17-year-old with ties to Greenville and Stanton dies unexpectedly


By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 11:27 am on Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Bruce “Tal” Bretzke, 17, died unexpectedly Saturday night or Sunday morning. The teen lived in Stanton and attended Central Montcalm Public School and Greenville High School. — Courtesy photo

STANTON — The Greenville and Stanton communities are mourning the loss of a young man.

Bruce “Tal” Bretzke III, 17, died unexpectedly Saturday night or Sunday morning at his home in Stanton. He was the son of Bruce and Kelly Bretzke.

“We’re devastated,” said Bruce Bretzke. “We had such a great day together. We were on a family outing, we went on bike rides, we watched movies together and then he went to bed. And he never woke up.

“He died in his sleep,” he said. “The autopsy was inconclusive. It’s a mystery at this point.”

Bruce Bretzke described his son as a sweet boy who loved his siblings Taylor, 16, Savannah, 10 and Titus, 9. He said his son enjoyed deer hunting and entrepreneurship and they planned on working together at Eagle Auto car lot in Turk Lake after Tal graduated.

“When he was little, we used to have to get after him because he would take his new toys that he had just gotten for his birthday and he would give them away to other kids,” Bruce Bretzke said.

Bruce Bretzke said he and his son were having a difficult time getting along recently and they stopped talking to each other. Bruce Bretzke volunteers for a prison ministry and while he was preaching on forgiveness at a local prison, he felt convicted to ask his son’s forgiveness. He did and he said Tal did the same. He’s so thankful they made up just a few days ago.

“He was such a sweet boy,” Bruce Bretzke said.

Tal attended Greenville Public Schools through the Schools of Choice program, but decided to switch back to Central Montcalm High School this past spring. He would have been a senior this autumn. The Central Montcalm High School counseling office will be open to students this week, according to Central Montcalm High School Principal Tony Petersen.

“There is no greater loss than a life cut short,” said Greenville Superintendent Pete Haines of Tal’s death.

Greenville High School Principal Jeff Wright spoke fondly of Tal.

“I loved Tal,” he said. “I enjoyed his personality, enjoyed being around him. He was one of those kids that you were just really drawn to. Other people wanted to be around him because he was fun. He was approachable. He was just a real likable kid.”

Wright said Tal participated in football and track and wanted to be a mixed martial arts fighter.
“We’re thinking of the family,” Wright said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to Tal’s family.”

A funeral for Tal will be 3 p.m. Thursday at Calvary Baptist Church in Greenville, where the Bretzke family attends. Visitation will take place from 1 to 3 p.m. before the funeral.

Paul Spittka, the pastor of student ministries at Greenville Community Church, said Tal’s loss will be addressed at the weekly summer youth group gathering 7 p.m. tonight at the church. All youths are welcome to attend.

“My Facebook is just lit up,” said Spittka of Tal’s death. “We’ve got 150, 160 teenagers who come here who knew him. If anyone needs someone to pray with or talk to, most of my adults are trained in basic counseling so we are offering that to anyone who needs it.”

Call the church at (616) 225-2105 ext. 105 for more information.

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