Jean Louise Saalfeld

August 18, 1922February 10, 2014


Jean Louise Saalfeld passed away peacefully on February 10, 2014, at the age of 91. She was born on August 18, 1922 in Pierre, South Dakota to Walter and Zelia (Soule) Miser, the third of their four children.

Jean was an accomplished cellist, sailor, duplicate bridge player, dancer, investor, educator and a Daughter of the American Revolution. However, she was most proud to be a loving mother, grandmother and great grandmother. All who knew Jean will attest to her fierce independence, high degree of intelligence and unending advocacy for women’s rights.

Jean was preceded in death by her first husband (Robert Saalfeld); second husband (Joseph Putsavage); son (Gary); daughter (Janice); parents; and sister, (Zelia MacDonald). She is survived by her sister (Marion Dearing); brother (Walter Mizer); son (Gerald) and his wife (Barbara); daughter (Barbara Harris) and her husband (Tod); 5 grandchildren (Emily, Ezra, Ella, Claire and Alexander); 2 great- grandsons (Max and Jack); and several nieces and nephews. One of Jean’s final requests to her children and other relatives was “to lead their lives to the fullest and continue to strive for excellence.” Jean studied music at Oberlin College and earned Bachelor and Masters Degrees in Education from the University of Nebraska and the University of Michigan, respectively.

For many years, she taught business administration classes at Ann Arbor Pioneer High School, the University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University. Jean had a deep love for music and was a cellist in the Ann Arbor Symphony, Traverse City Symphony and Great Lakes Chamber orchestras. She also loved sailing and, after retiring from teaching, Jean skippered her beloved 37 ft. “Fairwind” from Elk Rapids, MI to the Bahamas twice. Cremation has taken place and a private family service has been held for Jean. A celebration of her life will be held at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions be made in Jean’s memory to: the Nature Conservancy (101 E. Grand River, Lansing, MI 48906;, and search "make a memorial gift"), or the Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra (438 E.Lake St., Petoskey, MI 49770;

The family is being served by the Gorsline Runciman Funeral Homes, East Lansing. Memories and condolences may be shared with the family at


  • Celebration of Life at later date

Jean Louise Saalfeld

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Maggie Poxson

February 21, 2014

Jean was a dedicated musician, and an inspiring woman. I have missed her presence in the Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra. I am so sorry to hear of her passing. Her smile will be missed by so many. Please accept my heart felt condolences. Maggie Poxson

maria vanconett

February 19, 2014

We all send Our Condolences. Jean will be sadly missed we allat the Elk Rapids Senior Center missed her smile and laughs when she moved we all missed her. We all were so glad to have her part of our Family.You are missed dearly .All Your Family from Elk Rapids senior Center

Marga Eickholt

February 17, 2014

Elaine Glowicki

February 17, 2014

I would be honored to share my memories of your mom,grandmother and great-grandmother by saying she was a smiling gifted woman who shared her talents as a musician and a love of sailing with people she knew in Elk Rapids, Mi. I was fortunate to also be a part of her life by attending some of the symphony programs where she played her cello and partnering with her in playing some challenging bridge games. She and her husband will also be remembered by the Elk Rapids Harbor Association as boating members. My condolences!

Marga Eickholt

February 17, 2014

Robert Pattengale

February 17, 2014

The Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra members will always remember Jean as a spirited, and dedicated cellist. She played with us from 2005 until 2012 and she retired only when it was too difficult to get back and forth to rehearsals. Her playing never slipped - and we miss her. Robert Pattengale, Co-Artistic Director, Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra.

Rick Lundgren

February 14, 2014

Karen and I were sorry to hear of the passing of your dear mother. I will always remember when several of us at work went over to hear your mother play her cello. You had a wonderful mother and she was loved by many.
Karen and I recently returned from Israel on a wheel chair distribution in Jericho. We live in St. Marys, GA.
and periodically get back to Michigan to visit our daughter who owns the Knitters Nook in Williamston.
We certainly hope to see you around Michigan sometime. Congrats on your retirement a little late.

Ralph & Pat Bednarz

February 13, 2014

Jerry, Barb and Family - Our heartfelt condolences on the passing of your mother. She was a remarkable lady and lived a full life.

Tim Holtfreter

February 13, 2014

Jerry, Barb, Barbara Z, Emily, James, all the great grand kids and family.

Very nice tribute to your mom. We are happy that she is now at peace, her suffering is over. She is definitely in a much better place. Know that you have many friends who are there to support you and the whole family during this time of transition. Your mom will always be fondly remembered.
God Bless all of you.

William Taft

February 12, 2014

Jerry&Barbara - We are sad for your loss but understand Jean's nursing home situation was not optimal for her. She was one unique lady in so many ways and she will be missed. I always enjoyed having a glass of wine and talking current affairs with her in Elk Rapids.