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Life Story / Obituary
With a zest for life that was contagious to those around her, Olive “Ricki” St. Clair was a blessing in every way. She was small in stature, but she had no fear, and she wasn’t afraid to tell it like she saw it. Ricki lived to serve her husband and boys, and there was nothing like one of her mouthwatering meals. She exemplified what it means to persevere through times of challenge as she was a firm believer in growing through mistakes and setbacks. Ricki was overjoyed when her family grew to include grandchildren, her devotion to her family unmatched. Life will never be the same without her here, but her timeless wisdom and shining legacy will be carried on by those who follow in her footsteps.
The dark days of the 1930s were some of the most trying days we have ever faced as a nation as the entire decade was cloaked in the hardship of the Great Depression. The unemployment rate soared to over 25 percent, which left people willing to do whatever they could to make ends meet even if it meant packing up and moving their families clear across the country to find work. Despite the implementation of numerous federal programs, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was unable to deliver the amount of relief the American people were looking for. Despite the hardship around them, a young couple from Sault Ste. Marie was blessed with a joyous occasion in their own lives as they welcomed a healthy baby girl into their hearts and home on April 15, 1935. Baby Olive was one of five children born to her parents, John and Olive Cameron, and she was raised in the family home in Sault Ste. Marie and Indian River alongside her siblings, Warren, Donald, Donelda, and Gary. Her father owned and operated a glove company in Indian River while her mother was a busy homemaker.
Even from her earliest days, Ricki, as she was usually known, was so full of life. She always joked that she was ice skating and skiing before she learned to walk. Ricki was raised on a farm, and as a young girl she knew how to hold her own as she got plenty of practice picking on her brothers. The Cameron family was given a tough pill to swallow with the death of Ricki’s mother when Ricki was just 16.
Ricki was always a bustle of activity. As a teenager she loved things like roller skating, horseback riding, baking, and cooking. She was a student at local schools through the 11th grade including at Lincoln School, which is now known as Kalamazoo Central. When she got a bit older Ricki took up canning. It was quite an experience when she canned way too much jelly after moving from the farm.
Life was forever changed for Ricki when she met the young man who stole her heart. His name was Ronald St. Clair, and they met in 1964 through friends. They dated for two years and fell deeply in love. With a desire to establish a life together, Ricki and Ronald were married on August 27, 1966, in Ft. Knox, Kentucky. The newlyweds were unable to take a honeymoon as Ronald was serving in the Army at the time.
Together Ricki and Ronald were delighted to become parents to two wonderful sons: Ronald C. II and Steven L. She was a fun mom who did things with her sons like roller skating, riding horses, and bowling. Some of the St. Clair family’s favorite memories were made traveling to the Upper Peninsula together. Ricki loved cooking for her family, which was greatly appreciated, and among her specialties were pizza, baked beans, and fried chicken. She never minded taking care of the grocery shopping, and she loved having fresh produce from their garden - although she hated doing the weeding so that always became Ronald’s responsibility.
In addition to caring for her family, Ricki worked outside of the home. She was a machinist at the Shakespeare Company, and she later worked for Spearflex where she remained for 25 years.
As the years went by, Ricki continued to delight in her family. She viewed the days that her five grandchildren, Jordan, Sydney, McKenna, Hannah, and Parker, were born to be the greatest days of her life. There was nothing like those moments when Ricki held them each for the first time. The holidays were always something that she enjoyed, but she savored them even more as the family grew since it was a special time to gather together. Ricki always encouraged her children and grandchildren to learn from their failures, and was famous for saying, “You’re going to make mistakes, it’s when you stop trying or making decisions that you truly fail.” Of course as someone who also didn’t take any guff, Ricki was known to say, “Do you want me to pull over?!” and, “I’ll rip your lips off!” No matter what was going on in her own life, Ricki was forever the voice on the phone that could always make everything alright.
Olive “Ricki” St. Clair has been described as fierce and a spitfire who showed no fear, yet she was also as loving and as sweet as they come. She cherished being with her family more than anything else in this world, and her love for them was easy to see. Ricki was a woman who was content in all things and someone who lived life to the fullest each day. With a life that spanned times of great change in the world around her, she created a brilliantly colored mosaic of memories that will be a lasting treasure in the hearts of all who were blessed to feel her touch.
Olive “Ricki” St. Clair died on Monday, September 23, 2013, at Rose Arbor Hospice. She leaves behind her husband of 47 years, Ronald, and two sons: Ronald C. (Pamela) St. Clair II, and Steven L. (Mindy) St. Clair; five grandchildren: Jordan, Sydney, McKenna, Hannah, and Parker St. Clair; two brothers, Donald (Elaine) Cameron, Gary (Linda Waltrip) Cameron, a sister Donelda (Harry) Tyrpak, and a sister-in-law Judy Cameron; and several nieces and nephews: Carol (Larry) Green, Don McNichols, Brenda (Doug) Griffen, Debbie (John) VanCanCollie, Barry (Andrea) Priehs, Garry (Becky) Priehs, Bob Hess, Suzie Cameron, Scott Cameron, Drew Cameron, Teresa (Alec) Burson, April (Tony) Pica, Dawn Wilson, Denise Archer, Deanna (Victor) Desantiago, Michelle (Santana) Huerta. Ricki was preceded in death by her parents John & Olive Cameron, a brother, Warren Cameron, two nephews: Dave Cameron, Jeremy Wilson, and two nieces: Marie McNichols, Rene Hess. Visitation will be held on Sunday, September 29 from 10:00-11:00 a.m. at the Betzler & Thompson Life Story Funeral Home 60900 M-40; Paw Paw, MI, with services following at 11:00 a.m. Memorials may be made to Rose Arbor Hospice.