Sleeman, Marian 3/9/1927 - 3/3/2017 Kalamazoo Marian Sleeman, of Kalamazoo, formerly of Cooper, died peacefully Friday, March 3, 2017, at Allegan Country Estates; surely guided by a host of angels into the arms of our Lord and her beloved husband, Phil. Born in Kalamazoo on March 9, 1927 to Charles and Garnet (Flannigan) Hearnshaw, she was the youngest of her siblings Buster (Chuck), Ruth and Verna. In 1921, her parents moved from Chicago with the three oldest children to a Paw Paw, Michigan farm, hoping for a less hectic life in the country. With no farming experience there was great hardship, so in 1923 they disappointedly left the farm and moved to Kalamazoo where Marian was born. Tragically, her dad died in a car accident with a train when she was 15 months old. Left with four children to support and too proud to take government assistance, her mom went to work, often at two jobs, from school janitor to cook at a Boy Scout camp. As a young girl, Marian frequently went with her mom to the camp, supposedly to help, but most of her memories were of swimming and playing. She also spent a lot of time with her adored married sister Ruth, eight years her senior, who was like a second mother to her. Time at Ruth and Ron Pell's cottage on Pine Lake was idyllic for young Marian; a place so different from living in downtown Kalamazoo. (Pine Lake was so special that in 1973, she and Phil bought their own cottage on the lake for their family to enjoy.) But living in the city for a young girl was fun, too; going to movies (Shirley Temple a favorite), walking to school (which she said was uphill both ways), and playing with her lifelong friends (most special was Barb Smith Shugars). Marian proudly graduated from Kalamazoo Central and loved to teach her young grandchildren its fight song, "K Aka, L Aka, M, A, Mazoo, Celery City Michigan!" After graduation she worked as a secretary at Wilson Insurance Company in Kalamazoo. It was the era of Big Bands; she and her friends loved to go to the clubs and dance; even getting a fake ID before she was "of age." She met her future husband, Phil Sleeman, in the streets during the VJ Day celebration and didn't see him until a year later at a dance at Club Hollywood in Kalamazoo. Their courtship began with lots of dancing and driving around in Phil's convertible that Marian loved, running it into a tree when he was teaching her to drive. Wedding bells rang on October 22, 1948 and the city girl became a country girl. Their life together began in a "wreck of an old farm house" on 50 acres in Cooper township near Phil's parents' farm. They worked feverishly to make it a comfortable family home as it needed extensive updating, not to mention the pesky bats and rats that had to be dealt with. Marian always loved a project and had the creativity and vision to see how something could be made out of nothing with little money. She believed Phil could learn to do anything, which he did with her constant encouragement. He adored her as she did him, and he enjoyed completing the projects as much as she did dreaming them up. He often said, "the Hearnshaws love the sound of a hammer and a saw." Marian believed in keeping an orderly house, but cooking was never a favorite activity. You'd never know it, though, as she baked innumerable pies, cakes and dishes for church activites, school events, funeral luncheons and family gatherings. She especially disliked having to prepare lunches for the hired men on the farm, but she dutifully did so to help. She dearly loved her mother-in-law, Una, who embraced the city girl and helped her adjust to country living. Being alone was a lifelong fear (one she passed on to at least one granddaughter), so when Phil's work took him away from home overnight, Una would spend the night. Phil and Marian desired a family and were thrilled when their first son, Steve, was born exactly 9 months after their wedding, with Mike to follow 2 years later. Sydney came next in 1953, the daughter they hoped for, but she was born with severe spinal bifida. Though the doctors told Marian and Phil she would have to be institutionalized , Marian insisted on bringing her baby girl home and learned how to care for her. She thrived with the love and attention her parents provided, but sadly she died one year later. Grief turned to joy again when Cheri was born in 1955, the same year that Phil opened Sleeman's Service in Cooper, where Marian was the dedicated bookkeeper until they retired in 1981. Marian was struck with bulbar polio in 1956, which she fearfully discovered was a serious case when she read about herself in the Kalamazoo Gazette while in the hospital. She was forced into isolation and away from her three young children, only able to see them outside below her hospital window. Thankfully, she recovered but was left with one side of her throat paralyzed, causing her to choke easily the rest of her life, as well as taking away her ability to sing in the church choir (at least that's the reason she told her children why she couldn't sing). Scott was born in 1960, their special "surprise" baby. She was a very active lifelong member of Cooper Congregational Church, which was the Sleeman family church since the late 1800's. They made sure their children attended and she was proud to be the first female Moderator. Marian was also a 4-H, Boy Scout and Girl Scout leader. Phil and Marian did practically everything in life together, and family was their priority. They rarely missed any of their kids or grandkids events, from dance recitals to athletic games, from pee-wee beginnings to collegiate achievements. Phil boasted all the kids got their athletic abilities from Marian; she started him golfing and in the early days of their marriage they played hours of ping pong for entertainment until Phil quit to save their marriage because he could never beat her. They enjoyed golf for over 40 years, playing in numerous leagues and in many states with many wonderful friends. Marian was devoted to her family and demonstrated what motherhood should be - selflessly giving of her love, time and talents. She added magic to Christmas and birthdays. She cherished babysitting her grandchildren and spoiling them. Playing games and ping pong, library, store, and just time snuggling and reading books was priceless to her and to whomever she was with. Knitting was a passion, from her beloved personalized Christmas stockings to intricate blankets to hospital preemie baby caps, she constantly had a knitting project in the works; she enjoyed giving them away and they were cherished gifts to those who received them. She loved to travel, from camping to cruises, with family and friends. Half the fun for her was in the planning and organizing. Punta Gorda was their winter retirement home for 30 years, where they had many special friendships and fun times. She loved family and friends coming to visit so they could go to the beach and find sharks teeth, golf, visit Disneyworld and the Shell Factory. Phil and Marian left the farm and moved into The Fountains in 2008 where Marian tenderly cared for Phil until his final days of Alzheimer's in 2011. She made many new friends and participated in many of the activities there . Marian will be remembered for her bright smile, easy laugh and sincere caring and helping nature - which made her a special friend to anyone she knew. She could kiss a skinned knee and make it all better. Her hugs and compassionate wisdom helped mend a broken heart or a life disappointment. She was her kids and grandkids biggest life cheerleader. She leaves behind a legacy of giving to others, being the bigger person demonstrates a loving character, humor makes the world more fun, faith provides strength in the toughest times, a strong work ethic brings success and family is the center of joy and happiness. In a just found 1999 letter addressed to "Dear Kids," scribbled just before they left for the airport (she hated flying), she wrote "All of you go on to great things, but remember, it's the little things in life that end up being the BEST!" Marian is survived by her children Steve (Cyndee) of Plainwell; Mike of Cooper; Cheri (Steve) Schulz of Allegan and Scott (Linda) of Otsego; her treasured grandchildren Matt (Chris) Sleeman in North Carolina; Ben (Nicole) Sleeman of Wayland; Alex (Kaylee) Sleeman of Grand Rapids; Molly (Sam) Goldsmelding of Comstock; Shelby and Hannah Schulz in Colorado. Precious great grandchildren are Adelyn and Lucas Sleeman. Also surviving are numerous beloved nieces and nephews and dear friend Judie Dancing, who so touchingly helped mom onto her final journey. Sincere appreciation to all the special people who compassionately cared for Marian in her final months - the aides at the Gardens, the Journeys' and Wings of Hope Hopice's nurses, and Sheila and Nancy at Allegan Country Estates. She was preceded in death by brother Charles, and sisters Ruth Pell and Verna Munther Quinn. A celebration of her blessed life will take place at Cooper Congregational Church, Saturday, April 1, 2017. Meet with the family from 9-11, a memorial service to immediately follow. In lieu of flowers the family asks that memorial contributions be made to Wings of Hope Hospice, 530 Lynn Street, Allegan, 49010.