Life Story / Obituary
Loving, patient, and kind, Guillaume “Guy” Yvonnou lived a life rich in family, friends, and a love of the outdoors. A man who enthusiastically embraced each moment life gifted him, Guy’s warm heart and gentle spirit touched, moved and inspired all who were blessed to know him. Guy created beauty and laughter wherever he was and in so doing was a powerful source of hope and happiness. Treasured by many, Guy will long be remembered in the hearts and lives of those he loved and served.
Born in Rosporden, France on January 28, 1928, Guy and his twin brother Francois, along with his other brothers Yves and Albert, grew up on the family farm in the Province of Brittany. Early life imposed many hardships on the young farmer including the death of his mother when he was only seven. Guy quit school after 8th grade to tend the farm and his family full time, and his responsibilities grew tremendously at the mere age of 14 when his father also died.
Despite the hardships he had to endure, Guy possessed a natural optimism and enthusiasm for life. On the rare occasion that he was not working the farm, Guy was often found at the nearest dance hall dancing all night long. Content with life in France, no one in his family ever considered leaving France; however, after proudly serving in the French military and hearing about other men from Brittany finding work in Canada, Guy could not deny the stirrings in his own heart. He confidently hopped a boat and bravely endured the two-week voyage to Ontario not knowing a single soul. Upon arriving in Canada, he quickly found work in the tobacco fields with other Bretons. Guy enjoyed working side by side with his fellow Frenchmen. They worked hard all summer, saved all their money, and then spent every penny dancing and drinking all winter long.
After several years in the tobacco fields, Guy made his way to Michigan with a few friends and started working as a gardener. In gardening, Guy had found his true calling. He grew to love his work so much that he eventually decided to branch out with his own business; Guy Landscaping. Spending his days outside creating beauty for others to enjoy, coupled with the freedoms of being his own boss proved a perfect fit for Guy. For many decades, Guy unhesitatingly rose early every morning at 5:30 am and never needed an alarm.
Serendipitously, Martha Joo’, an immigrant from Hungary, was working as a dog walker for a prominent Detroit businessman. One fateful morning, from her window, she spotted a handsome young Frenchman cutting the lawn. Soon the young couple met, and despite the challenges of their language barriers quickly fell in love. Guy’s calm, patient French demeanor perfectly countered Martha’s fiery Hungarian personality.
The happy couple moved to Livonia where they lovingly built their family that soon included their treasured son Alex. A devoted family man, Martha and Alex were Guy’s world, and he treasured every moment he shared with them. Martha was Guy’s everything, and for more than 50 years of marriage, Guy committed his life to her good care. At the age of 81 Guy retired so that he could assure Martha was well taken care of for years. With his signature grace and kindness, Guy kept Martha as comfortable as possible and completely enveloped her with his love and appreciation.
Guy was a man who exuded enthusiasm and had many interests. He quickly fell in love with hockey when he came to North America. A huge Red Wings fan, Guy often shared that he felt so excited and nervous about every game that it made his stomach hurt. Seeing them with the Stanley Cup in 1997 after a 42-year drought was especially momentous for Guy. Of course, like a true Frenchman, Guy loved his soccer. As a proud American, his love for the US Soccer team inspired a loyalty that resulted in his unwavering cheers for them even rooting for them over France. Guy fell in love with country music when he first moved to Michigan. He especially loved the music of Glen Campbell, Roy Clark, and Hank Williams and often spent his Sundays working outside to the blaring sounds of their classic tunes. Though Guy was not overtly political, he consciously kept up with the news, carefully reading the daily newspaper and watching the news for two hours a day. It’s fair to say that Guy was obsessed about the weather. Of course, while much of his interest was rooted in his work as a landscaper, it was equally the result of his pure fascination with it. Without a doubt, next to his family, Guy’s pride and joy was his vegetable garden. He was particularly proud of his robust tomatoes and heartily shared them with his friends.
Whether working or playing, Guy wholeheartedly lived in the present. He poured himself fully into his labors and equally reveled in fun. He made friends without hesitation, laughed with his whole soul, playfully joked around, enjoyed his drink, and danced with relish. A powerful role model for others, Guy inspired all who knew him to find the gold in each moment and celebrate the gifts in our lives.
Clearly, the absence of Guy’s steadfast presence has left us with a profound sense of sadness and uncertainty. The world is significantly duller without his infectious smile and gentle spirit. May it afford deep comfort to know that he has reunited with his beloved and is happily dancing on Eternity’s divine dance floor. With many cherished memories of this good man in our hearts it now becomes our honor and privilege to carry his beautiful legacy forward. With each beautiful flower we enjoy, dance floor we hit with abandon, kindness we extend to another, and moment we commit to hope we keep Guy’s legacy alive and continue its inspiring ripple in the world.
Guillaume “Guy” Yvonnou, amazing husband to Martha and father to Alex, passed away in his sleep on August 27, 2017. Viewing will be Thursday, August 31 at the Neely-Turowski Funeral Home, 30200 Five Mile Rd in Livonia from 2 to 6 pm. There will be a 30-minute service at 6 pm and a dinner following at Fiamma’s at 7 pm (380 S. Main St, Plymouth).