Gary B. Virta, age 72, of Munising, died unexpectedly on Thursday, October 1, 2020. He was born in Munising on May 31, 1948 to the late Eugene and Doris (Harris) Virta. Gary graduated from Marquette Senior High School in 1966. He enlisted into the U.S. Navy on April 21, 1967 and served in the Pacific during the Vietnam War. Gary earned the Armed Forces Expeditionary, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign, Meritorious Unit Commendation and National Defense Service Medals. He was honorably discharged as a Yeoman Third Class on December 31, 1970. Gary returned home to Munising and fell for Diane Shaffstall one afternoon at the Dogpatch. They were married on May 20, 1972 and together raised their two children. Gary worked for MICHCON when he and Diane were first married and then went to work as a forester for CCI. Gary transitioned with the company when it became Benson Forest and worked there for years. He became a veneer purchaser for Manthei and retired from there….for two weeks, and then he went to work for Cold Springs Forestry, now known as Compass Lands as a staff forester. He and Diane were also owners of the Dairy Queen for twenty years where Gary was chief “Honey-Do” and maintenance man. The fall was Gary’s favorite time of year and he loved working on his 1938 Chevy Coupe. He also “loved” helping Diane decorate for every holiday season. Gary and Diane were blessed to have their grandsons live down the road and he enjoyed spending time with Tyler and Alex (the boys) every day. He especially loved bringing the boys to school on Thursday and Friday mornings and playing catch with them. Gary’s tragic death will be felt by all who knew him, and he will be especially missed by his wife, children, grandkids, brothers, and dear friends.
He is survived by his wife of over forty-eight years – Diane Virta of Munising; their daughter - Melissa (John) Nelson of Munising; their son – Christopher (Joan Patterson) Virta of Wilmington, NC; grandsons – Tyler and Alex Nelson; brothers – Ron (Susan) Virta of Missouri and Gene (Sandy) Virta of Harvey; in-laws – Theresa Virta, Willie (Ronalda) Shaffstall, Allie (Robert) Gariepy, John (Ann) Shaffstall, and Amy (John) Hillier; and numerous nieces and nephews. Gary was preceded in death by his parents Eugene Virta and Doris Ritari, brother Jeff Virta, parents-in-law Bill and Suzette Shaffstall, nieces Jodie and Jessica Virta, sister-in-law Marilyn Shaffstall, and aunt Allie Scholtes.
Services for Gary will be held on Wednesday, October 7, 2020. Visiting time with family and friends will be at the Bowerman Funeral Home from 11:00 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. Masks will be required and the funeral home staff will be assisting with social distance and compliance with executive orders. Military honors will be rendered by the American Legion and Vietnam Veteran Honor Guard at the Maple Grove Cemetery in Munising at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday.