Elsie's Story

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Elsie May Starkey, 99, of Traverse City, passed away peacefully in her sleep at home on Tuesday, May 23, 2017. Born in Leelanau County on Feb. 13, 1918, she was the daughter of the late Frank Wilson and Sarah (Peck) Wilson.
She grew up in a small town in Leelanau County known as Oviatt. This town has disappeared but descendants of the Peck family still own and live in homes in the area. Elsie said what made her "tough" was growing up with six brothers. She spent many of her early years at her grandma and grandpa Peck's home.
After her first marriage in 1936 Elsie moved to Muskegon and started her family. Elsie and Verno returned to Northern Michigan and settled in Honor to raise their children, Esse, Karen and Serena. After the 1953 death of her first husband, Verno Kuerth, Elsie married Glenn Starkey in 1955. They had two children, Robert and Lois, and continued to live in Honor. Elsie became a step mom and step grandma to Glenn's children Virginia, Mildred (Ming) and Laurel (Lori) and their children. Glenn preceded her in death in 1991.
Elsie loved to garden and for many years raised a vegetable garden for canning and sharing with neighbors at her home in Honor. She also loved to plant flowers. To help with the family finances she did what she loved the most, taking care of children. She baby sat several children throughout the years, many of whom still call her Grandma. It was a role she had always enjoyed.
Elsie was well known for her delicious cinnamon rolls, apple dumplings, pies and crocheted afghans and kitchen towels. Friends and family have benefitted from gifts of these throughout the years.
In 1995 Elsie sold her home in Honor and moved to Traverse City to live with her daughter, Lois. Initially she helped take care of Greg and Sarah. As they grew up, Grandma was always there for them. She enjoyed going for walks, visiting with the neighbors and watching the birds and wildlife from her patio window on Silver Lake. She continued to walk with assistance around the neighborhood even as her mobility declined.
The family extends a special thanks to Elsie's caregivers over the past several years. Katie Koeppen, Jane Pace, TJ Cady, Colleen Edgcombe, Arlene Bullard and Suzanne Leaureaux. Their loving care and support allowed her to stay in her apartment and maintain a great deal of the independence that was so important to her.
She was an amazingly strong and determined lady and passed those traits along to her children and grandchildren. Elsie will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved her.
Elsie is survived by her children, Serena Larson, Robert (Kathy) Starkey and Lois (Nathan Forrester) Roper Forrester; stepchildren, Mildred Hawkins and Lori (Ken) Rose; grandchildren, Jennifer (Jason) Johnson, Matt (Shelby) Starkey, Colleen Starkey (Ben Smith), Greg (Ashley) Roper, Sarah (Brad) Patterson, Alan (Kendall) Larson, James Larson, Richard Kuerth, Cathy (Gene) Yagle, Roger Brown Jr., Judy Bush, Melissa Brown, Dennis Cooper (Denise Erbs), Keith (Debbie) Cooper, Craig (Linda) Cooper, Dawn (Bill) Ross, Mark (Rosemary) Cooper, Gary (Jody) Cooper, Rachel (Jeff) Iteen, Peter (Maria) Cooper, Yvonne (Ed) Kalbfiesch, James Hawkins, Ray (Lavonya) Hawkins, Susan (Jon) Kirbach, Kathe (Bryan) Shaw and Todd (Kerry) Rose; brother, George (Hazel) Wilson; sister-in-law, Gladys Wilson; and numerous loving great-grandchildren, great-great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews and friends. She was also "Grandma" to Kristen (Abram) Roorda, Shelly Thompson, Erin Kulawiak, Julie Johnson and Kimberly Childs.
She was also preceded in death by children, Esse Kuerth and Karen Brown; stepchildren, Barbara Starkey and Virginia Cooper; grandchildren, Cherri Wilson and Donald Hawkins: siblings, Edwin, Dennis and Elmer Wilson, Sylvernis (Bernie) Wilson and Arvid (Gladys) Wilson.
Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 28, 2017 at the Jowett Family Funeral Homes in Benzonia. The family will receive friends one hour prior to the service.
Memorial contributions may be directed to the Salvation Army, Hospice of Michigan or a charity of one's choice.
Arrangements are by Jowett Family Funeral Homes & Cremation Service.
Published on May 26, 2017
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