Saturday, April 29, 2017
1:00 PM EDT
Wood Brook Cathedral
1739 Providence Street
Grand Rapids, MI 49525
Life Story / Obituary
Matilda “Tillie” Jane Duley was a beautiful person. A loving parent and grandparent, there wasn’t anything she wouldn’t do for her family. She lived her life selflessly giving to others. Always mindful of putting God first, she modeled a lifetime of accepting others with an unshakeable faith in her Lord and Savior. Described as a strict disciplinarian who was also loving and nurturing, she taught her children the values of saying, "I’m sorry" and "I love you" to one another. Tillie’s warm personality and immense love will be deeply missed by her special family and close friends.
1934 saw the turning point in the Great Depression in America with unemployment decreasing. Bouncing back from a severe drought that summer, Charles and Margaret (Reed) Hale were elated with joy to welcome Matilda and her twin sister, Merilda to their home on December 5, 1934. Her birth brought her family great joy and happiness.
Growing up on her family’s farm in the Crystal Valley area of Oceana County, Michigan, she was especially close with her siblings; her twin, Millie, her brother, John and her half sisters, Mary, Jackie, and Barb. As a young child, Tillie became ill with Scarlet fever and came close to death with tetanus as well. Each of the children pitched in to complete the daily chores, as the work of farm life was endless in its responsibilities. Working hard to make ends meet during hard economic times, the family never took a vacation. Instead, they enjoyed keeping one another’s company and pulling the usual pranks on one another. Tillie attended local schools where she enjoyed singing in the school choir as well as her church choir. A nature lover, she enjoyed many summer hours fishing, hiking, and exploring the outdoors. Her secondary education was at Hart Public Schools, yet she left before graduation. Tillie’s faith life took hold during these adolescent years when she began regularly attending the Methodist church.
With a heart as accepting and loving as Tillie’s, it was no surprise that she would marry four times in her life. Her first husband was Alvin Roy Roomsberg whom she met at the 44 Bar on Apple Avenue in Muskegon. They were married in 1953. Alvin was a good provider, working a factory job while also farming to make ends meet. Their hearts were overfilled with joy the day they welcomed beautiful Norma Jean home. The marriage, however, ended only four years later. One year later in 1959, she married her second husband, Phil Marino, a baker from Oven Fresh. Joining their lives together included welcoming his five children from his previous marriage, making Tillie a stepmother. Tillie loved all children and took in many foster children over their years together. By 1970, she had adopted Cindy and Terri, who were biological sisters that had stolen her heart. In addition to her passion for nurturing young people, Tillie returned to complete her high school equivalency and proudly graduated in 1975. Although Phil was quite a bit older than Tillie, they were very happy together until he passed away in 1980. A short time later, Tillie married Ford Lewis, yet their marriage only last a short time before they divorced and she returned back to her old house. In 1991, she married her last husband, Leonard Duley who had retired from Steelcase. Their marriage was harmonious and happy until his death in 2003.
Tillie’s life held many special interests. For much of her adult years, she worked cleaning offices and also worked security at the Grand Rapids Window Cleaning company. No matter what job she set out to do, she gave it her very best. She finished out her working career with Wil-Kast Inc a die cast company. She enjoyed the music of Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson. She loved to sew, knit and crochet, yet her family savored her baking. She was famous for her delicious homemade fudge and donuts. No other place than right at home satisfied her. Tillie leaves a rich legacy of memories behind where nearly each Sunday she and the family took road trips to Lake Michigan and also to Long Lake. Both places were special to her heart and places she found peace. When her family was grown and she was alone, she cherished her special furry companion, her dog, Jackson. Tillie will be forever remembered for her caring, loving, and nurturing ways. Sadly, she is gone, yet her warm memories will stay in the hearts of all who knew and loved her.
Matilda “Tillie” Jane Duley of Sheridan, Michigan passed away at home on April 19, 2017. Tillie was an active member of her community and faithful member of Wood Brook Cathedral for many years. Tillie was preceded in death by her parents; step-father, Leonard Flory; brother, John; sisters, Mary, Jackie, and Barb; step-sons, Joe and Frankie; daughter-in-law, Abbie; three grandchildren; along with her four husbands, Alvin Roomsburg, Phillip Marino, Ford Lewis, and Leonard Duley. Tillie is survived by her twin sister, Merilda (Millie) Soliwoda of Grand Rapids; daughters, Norma Jean (John) Phenix of Sheridan, Terri (Jon) Alexander of Kenton, OH, Cindy Westberg of Greenville; special daughters, Vergie Ward, Jane Vitunskas, Carol Trott; several stepchildren and several foster children. Also surviving are grandchildren, John, Chad (Caryl), Risa, Melissa, Alan, Samantha, Eric, Jessica, and Julie; several step-grandchildren; great-grandchildren, Rian, Ashely, Dylan, Austin, Monica, Megan, Joey, Jacob, Jenna, Blade and Mikayla; and great-great-grandchildren, Brayden, Kiley and Austin. A celebration of life will be held Saturday, April 29th at 1 PM at Wood Brook Cathedral, 1739 Providence St. NE. Please visit Tillie's personal webpage to leave a memory or condolence at www.lifestorynet.com.