Kathleen Sillery

Oct 31st 1929 - Feb 23rd 2013

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Warm-hearted and loving, Kathy Sillery had the kind of personality that lit up the room. She could always bring a smile to people’s faces, whether it was with a practical joke, a fun story, or an unexpected question. For example, during Bible study – “If we go to Heaven and all get new bodies, how am I going to recognize you?” She could make other people at ease in any situation. She would do or say something that would make people laugh and soon everyone was talking. Kathy’s devotion to her family, strong faith in the Lord, and generous spirit touched many hearts over the years.

Kathleen Marie was born in 1929. A year that saw inventors presenting their first ideas for a color television, the inauguration of President Herbert Hoover, and the introduction of the Popeye comic strip. It was the beginning of the Great Depression. Her parents, Glenn and Dorris (Fisher) Rogers, welcomed their second daughter into the world on October 31st in Battle Creek, Michigan. Her father worked for Michigan Bell Telephone as a lineman. They soon left Battle Creek and moved to Midland, Michigan. There her father was employed by the Midland County Road Commission as a road repairman. The family, which now included her older sister, Marieta, and her younger sister, Marjory, relocated after that to Frankfort, Michigan in 1944 where her father was hired as a bus driver for the Yellow Bus Line. In 1947, Kathy graduated from Frankfort High School and went on to earn her teaching certificate. She was great at working with kids, especially using arts and crafts projects, and taught at an elementary school for a short time. She was also employed at the Helena’s Gift Shop where she met a handsome young sailor named Charles B Sillery, aka Boats, who had stopped in to purchase something. Charles was a Boatswain Mate in the Coast Guard stationed in Frankfort. Kathy and Boats hit it off right away, and soon realized that they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together. On December 21, 1952, they were married in a small Catholic chapel.

Their first daughter, Marian, was born in 1953 there in Frankfort. But since Boats was in the Coast Guard, he was transferred to many locations over the years. First they moved to Buffalo, New York, then to Hawaii. It was in Hawaii that their second daughter, Charlene, was born in 1957. Next they moved to Marblehead, Ohio, and eventually to Kalamazoo, Michigan. They settled down in Meadowview Village Mobile Home Park with their two young daughters and resided there for over 40 years.

After retiring from the Coast Guard, Boats worked as a Merchant Marine on big open ocean freight ship sailing to Australia which kept him away from home for more than a year and a half. He next went to work in the steel industry sailing iron ore boats on the Great Lakes for the Wilson Marine Transit Company and then the Inland Steel Company. This job kept him away from home for 9 months at a time. Much of the responsibility for raising the girls fell to Kathy. Strong and self-reliant, Kathy ran the household while being the primary caregiver to their two young children. She always stressed that family came first. She never was able to concur the art of cooking and was lovingly referred to as Marcy (one of the Peanuts characters.) Kathy was very artistic and taught this skill to both of her girls. An animal lover, Kathy had a big heart for strays and cared for many cats throughout the years.

In addition to being a full-time mom, Kathy was also active in the community, and worked the voting polls during elections for many years. In her free time, Kathy loved working in the garden or simply enjoying the outdoors at home with family and friends. Kathy was a very skilled seamstress and made many of the girls clothes. She enjoyed doing puzzles, work searches, crossword puzzles, Sudoku, and many more games. She remained sharp even as the years went by keeping her family on their toes. At home, Kathy loved reading, working of craft projects, or watching old movies.

Extremely creative, generous, and self-reliant, Kathy was a devoted wife, a loving mother and grandmother, and a loyal friend. She will be deeply missed and loving remembered by her many friends and family.

Kathleen Marie Sillery died on February 23, 2013, at the age of 83. Kathy’s family includes her daughters, Marian K. (Leonard) Peck and Charlene M. (Jeffrey) Orwin; her grandchildren, Emily (Nathan) Beronja, Anthony Peck, Colleen Orwin and Michael Orwin; and her sisters, Merieta Gilbert and Marjory Crandal. Kathy was preceded in death by her husband of 58 years, Charles Sillery.

Learn more about Kathy, view her Life Story film, and share in some refreshments with her family and friends on Wednesday from 1 to 2 p.m. at the Life Story Funeral Home, Betzler – Kalamazoo, 6080 Stadium Dr., 375-2900, where services will be held at 2 p.m. Burial will be at Mt. EverRest Cemetery. Memorial donations may be directed to charity of one’s choice. Please visit Kathy’s personal memory page at www.lifestorynet.com, where you can learn more about her life, share a favorite memory or photo, and sign the online guestbook.

Kathleen Sillery