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Melanoma Research Foundation
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Life Story / Obituary
All who knew Olive “Fern” Homoki would agree that she was truly beautiful on the inside and out. She was the sort of person who could always find the bright side in any situation, and her zest for life was contagious. A loving wife and devoted mother, Fern was the matriarch of her family who loved nothing more than witnessing her family tree blossom to include numerous branches of loved ones who made her so very proud. With a spirit of generosity that was unmatched, she was willing to drop whatever she had going on to help someone in need. Life will never be the same without Fern here, but she leaves behind a timeless legacy that her loved ones will proudly carry on in her footsteps.
It was great to be an American during the 1920s. Jazz music and ballroom dancing were among the latest trends while the lights of Broadway had never shined brighter. Cars were more affordable for the average American thanks to the assembly line, and prosperity was largely felt nationwide. Amidst this exciting time was a time of great anticipation in the lives of Milton and Lavinia Wise as they were eagerly awaiting the birth of their new baby as 1923 was drawing to a close in Red Key, Indiana. The big day finally arrived on December 7th when the baby girl they named Olive Fern drew her first breath. She was the youngest of six in the Wise clan as she was joined in her family by her older siblings, Earl, Doris, Irma, Archie, and Ruth. Almost always known as Fern, her father was a sharecropper in Indiana, and during the Great Depression of the 1930s their family moved around in Indiana depending on where the work was. Her mother was a homemaker. Their family later moved to Athens, Michigan, and finally to Mendon, Michigan, where her father owned gas stations.
In many ways Fern experienced an upbringing that was typical for the youth of her generation. Because she was seven years younger than even her next closest sibling, she often played with her cousins as they were closer to her age. Fern enjoyed reading while growing up, and as a teen she cleaned people’s homes. She attended Athens schools, and she left school after the ninth grade to work in a factory in Mendon where she was involved in making flashlights for WWII troops. Through this work, Fern brought home $1.75 a week, which was like a small fortune to Fern! She quickly bought herself a new dress and a pair of heels, which made her so very proud. Fern soon had a night out with her girlfriends with her earnings as well. Fern often spent Saturday nights at the school as they offered free movies during WWII. It was a birthday to remember when Fern turned 18 as that was the day that would forever change our nation with the vicious attack on Pearl Harbor.
New and exciting changes were in store for Fern when she met the man of her dreams. His name was Dan Homoki, and they met shortly after the war when she was 23 and he was 26. They began dating and soon found themselves deeply in love. With a desire to spend the rest of their lives together, Fern and Dan were married on February 19, 1947, with Fern wearing a brown wedding dress because of the war since nothing was available in white. The newlyweds started their lives together on a farm in Vicksburg, and together they welcomed three children including Danny, Robert, and Mary into their hearts and home. While her husband owned and operated J&D Roller Rink in Portage, Fern was able to primarily focus her attention at home. At times they had family members working in the snack bar there including her mother who ran the register. In all the years they owned it before selling in 1973, Fern never learned to skate! They also built “Twist-a-Cone,” an ice cream shop on the same property.
Throughout her life Fern savored every moment she spent with her family. She was thrilled to become a grandmother, and she loved having her grandchildren over whenever she could. Fern was the go-to babysitter when her children went bowling, played boardgames, or watched movies. Fern loved traveling with her kids and their families. Florida was her favorite place, especially Orlando. At times she went to stay with her brother-in-law and his family during the winter. Fern was an amazing cook who was famous for her stuffed cabbage and crepes as well as pretty much anything that Chris wanted. Thanksgiving was Fern’s favorite holiday, and she went all out. The house was spotlessly clean, and she prepared all the food that was eaten on the fine china. She was known as Grandma Fern by nearly everyone as she was so loving, genuine, and nurturing to everyone she met. She was especially loved by all the kids at her daughter Mary’s daycare as she regularly helped there. Fern also had a special place in her heart for animals, and she was known for spoiling them with food. It could be said that she spoiled them a bit too much in this way as Chris’s dog got fat from all the muffins she fed him. Fern loved the tuxedo cat her son Bob brought home. He was named George, but as it turns out he was really a female. Fern had presently been treasuring the companionship of her cat, Shelly.
As her family and friends can attest, Fern did enjoy her routines. Wednesday was grocery night and dinner out, and Saturdays were spent shopping with Mary and Paul. She was very crafty and enjoyed keeping busy. A talented seamstress, Fern made her great-grandchildren pillows for Christmas this past year. She also enjoyed crossword puzzles, reading, her favorite author being Danielle Steele.
Kindhearted, gracious, and compassionate, Olive Fern Homoki was a blessing to everyone she met. She was more reserved and very patient, although once she got mad everyone knew to watch out! Fern was a soft talker, which sometimes frustrated her when she wasn’t heard, but she was filled with words of timeless wisdom. She was deeply devoted to her loved ones, and it was easy to see that her family was her greatest source of pride and joy. Always there for whomever needed her, Fern was truly selfless. Deeply loved, she will never be forgotten.
Olive Fern Homoki, of Kalamazoo, passed away on January 15, 2017. Fern’s family includes her children: Danny (Barbara) Homoki, and Mary (Paul) McCulfor; 4 grandchildren; 3 step-grandchildren; 5 great-grandchildren; 4 step-great-grandchildren; as well as several nieces and nephews. Fern was preceded in death by her husband of 37 years, Dan; son Robert (Yvonne); parents; granddaughter Michelle; brothers and sisters: Earl, Doris, Irma, Archie, and Ruth. Visit with her family and friends and view her life story film on Thursday, January 19, 2017, from 5:00 – 8:00 at the Life Story Funeral Home, 5975 Lovers Lane, Portage (344-5600). A funeral service will be held on Friday, January 20th at 11:00 at the same location. Please visit Fern’s memory page at www.lifestorynet.com where you can archive a memory or photo and sign her memory book online. Memorial donations can be made to the Melanoma Research Society.