Dominic Conklin

September 23, 1921 - April 17, 2015
Traverse City, MI



Monday, April 20, 2015
4:00 PM to 7:00 PM EDT
Traverse City Life Story Funeral Home
Traverse City Location
752 Munson Ave.
Traverse City, MI 49686
(231) 941-9034

A scripture service will start at 6:30pm.

Driving Directions

Tuesday, April 21, 2015
10:00 AM EDT
St. Francis Catholic Church
1025 South Union Street
Traverse, MI 49684
(231) 947-4620

Mass to start at 11am.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015
11:00 AM EDT
St. Francis Catholic Church


At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.

Charity of choice


Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.

Flower Station
341 W. Front St.
Traverse City, MI 49684
(231) 946-1742
Driving Directions
Web Site

Cherryland Floral
1208 S. Garfield
Traverse City, MI 49686
(231) 941-5761
Driving Directions
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


Dominic Edward Conklin, was born on September 23, 1921, on a farm in Deerfield Center, near Howell, Michigan to Mark and Anna (Runyan) Conklin. He was the youngest of four children: Charles, Irene (Jelsch), Gregory (who died shortly after birth) and Dominic.

Dominic was of Irish and English descent and was proud of his heritage. St. Patrick’s Day was always a special celebration in the Conklin household.

Mark and Ann Conklin were farmers who grew corn, wheat and potatoes to support their family and to feed their cattle, pigs, chickens and work horses. Dom walked two miles to school each day and then helped with chores on the farm when he’d get home. He was always grateful for his sister, Irene, because she helped take care of him and would make sure he got to school safely.

Dominic grew up during the Great Depression where it took two bushels of corn to buy a pair of shoes. He spent many years walking to school with worn out shoes stuffed with cardboard because his family couldn’t afford to buy him new ones.

While in high school, the big entertainment was to go to local dances in neighboring communities. That was where Dom first met the love of his life, Peggy (Margaret) Burns from nearby Pinckney High School.

He graduated from Hartland High School in 1939 and became an entrepreneur with vision at an early age. After experiencing the Depression, he didn’t want to stay on the farm but was determined to go to college. Without telling his parents, he went to the local bank and asked for a loan to buy a cow and a calf so he could raise them and make a profit to use for college. The bank officer was shocked, but told Dom if his father would sign the loan, he would give him the money. Mark agreed, and Dom raised that calf and sold it for enough money to pay back the loan and to pay for his first year of college.

Dom attended Cleary College and Lawrence Tech Institute for two years until he entered the Army Air Corps. When he was home on leave, he rekindled his interested in Margaret by asking her out for dinner and dancing in 1943. During dinner, Margaret stated to Dom, “Isn’t it amazing that after all this time, you don’t have a girlfriend and I don’t have a boyfriend.” Dominic was encouraged and continued to date Margaret during the next two weeks, and the rest, as they say, is history!

On January 13, 1945, Dominic Conklin and Margaret Burns were married at Langley Field, Virginia. Helen Young was the maid of honor and Charles Conklin was the best man in a small ceremony attended by their parents.

One month later, 1st Lt. Dominic was issued orders to be stationed with the 20th Reconnaissance Squadron of B-24s as a Navigator in the Philippines. He continued his campaign in the Pacific until March of 1946.

While serving in World War II, their first child (Katherine Marie) was born on November 30, 1945. Dom was thrilled to finally come home and hold his baby girl for the first time. After the war, Dom and Peggy moved to Pontiac where he worked as an hourly employee for Fisher Body.

They then moved to White Lake where the next children were born: Donald Edward, Thomas Raymond and William Michael were born in 1948, 1949 and 1950. After his family grew so quickly, Dom realized he needed a much larger house. In 1951 Peggy’s brothers helped him build their new home in Farmington. Constance Jeanne was born in 1953 at the Farmington home.

Dom and Peggy enjoyed those years in Grand Rapids watching their children grow up and attending their sporting events, plays and dances. Many of Peggy’s siblings lived in and near Grand Rapids so weekends were spent with extended family playing cards, having barbecues and going to the lake.

The family recalls many special memories of camping – from the U.P. to the Dakotas, to Quebec and many places in between – swimming and fishing every summer for two weeks in August. Packing the car, pitching the tent, unloading the car, gathering firewood, playing catch or pepper were typical activities.

One of the most memorable trips was to Itaska State Park in Minnesota. The Conklin family and Grandpa Burns piled into the family station wagon with all of the camping gear. Picture eight people, 8 sleeping bags, tent, and food in one vehicle. Since Connie was only five, she had a special place in the way back near the ceiling of the car on top of the sleeping bags to call “home” for the two-day trip. About 20 miles from the State Park, the family stopped at a gas station. Everyone piled out to stretch their legs and to use the restrooms. When arriving at the park, Dad was asked, “Are you from Grand Rapids? Are you missing a daughter?” Dom thought they meant Grand Rapids, Minnesota, not Michigan, and believed his family was all intact, so he replied “no”.

After setting up the tent, Peggy asked, “Where’s Connie? I haven’t seen her.” Then Dom remembered what the park attendant had asked him, and said, “Oh no, I think we must have left her at that last stop.” Dad then jumped in the car and drove 20 miles back to the gas station, and there was Connie waiting with one of the employees eating a candy bar, safe and sound.

On Sundays while living in Grand Rapids the family would spend the day at Holland State Park making brunch on the beach along the channel. Many times Jack and Helen Young (Peggy’s sister) and their kids would join the Conklin clan. The families would swim, play baseball, throw footballs, and go on walks in the sand dunes.

Dominic continued to be promoted within Fisher Body over the years as he worked with diligence and enthusiasm. He stressed the importance of team work in every decision he made and truly valued every employee. He was transferred in 1955 to Grand Rapids as the head of the Engineering Department.

Dom was then transferred by Fisher Body to Tecumseh where he was promoted to Plant Manager. After two years, Dom was transferred as Plant Manager back to Grand Rapids. He knew he was getting ready to retire before long, so he and Peggy built their dream house on Northboro Street. However, Fisher Body had different plans and asked them to move to El Paso, Texas, to manage the plant in Juarez, Mexico. Peggy was always such a good sport, and readily agreed to every move. After three years, Dom was able to move to Plymouth, Michigan, where he managed the plant in Livonia and then retired in 1984 after 43 years with Fisher Body.

While managing the Grand Rapids plant, an executive from an auto plant in England toured his and other plants across the U.S. The executive sent Dom a letter stating that his plant was “extremely well organized” and “highly rated”. He stated that he believed Dom’s success was “due in large measure to the happy atmosphere existing in your plant, everyone seemed to be so friendly….” That was a trademark of Dom’s career – he did everything with excellence and treated everyone with respect, honor and dignity.

One of Dom's secrets to success was his faith in God. He would tell his children that many times he would have a very tough decision to make at work and not know what to do. He would pray and ask God for His wisdom. The Lord would wake him up in the night with the answer. Dad would write it down and then put it into practice.

Within a month of retiring, Dom and Peggy moved to a house on Long Lake in Traverse City to be closer to some of their children and grandchildren. We have many fabulous memories of swimming, tubing, boating, fishing, family celebrations and watching gorgeous sunsets on Long Lake. Many Sundays after a great meal Dom would take the grandchildren on pontoon boat rides around the lake. Of course, a day at the lake wasn’t complete until we had played numerous games of pedro (an old farmers’ card game) sitting on the porch at the lake.

In 1985 Dom and Peggy purchased a double-wide at Terra Siesta retirement community in Ellenton, Florida. They lived there for several months each winter until 2009. Dom and Peggy shared many great memories with Tom, Nadja, Don, Barbara and many friends during their months in Florida each year.

Dom and Peggy traveled together every year after their children were grown, including: Puerto Rico to see Don, Ireland, Italy, France, Israel, Yugoslavia, Mexico, Alaska, Hawaii and a cruise to the Yucatan Peninsula with most of their children and grandchildren for their 50th wedding anniversary.

Dominic E. Conklin, age 93, of Traverse City, passed away peacefully on April 17, 2015, at Orchard Creek Assisted Living in Traverse City. Dominic was born on September 23, 1921, in Deerfield Center, Michigan, to Mark and Anna (Runyan) Conklin.

Dominic graduated from Hartland High School in 1939 and married Margaret (“Peggy”) Burns on January 13, 1945, at Langley Field, Virginia. Dominic attended Cleary College and Lawrence Tech Institute for two years before he entered the Army Air Corps where he served as Navigator of the 20th Reconnaissance Squadron of B-24s in the Pacific during World War II.

Prior to leaving for the war, Dominic began his career in 1941 at Fisher Body working as a clerk at the Pontiac plant. He then worked at plants in Farmington, Grand Rapids, Tecumseh, El Paso, and Livonia. While in Tecumseh, he was promoted to Plant Manager and continued as such at Grand Rapids, El Paso and Livonia until his retirement in 1984.

Dominic was preceded in death by his loving wife of 69 years, Margaret, in 2014. He is survived by his children, Kay (James) Conklin Beattie, Don (Meg Ashcroft) Conklin, Tom (Cheryl) Conklin, Bill (Diane) Conklin and Connie (Steve) Vorenkamp; 15 grandchildren, Kathleen, Jim, Don, Jeff and Craig Conklin; Corinne, Kevin, Kelly and Chris Vorenkamp; Nadja Conklin; Ryan, Caleb, Casey, Briana and William Conklin; and 15 great-grandchildren.

Dominic was the youngest of four children. He was preceded in death by his parents and siblings, Gregory Conklin, Charles Conklin and Irene Jelsch.

Dominic loved his family and making special memories and celebrating life with each of them. His faith and commitment to God brought him comfort and strength throughout his life. He will be remembered for playing cards (pedro), dancing with his sweetheart, and singing to his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. His warm smile, enthusiasm for life and words of wisdom and encouragement will be greatly missed.

The family deeply appreciates the kind and loving care that Dominic received at Orchard Creek.

Visitation will be held from 4 to 7 p.m., Monday, April 20, 2015, at the Life Story Funeral Home, Traverse City. A Scripture service will be held at 6:30 p.m. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, April 21, at St. Francis Catholic Church. The family will greet friends at church one hour prior. Entombment will be with his wife, Margaret at Oakwood Catholic Cemetery Mausoleum, Traverse City.

Memorial Contributions may be made to a charity of choice.

Please visit Dominic’s webpage at www.lifestorytc.com to sign the guestbook and to share a message or memory with his family.