Serving West Michigan Since 1899

J. Brooke Paulger

December 2, 1952 - February 1, 2021
Saugatuck, MI


Life Story / Obituary


Major J. Brooke Paulger (Ret.) passed away on Monday, February 1, 2021. Born December 2nd, 1952 to parents John and Marjorie, Brooke was affectionately known around town as “The Major”, he served in the USMC from 1976 to 1996. He earned numerous accolades during his service including the Meritorious Service Medal, Marine Achievement Medal with “v” for valor in battle, the Kuwait Liberation Medal, and various campaign medals for his service in The Persian Gulf War and numerous overseas deployments. As a fighter pilot, he especially loved flying the A4 and Harrier jets. During his cross-country training flights on the Harrier, he’d often make quick visits to Saugatuck. With a call to his friends, everyone would rush to Oval Beach for the flyover. Then, buzzing up the Kalamazoo River he’d stop in front of the family house where he grew up to tip his wings for dad. One last stop was over the Clearbrook Golf Course before meeting back up with his squad. His last station was at China Lake, California where he served as a test pilot.

After retiring from the USMC, Brooke started two iconic Saugatuck bars, The Red Dock and The White Dog. The Major continued his career in the sky as a commercial pilot for several years, officially retiring in 2018. After hanging up his wings, he enjoyed buying, collecting, and “selling” classic cars. His favorite car was a 1982 VW Vanagon bus, which he named “Stella”. His favorite place to take Stella was D.H. Day Campground in Glen Arbor, Michigan, where he would enjoy camping trips with his family and friends each summer. Brooke also enjoyed many pontoon cruises each season up and down the Kalamazoo River and out to Lake Michigan with a cold Heineken in hand.

Brooke is survived by his wife Terri and two daughters Kristen Vander Vusse and Lindsi Hagger, as well as step-sons Peter and Bobby White. He is also survived by his sisters Barbara Paulger, Nancy Schmitt, and three grandchildren Isabella, Jaxson, and Brody.

Along with his family, he is also survived by many friends that loved and respected him, that are now entrusted to keep his Saugatuck traditions, memories, and legend alive.

Services were held at Riverside Cemetery and a celebration of his life and love of the Saugatuck area will be held at a later date. Arrangements are by Dykstra Funeral Homes-Mulder Chapel.