Claude passed away Monday, December 27, 2021 with his son and wife of 64 years at his side. Claude was preceded in death by his sons, Gary Norman and Geoffrey Lee, his brother Terry, and his brother-in-law, Donald Vibert. He is survived by his wife, Esta (Vibert), son, Gregory (Jean), daughter-in-law, Karen Katt, grandchildren Jacqueline, Tyler (Liz), David, Joseph, Jebadiah, Abraham, Elias, great grandson Warren, brother, Randy (Karen), sister Kathy, sisters-in-law, Virginia (James) Spees, Susan (Mike) VanderLey, Ellie Vibert, Linda Katt, and many nieces and nephews.
Claude was born and raised on the South side of Grand Rapids, spending summers at the family cottage in Spring Lake, where he performed with the Spring Lake water ski troop and fell in love with power boating and sailing. He graduated from South High School in 1953, and throughout his life he found a deep connection with his SHS roots; he insisted on attending every class reunion, and just two weeks ago had lunch with his classmates. After high school he attended Grand Rapids “Junior” College and Michigan State University, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Restaurant and Hotel Management. While attending GRJC he met and immediately fell in love with Esta Katheryn Vibert. Claude and Esta were married the summer after he graduated from MSU and within four years they welcomed three rambunctious, kind-hearted sons who made our world a brighter place.
Claude was an entrepreneur at heart. While attending college he embarked upon his first business venture, Coffee Time Service, a coffee service delivering freshly brewed coffee to businesses in downtown Grand Rapids. After graduating college (Go Green!), with a growing number of non-coffee-drinking mouths to feed, Claude sold the coffee service and embarked upon his next entrepreneurial venture. He and Esta owned and operated the Steer Haus, a fine-dining steakhouse in Sand Lake, Michigan. Claude and Esta made many friends and acquaintances and curated fond memories for many people far and wide during the Steer Haus years. After closing the doors on his hospitality ventures, Claude’s entrepreneurial spirit decided to take a different direction. In 1989 Claude established Katt Insurance Agency. He provided personalized insurance services and created a niche insurance program for Michigan privately owned campgrounds. This venture brought him to every corner of our beautiful state of Michigan. Again, Claude and Esta made many friends and acquaintances along the way.
While spending summers on Lake Michigan, Claude spent winters hitting the downhill ski slopes. He was a lifetime member of the National Ski Patrol, chairman of the annual Cannonsburg Ski Swap for many years, and enjoyed the sport into his 70’s. He officially retired from the business world at the age of 82, and enjoyed the past four years spending time with Esta, family, and friends in Rockford and spending winters with their retirement community family in Estero Florida.
Claude and Esta would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the caring staff of Story Point Retirement community in Rockford, and to the caregivers of Emmanuel Hospice.
Visitation will be held at Stegenga Funeral Chapel (Belmont location) Wednesday, January 12 from 10-11 a.m. with the memorial service following at 11 a.m. Memorials in Claude’s name may be given to Emmanuel Hospice, 401 Hall St SW, Suite 263, Grand Rapids, MI 49503 or StoryPoint Rockford Senior Living, designated to transportation and enrichment services, 2885 10 Mile Road NE, Rockford, MI 49341.
Greg, Jean, and Family,
So sorry to hear that your Dad /Grandpa has passed away.
Our thoughts and prayers are with you this week and always.
Steve, Lori, and family
- Steve Hoving