Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

David W. Paynter

BESSEMER, Mich. - David W. Paynter, 80, of Bessemer, passed away peacefully with his family by his side on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023.

Dave was born on Feb. 14, 1943, in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, to Vivian (Kelto) and Walter Paynter. He moved to Bessemer as an infant.

Dave attended school in Bessemer and graduated from A.D. Johnston High School in 1962. He worked at Indianhead Ski Resort before the hill was first opened. He learned to operate heavy equipment during the hill construction.

Dave enlisted in the U.S. Army on Nov. 3, 1964. He became an aircraft mechanic and crew chief with the 92nd Aviation Company and flew with his assigned plane into Special Forces camps in Vietnam.

Dave was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for an act of heroism on Dec. 16, 1965, while serving in the Vietnam War. The Distinguished Flying Cross is awarded for true gallantry and selfless action in combat against an armed enemy force. Dave was honorably discharged on Sept. 13, 1966. He was proud of his military service and encouraged students to consider the military for direction in life.

Upon his discharge from the Army, Dave attended Gogebic Community College in Ironwood. He also attended Northern Michigan University in Marquette, where he graduated with a degree in industrial arts.

During his 27-year teaching career, Dave taught woodshop, metal shop, drafting, mechanical drawing, math and driver's education for the Wakefield Public Schools. He also served as the Wakefield High School Ski Team coach. He retired from teaching in 1998. Dave often said that the greatest rewards of his teaching career were the friendships he made with students and the impact that his students had on his life. Dave enjoyed seeing his former students out in the community and hearing their life stories.

Dave was a skilled carpenter. He shared his talent with his children, teaching them much more than basic carpentry skills. He was a humble, compassionate, kind and helpful man. He was so very proud of his kids and their life accomplishments and expressed his pride often.

Dave worked at Powderhorn, Indianhead and Blackjack Ski Resorts as a ski instructor and, after retiring from teaching, as a chair lift operator. His cheery "good morning" greeted many skiers. He was a member of Sharon Lutheran Church in Bessemer, where he served on the church council for a number of years. He also served on the Gogebic County Federal Credit Union board for several years. He was a lifetime member of the Bessemer American Legion Post 27 and Bessemer Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3673, was a volunteer driver for the local Disabled American Veterans' chapter and a dedicated member of the local military honor guard. Dave was instrumental in establishing the Sons of the American Legion Squadron 27 in Bessemer. He was honored to serve on the construction and set up crew for the Vietnam Moving Wall display in Bessemer, in 2008. Dave loved music and played the bass horn in Marty's Goldenaires for 32 years.

Dave married Kathryn "Kathy" Adams on Jan. 31, 1981, at Sharon Lutheran Church. He often told his kids that Kathy was the love of his life.

Dave is survived by his wife of 42 years, Kathryn Paynter; his children, Kristy (Paul) Recla, Ironwood, Craig Paynter, Bessemer, and Kari (Luke) Spaete, Duluth, Minnesota; his grandchildren, Mason (Kaitlyn) Recla, Logan Recla, Nora Spaete, Casey (Cole) LaBeske, Tyler (Megan) Paynter and Amanda (Mike Lotzer) Paynter; 10 great-grandchildren; two sisters, Luetta Flaa, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Ruth (David) Ruff, Marquette; his sister-in-law, Sue Paynter, of Vermont; three brothers-in-law, Greg (Barb) Adams and Bob Adams, both of Ramsay, and Rick Adams, Bellaire, Michigan; and many nieces, nephews and cousins. Papa Dave also enjoyed spending time with his "bonus" grandkids, Amber, Ben, Jake, Joey, Owen, Kaylea, Anna and L2. He will be remembered by a long list of lifelong friends.

Dave was preceded in death by his parents; a son, Lee David Paynter; a granddaughter, Judi Paynter; two brothers, James "Tiny" Paynter and Ron Paynter; his father-in-law and mother-in-law, Louis "Ike" and Beverly Adams; and two brothers-in-law, Bob Flaa and Thomas Adams.

David W. Paynter will be remembered at a memorial service on Monday, Oct. 16, at 11 a.m., preceded by visitation at 9:30 a.m., at Sharon Lutheran Church,100 E. Sellar St., in Bessemer, with Dave's cousin, the Rev. Paul Kelto officiating.

A private committal service will take place at the Hillcrest Cemetery in Bessemer, with full military honors accorded by the Bessemer American Legion Post 27 and Bessemer VFW Post 3673 Honor Guard, assisted by the U.P. Funeral Honors Team.

Interment will follow.

A luncheon will be served at the VFW Post 3673, 605 W. Lead St., in Bessemer, following the memorial.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the DAV Chapter 66, in care of Tom DeCarlo 520 W. Southland Ave., Ironwood, MI 49938, or Regional Hospice Services, 652 E. Cloverland Ave., Ironwood, MI 49938.

The family wishes to thank Regional Hospice Services, especially Paula, Gary, Matt and Linda; the Gogebic Medical Care Facility staff, particularly the first floor personnel; Jerald Rocco and his staff; Dr. Sheri Ewing and her staff at the Ironwood VA Clinic; and John Frello and Linda at the Gogebic County veterans' service office.

Dave often ended his conversations with, "Thanks for being mine." We all say, "Thanks for being ours." Thanks for the memories, Papa Dave.

Jerald Rocco, owner and manager of Lakeside Memorial Chapel Inc., in Wakefield, is assisting the family with arrangements. To send online condolences, please go to