Samuel Caleb James Gonzales, of Benton Harbor
Samuel Caleb James Gonzales, 17, of Benton Harbor, Michigan, son, grandson, athlete, outdoorsman, and friend to everyone he met died at 8:20 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, at Beacon Children’s Hospital in Memorial Hospital, South Bend, Indiana from injuries suffered in a motor vehicle accident on Jan. 8, 2021. His family is grateful for the first responders and hospital staff whose care helped provide one more week of life.
He was born on April 9, 2003, in Saint Joseph, Michigan to Nicole Renee Hernandez and Mat-thew James Gonzales. He was a senior at the W.A.Y. Eau Claire (Michigan) High School and had previously attended Niles Community Schools. He worked part-time at the McDonald’s res-taurant in Benton Harbor, and has lived in this area all of his life.
Sam was a member of the football, basketball, and track teams at Eau Claire. He enjoyed hunting throughout the area, fishing in area waters, and had fished in four of the Great Lakes. He also enjoyed camping, often on the shore of Lake Erie, but his greatest passion was riding on the Niles Skate Park.
Surviving family includes his mother, Nicole Hernandez of Benton Harbor and his father, Matt Gonzales, of Niles; grandparents Barbara Jones-Tokarz of Benton Harbor, Michael (& Robin) Flannery of Niles, and Lupe Gonzales of Benton Harbor; Sam’s siblings, Kiera Drake, Ja’korie Hernandez, Alandra, Avy’anna, and Aniyiah, Gonzales, and Vernon Price, Jr.; and an amazing circle of great friends.
The funeral service for Sam Gonzales was at noon on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021, at the Michiana Christian Embassy, 1922 E. Main St. in Niles with the Rev. Jeffrey Whittaker of the church officiating. Committal will follow at the Silverbrook Cemetery in Niles. Attendance will be limited, masks required, and social distancing practiced. Others may witness the service via the livestreamed broadcast on the Halbritter-Wickens Facebook page: facebook.com/halbritterwickensfuneralservices.
The family received relatives and friends on Friday at the church beginning at 10 a.m. Con-tributions in memory of Sam may be made to the Niles Skate Park, c/o City of Niles Depart-ment of Parks and Recreation, 333 North Second St., Niles, Michigan, 49120, http://www.nilesmi.org/departments_and_divisions/parks_and_recreation.php. Arrangements were made at the Halbritter-Wickens Funeral Home, 615 East Main St. in Niles. Online condo-lences may be left at halbritterwickens.com
Sam spent his seventeen years loving life, playing hard on the teams, hunting, fishing, and camping every chance that came along, and perfecting jumps at the skate park. All of his activities were completed with other people, and everyone became a friend, evidence of his quiet but firm belief in God and His mission to love people.