Ardith Lorraine Wingeier Westie died Jan. 12, 2018. She was born in Boston Township, Ionia County, in 1922 to Carl Lawrence Wingeier and Eva May Velzy Wingeier.
She attended Ionia High School and was graduated at 16. She was grateful to her Ionia high school debate coach, Maurice Fall, and her English teacher, Virginia Cooper. She won second place in the National 4-H Congress Canning Judging Competition that summer. Ardith graduated from Central Michigan College of Education (now CMU) as valedictorian. While there, she was influenced by fine faculty and fellow students, edited the yearbook, met and married Charles M. Westie. She became an excellent judge of literary style and of fellow human beings.
The signal event of Ardith and Charles' generation was World War II, and their correspondence in those years reflects the philosophy and ideals of that time. Daughter, Judith, was born in 1942.
In 1943 Charles volunteered for military service and later participated in the D-Day invasion at Normandy. Charles was grievously wounded, eventually resulting in the loss of his leg. He was discharged from the army in 1946. Ardith spent those years as a single mother and staff writer for the Michigan Education Journal in Lansing. The couple's faithful wartime correspondence documents much of that era and is in the Archives of Michigan.
Ardith and Charles added three more children to their family and participated together in Charles' acquisition of a doctorate in sociology from The Ohio State University. Charles taught at Michigan State University, while Ardith edited university publications for four years. They returned to Mt. Pleasant and spent the balance of their careers at CMU. Ardith edited the University Bulletin and chaired many special university events. She was revered by friends and associates for her excellent judgment, insight and advice. She and Charles were a resource for students in need of assistance and were especially supportive of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, students of color and students with disabilities. They participated in demonstrations against the Vietnam War and various environmental efforts. Ardith received the Distinguished Alumni Award from CMU in 1993.
Ardith and Charles enjoyed their close families and many friendships. Ardith was always an exceptional caregiver for her disabled husband, her children, both sets of parents and many others who needed her help. She and Charles often took their family camping in northern Michigan and camped from coast to coast in the 1950s. They bought a house in the village of Empire in 1971, and thereafter much of their time was spent in Leelanau County.
Ardith read voraciously and wrote thousands of letters. Through her correspondence she maintained connections with family and friends throughout the world. She loved literature, poetry, public affairs, art, music, film, dance, flowers, long outdoor views and sunsets.
Ardith was preceded in death by her parents; husband; sister, Carmen; and great-grandchildren, Aksel and Janie.
She is survived by her children, Judith (Kennard) Weaver, of Traverse City, John Westie, of Bolton, Vermont, Susan Hilton, of Traverse City, and Elizabeth Westie (Joel Brattin), of Worcester, Massachusetts; two sisters, Janice Bussard, of Spring Lake, and Carol (Christian) Harder, of Palo; nine grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren; a sister-in-law, Margaret Westie; and many beloved nieces, nephews and cousins.
Memorials honoring Ardith may be made to the Clarke Historical Library at CMU, the Empire Area Museum or the Michigan Barn Preservation Network.
The family would like to express profuse gratitude to Ardith's loving caregivers at Boardman Lake Glens, its manager Rose Selkirk and to Dr. B. Scott Groseclose.
A memorial service will be held in Empire in the summer with interment in Maple Grove Cemetery, Empire.
Published on January 21, 2018