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Life Story / Obituary
Ella Swalier Middleton was a vibrant woman of her time. Born with a friendly personality, Ella made countless friends over the years. Gifted with many talents, she loved to share her time and resources with so many. Whether it was her throw rugs or hand towels, a crocheted blanket, or fresh cut flowers from her garden, she selflessly gave to her special friends and family over the years. Ella’s legacy will be the simple life she modeled where she was most content around her family. Each and every member were made to feel special in her presence and she will be deeply missed by them.
It is hard to find any area that was not directly impacted by the effects of the Great Depression in the 1930s. Banks were still closing but there was a promise of a new election year awaiting. By 1931, mobster Al Capone was locked away in Alcatraz, the Empire State Building had finished completion, and one of the greatest droughts in American history had hit the Central Plains region. During the midst of one of the toughest decades in American history, Alfred and Ella (Chalute) Swalier welcomed home the arrival of their newborn daughter, Ella, on April 11th. Named after her mother who died during her birth, Ella brought much joy to the family in difficult times.
Distraught and unable to properly care for her, her father, Al left her with the hospital for the first six months of her life until they could no longer reasonably care for her. Her Uncle Henry and Aunt Betty took her in until Al remarried and he and his wife, Mary Oeffolen chose to raise her. Moving to the Flint area, Ella attended various schools as her father had taken to buying and fixing up homes and reselling them. He also worked as a milkman and other odd jobs to help make ends meet. She and her three sisters, Josephine, Phyllis, and Diane were very close as young siblings. Known as quite a spitfire in her younger years, once when her father determined that purchasing a Christmas tree would be too much for them to afford, she convinced her little sister, Jean to cut down one of their neighbor’s trees! When the police arrived, they chuckled at her tenacity and bravery! She attended school at Austin Elementary in Holly before later moving to Mt. Morris where she went to Catholic school. Ella tested into a higher grade and spent both eighth and ninth grade at Fenton High School. In tenth grade, she went to Catholic Central in Grand Rapids while living with her aunt. When her aunt was diagnosed with cancer, Ella moved back to Fenton High School to finish out her junior year. Eventually, she graduated with the Class of 1948 from Mount Mercy Academy when she was merely sixteen years old. Eager to make her place in the world, she rented an apartment with a friend after graduation and worked at both Herpolsheimer’s Department Store and Michigan Bell.
Ella met the man of her dreams while attending a wedding reception! Tom Middleton was trying to catch her attention by showing off and the next day he called to apologize. After some time dating, the happy couple joined in marriage with a ceremony at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church on August 19, 1950. The newlyweds rented a tiny apartment on the west side where they welcomed home their first of seven children! With a growing family, they finally were able to buy their first home on Cleveland Street in Marne, Michigan. Creating a strong foundation for their children, they became members of St. Anthony's Catholic Church in Walker, Michigan. It was important to Ella to always make sure her kids were busy in different activities. She’d be sure to sign them up for summer camps, local 4-H clubs, the YMCA, as well as piano, guitar, and drum lessons. A proud mother, she was always encouraging and supportive of their vast accomplishments.
Never one to remain idle, Ella worked outside the home in addition to her many special interests. After retiring from General Motors in 1980, she and Tom moved to the Trout Lake area in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. In addition to tending to her flower and vegetable gardens, she also enjoyed visiting the local casinos. She always claimed to win, but never commented on how much she spent! Friendly and extremely outgoing, she made friends easily. Once when the 21st Century Health Spa was holding a contest, it was no surprise that Ella won the trip to the Canary Islands by convincing the largest number to join! She absolutely loved to travel! Whenever someone invited her to join a trip, she was there with her bags packed and ready to go! Known as a good cook, she never liked to clean! Instead, she preferred to knit, sew, or plan her next adventure.
As much as she relished in her years as a mother, nothing quite prepared her for her years as a grandmother. Blessed with eight special grandchildren; Daniel, David, Nathan, Rebecca, Robert, Matthew, Ryan, and Kristy her heart was full. By 2006, she became great-grandmother G.G. to Waylon and eventually Cheyenne, Wyatt, Jack, Luke, Fiona, Gauge, Layla, and Sydney. She never missed a birthday, holiday party, or opportunity to celebrate with her abundant family. As she aged, she enjoyed many years of attending art classes and lived happily at the Villa Maria Retirement home. She really looked forward to her weekly trips to the YMCA and visiting with the many good friends she made there. Ella was a loving wife, mother, sister, and grandmother over the years. Her charming personality, delightful smile, and encouraging presence will be forever remembered by all who knew and loved her.
Ella Louise Middleton aged 86, of Walker, passed away on July 9, 2017. She was preceded in death by her husband, Thomas R. Middleton; sons, David A. Middleton and Duane R. Middleton; and brothers-in-law, Jim Kohler, Jim Collins, Bill (Rita) Middleton and Jim (Agnes) Middleton. Ella is survived by her children, Debra (Paul) Harris, Denise (Tim) Sierveld, Doug Middleton, Darla Middleton, and Danette (Mark) Rohen; 8 grandchildren; 9 great-grandchildren; sisters, Jean Kohler, Phyllis Collins and Diane (Bob) Petrone; brother-in-law, Dick (Joyce) Middleton; and several nieces and nephews. The Funeral Mass will be held on Monday, July 24th at 10 AM at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church, 2510 Richmond St. NW. Friends may visit with her family beginning at 9 AM. Interment will be in St. Joseph of Wright Cemetery. Contributions in her memory may be made to Grace Hospice. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com to archive a memory, photo, or sign the guestbook.