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Ellen was born Nov. 6, 1928, to Shirley Stoddard Heystek and Joseph Jan Heystek in Flint. She had three older sisters, Eleanor (Penny), Elizabeth (Betty) and Loujane, and then a brother, Joe, was born two years later. Sadly, their father passed when mom was only 4 years old, but the family was raised with love by their strong, independent mother. Ellen graduated from Flint Central High School in June and couldn't wait to marry Robert Claude Wheaton on July 26, 1947 that same summer! She lived her life as Bob's wife in Grand Blanc and as mom to the three daughters she loved so much.
Mom and dad were delighted when they became grandparents to five grandsons. They had such wonderful times with their five boys, whether celebrating birthdays with the money grab bag, at holiday gatherings, in their RV at Little Finger Campground on Lake Leelanau, or having one-on-one overnight adventures. It was a shock to the entire family when two years after his early retirement, and just weeks after turning 60, dad died of a heart attack on July 14, 1987.
At 58, mom had no choice but to carry on, and she did so with the love and guidance of her family. Mom was incredibly proud of the fine men her grandsons became, continuing to be an integral part of their lives. In 1989, Raymond Whiting became a companion to mom for the next 20 years. The blessing of Raymond was how special he made our mom feel. Together, they moved from Flint to Traverse City in 2008, the year before Raymond passed. Until July of 2017, mom was loving life at Bay Ridge Independent Living. We used to joke that she was living life as if she were in a college dorm, with all her friends and activities, with no tests to take! It was fun to watch her truly become "just Ellen" for the first time in her life. This also gave her the opportunity to know and love her six great-grandchildren, who all enjoyed playing with the matchbox cars at "Great-Gramma Ellen's."
Her final home (as she always proudly stated time and again this past year) was at Boardman Lake Glens with the beautiful, peaceful views of the lake from every window. We are forever indebted to the staff for the loving, patient care she received from every single caregiver at Inverness. Additionally, Just Like Family provided our mom with two "adopted daughters", Laura Wilson and Gail Jones, who supported our mom and us through her final years.
Ellen is survived by daughters, Kathryn Ann Mead and Marsha Ellen Wheaton, of Traverse City; her grandsons include Marcus Robert (Robyn) Wheaton Mead and children, Meredith, Madeline and Wesley, of Traverse City, Greg (Angela) Mead and children, Aiden, Hudson and Brice, of Grand Rapids and Elk Lake, and Doug Mead, of Traverse City. Additionally, she will be missed by her sister-in-law, Joann Heystek, of Montrose; and many much-loved nieces, nephews and extended family and friends. We are grateful that so many were able to visit mom this past year.
A memorial service for Ellen will be held on Friday, Jan. 11, 2019 at Central United Methodist Church in Traverse City. The family will greet extended family and close friends at 1 p.m. with Pastor Chris Lane officiating the service at 2 p.m. Light refreshments will be served in the church fellowship hall for further celebration of mom's life.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations of any size be sent to either Hospice of Michigan, 10850 E. Traverse Hwy. #1155, Traverse City, MI 49684, or Silver Muzzle Cottage Rescue and Hospice, 3785 Rice Road NW, Rapid City, MI 49676.
Ellen has been cremated and will join her Robert at Evergreen Cemetery in Grand Blanc, at a later date.
Please visit www.lifestorytc.com to sign the guestbook and share your thoughts with the family.
All arrangements are handled with excellence by Life Story Funeral Home.
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