Christine E. Kuhnke
Christine Ellen (Deering) Kuhnke passed away peacefully but unexpectedly in her sleep on Monday morning, Jan. 20, 2020 at her cottage in Curtis.
Christy was born on May 1, 1958 in Traverse City to Daniel and Ann (Hageman) Deering. She married the love of her life, Larry Kuhnke, on Oct. 6, 2006 in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Christy grew up in the family business, Tom's Food Markets, which her grandfather founded in 1946. She played, worked and practically lived in the stores as a child and young woman.
A 1976 graduate of Traverse City High School and captain of the TCHS cheerleading squad, she went on to pursue a business degree at Western Michigan University.
After college, she began her professional career as a mortgage lender, choosing to work with low-income and first-time home buyers. She also assisted many veterans of the armed forces. In 2005 she returned to Tom's, joining her father in an executive role running the family business. As the company's president, Christy continued Tom's strong and fundamental commitment to the Traverse City community through the development and support of local farms and businesses. Her father and grandfather would have been proud of her success with Tom's, which was, in large part, due to her desire for perfection, her concern for people, and, most importantly, the mutual respect and appreciation she enjoyed with the Tom's family of employees.
Christy was dedicated to many charitable causes, including the community libraries in Old Mission and Interlochen, and she was an early contributor to Impact 100 TC, which combines the power of dynamic women to support and improve their communities. She was also a proud and very generous supporter of the City Opera House in Traverse City and the Erickson Center for the Arts in Curtis.
Christy felt very blessed to call Michigan home and enjoyed its natural beauty and bounty. In her earlier years, she was an avid snow and water skier, once challenging herself to water ski every day of a summer, which she did. Christy was known for her love of birds and flowers, and most florists knew to put a bird in the arrangements for her.
In 2014 she and Larry built a cottage in Curtis in the Upper Peninsula, and crossing the Mackinac Bridge was always, in her words, "a very fortunate experience." Christy loved spending time there with visiting family and numerous friends, and on her last trip to Curtis she took with her an arrangement of flowers she had just received so she would not lose a single day's enjoyment of them.
Christy and Larry traveled every year in the spring and fall to various warm climate destinations. In 2019 they took a rare summer vacation - a cruise to Alaska - which was the most favored of all the places Christy had traveled.
Christy was devoted to her many nieces, nephews and grandchildren. She and Larry spent many happy days hosting family parties and spending time with family and friends at their home on Old Mission Peninsula.
Surviving Christy are her beloved husband, Larry; her mother, Ann (Robert) Witkop; sisters, Jane (Matthew) Zimmerman, Nancy (Ed) Sands, Carolyn (Tobin) Decker, Michelle (Ian) Sterling and Wendy Witkop; stepdaughters, Carol Kuhnke (Elizabeth Janovic) and Chris (Scott) DeJong; and many nieces, nephews and grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by her father, Daniel L. Deering.
Memorial services are scheduled as follows. Visitation will be on Thursday, Jan. 30, from 4 to 7 p.m., at the Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home in Traverse City. Visitation is also scheduled from 10 to 11 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 31, at St. Joseph Catholic Church on Old Mission Peninsula, with a Funeral Mass, officiated by Father Ben Rexroat, immediately following. Burial will be at Memorial Gardens as a private family service.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be directed to Impact 100 TC, 526 W. 14th St., #264, Traverse City, MI 49685;
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Published on January 26, 2020


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Showing 10 of 4 posts

Rick and Shari Neibert
Feb 12, 2020
Christy was such a joy. I got to know her approximately 7 years ago. Larry and my husband had know one another for years. But, when Christy and I met we hit it off. We texted a few times a year and would gather for dinner during our yearly trip to TC. What a pleasure it was. As Larry and Rick reminisced, Christy and I would laugh and cry of what had gone on during the year.
Our hearts are so saddened as we learned today of her passing. Christy will surely be missed in our lives.
Larry, prayers for you as God is our healer and consoled. Hugs my friend
Mark Nielsen
Feb 10, 2020
I remember her as Chris, always beautiful and full of life RIP
Mary Jackowski - Grand Traverse Area Right to Life
Jan 28, 2020
We are so very sad for your loss. Christy will be missed! She was a sweet soul who had a heart for the unborn. She was a regular supporter of the Grand Traverse Area Right to Life.

We are thankful to have known her and she will be dearly missed!!
Kathy Garthe
Jan 26, 2020
Christy was a wonderful supporter of the Northport community. I will always remember her enthusiasm in buying one of our dark sky-friendly streetlights and her ready support of our Olivet College intern program. She welcomed every question or thought with open heart. I am sad, sad, sad to think of her gone from us, but she leaves a wonderfully rich legacy of commitment and good works here.