never angry…always expecting the best out of people and accepting them, no matter what.

In May of 2022, Bill moved into an assisted living facility, where he continued to paint, in spite of all his physical limitations.

Bill had a deep love of the Lord, was a kind and gentle soul, and was respected and loved by his many friends and acquaintances.

His parents, Henry and Lorraine Modzel preceded him in death.

He is survived by his wife, Sally, and daughter Anna, and sister, Nancy Baker, numerous nieces and nephews, and his grand-pup, Hazel.

Per his wishes, Bill has been cremated. The family will have a time for visitation, Friday December 2 from 4pm to 5pm. There will be a small service at 5pm following the visitation. Bill’s ashes will be interned in Grand Traverse Memorial Gardens.

The family wants to extend their heartfelt thanks to Brandon Ackerman and the amazing staff of French Manor Terra.Their kindness, care and attention to making everything as comfortable as possible, was beyond all expectation. Shortly after moving there, Bill sent Sally a text saying, “Honey, you couldn’t have found a better place for me to live.” That was so true.

Also a big thank you to Hospice of Michigan for making Bill’s transition a gentle and peaceful time.

In lieu of flowers please consider a donation to the Little Traverse Bay Humane Society or Freedom Builders of America.


1300 W. Conway Rd. #9582

Harbor Springs, MI 49740

phone: 231.347.2396

Freedom Builders of America

250 E. Front St. #415

Traverse City, MI 49686

phone: 231.941.4171