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Life Story / Obituary
With a heart that beat to bless others in ways both great and small, Etta Knapp was such a gift to others. She was a nurturer at heart, and she was kind, compassionate, and accepting of others in every way. Etta was deeply devoted to her family, and there was nothing that made her more proud than witnessing her family tree blossom to include the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren she adored. Deeply loved, Etta will be forever missed.
During the first half of the 1940s the eyes of our nation were focused overseas as countless young servicemen and women were serving during WWII. There was much to celebrate in 1945 with the end of the war, and during the years that followed we were shifting to being a nation at peace and witnessing the beginning of the baby boom. As the beauty of fall began to unfold in 1946, John and Alice (Vian) Gibson were pleased to announce the birth of their new baby, Etta Marie, on October 1st, in Jackson, Michigan. She was one of nine as she was joined in her family by her siblings, Phylis, William, Judy, Julia, Anita, John, Noma, and Michael. She attended local schools but had to drop out during high school due to family obligations. Later in life, Etta was so proud to go back and graduate from high school.
Not to be forgotten during Etta’s years as a young woman was her introduction to the young man of her dreams. His name was Richard Knapp, and although they went their separate ways for several years after meeting they got together again in the 1970s when he was installing a furnace in her house. They began dating, and with a desire to spend the rest of their lives together Etta and Richard were married in 1979. Together they welcomed seven children including Georgia, Jody, Dalton, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Harlow, and Teka Marie into their hearts and home.
There was nothing Etta treasured more than spending time with her loved ones. She loved going to the Upper Peninsula to feed the black bears at her cousin’s, and it was always quite an event. They would start by buying all the day old bread and goodies from local shops, filling the family van up, and getting on their way. Of course the kids were known to start bread fights with one another on the long drive. Later in life Etta was filled with unspeakable joy to welcome eight grandchildren, DJ, Haley, Logan, Josh, Troy, Ariston, and Ashton, and five great-grandchildren into the family. She also loved packing up the family to go fishing at the Centreville Covered Bridge as Etta fished as often as she could. It has even been said that she once caught a 300 pound fish named Richard, also known as her husband!
Throughout her life Etta was one to keep busy. A longtime resident of Portage, for years she helped out at the Portage Community Outreach Center. Known as “Mamma Marie” to many, she was always thinking of others. Etta loved to knit, crochet, and sew, and she made sure that everyone in the family had knitted hats and gloves every winter. She was available to help family and friends when needed, and she had a habit of kissing or pinching men if they got too close. Even compassionate toward animals, Etta was often seen with River, the neighborhood three-legged dog.
Described as open, honest, and even a little feisty, Etta Knapp was beautiful on the inside and out. She was never one to let life get the best of her, and her love and compassion for others was easy to see. There was no greater gift in her life than her family, and as the matriarch of her family she was the rock that held everyone together. Life will never be the same without Etta here, but she leaves behind a timeless legacy that her loved ones will proudly carry on in her footsteps.
Etta Marie Knapp, age 72, of Portage, MI passed away peacefully surrounded by family Wednesday, January 16th, 2019. Etta was born October 1, 1946 in Jackson, Michigan to the John and Alice (Vian) Gibson. She married Richard Harlow Knapp December 15, 1979 in Kalamazoo, MI.
Etta’s family includes her children: Georgia and Marcus Miller, Jody Elliott, Dalton Elliott, Ezekiel Knapp, Jeremiah Knapp, Harlow Knapp, and Teka Marie and Jeremy Anthony; 7 grandchildren; DJ Elliott, Haley Richardson, Logan Biggs, Josh Elliottlp[, Troy Elliott, Ariston Miller, and Ashton Miller; and 5 great grandchildren; siblings: William and Mary Jo Gibson, Julia Gutherue, Anita and Roy Sachjen, John Gibson, Michael Gibson; and brother in law Thomas Knapp; as well as many aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins. Etta is preceded in death by her parents, husband and siblings: Phylis and Carl Wilson, Judy and Alvin Dunn, and Noma Stewart.
The family will be having a visitation to Celebrate Etta’s Life on Monday from 4 to 7pm at the McCowen & Secord Life Story Family Funeral Homes, Portage Chapel, 5975 Lovers Lane, Portage, MI 49002, (269-344-5600). A funeral service will be held Tuesday, January 22 at 11am at the funeral home.
Please visit Etta’s at www.mccowensecord.com where you can read her life story, sign the guestbook, and share a memory. In lieu of flowers family askes donations be made to Portage Community Outreach Center or West MI Cancer Center.