OBITUARY

Shirley Ann Kovarik

March 9, 1935November 1, 2013

Shirley A. Kovarik (Koehler)

Age 78 of Presque Isle, MI and Venice, FL passed away among her family in Livonia, MI on November 1, 2013 after a long illness.

Born in 1935 to Max and Dorothy Koehler as the second of six children, she spent her childhood in the Livonia and Farmington area. A graduate of Livonia Bentley High School and Henry Ford School of Nursing, she married Theodore Kovarik, a Livonia fireman and Navy veteran in 1957.

While raising her family in Livonia, Shirley worked for the state of Michigan Department of Community Health at the Hawthorn Center. She retired in 1987 as a Nursing Supervisor.

Throughout her life, Shirley was active in many organizations including the local 4-H club, the Foresters, multiple golf and bowling leagues and the Venice, FL Moose club where she achieved the status of Senior Regent. She was a devoted Detroit sports fan and avid golfer. Other interests include gardening, painting and reading. Never one to sit on the sidelines, Shirley could most often be found in an official role in any organization.

She was a generous, kind and compassionate woman who will be missed by many. “Nothing is so strong as gentleness and nothing is so gentle as real strength.”

She is survived by her children; Terrence (Dellrose) of Green Bay; Susan (Paul); Thomas; and Richard (Kristin). Grandchildren: Thomas, Kristina, Kathleen, Samantha, Patrick and Matthew as well as the 7th grandchild expected in April. Sisters: Donna Burton of Alpena and Carol Stevenson of Venice, FL, as well as step-granddaughter Angela and her three children Isis, Indira and Averey. Dear friend, William Roy of Venice, FL also survives her.

She was preceded in death by her husband Theodore, her brothers Gerald and Kenneth and sister, Lois.

The family would like to thank all those who knew and loved Shirley and made every day of her life meaningful and full of joy.

Memorial donations can be made to Angela Hospice (Livonia, MI) or Mooseheart Child City and School (Mooseheart, IL).

Visitation will be held at Harry J. Will Funeral Home of Livonia on Sun. Nov. 3 from 3-8pm with a rosary/scripture service at 7pm and again on Mon. Nov. 4 from 3-8 with a funeral service at 6:30pm. Additional visitation will be held at Bannan Funeral Home of Alpena, MI on Tues. Nov. 5 from 4-8pm. The funeral Mass will be held at St. Annes Catholic Church in Alpena, MI on Wed. Nov. 6 at 10am. Final Interment will be at Presque Isle Township Cemetery following the funeral mass.

Services

  • Visitation Sunday, November 3, 2013
  • Rosary/ Scripture Service Sunday, November 3, 2013
  • Visitation Monday, November 4, 2013
  • Funeral Service Monday, November 4, 2013
  • Visitation Tuesday, November 5, 2013
  • Funeral Mass Wednesday, November 6, 2013
REMEMBERING

Shirley Ann Kovarik

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Dell Kovarik

November 8, 2013

My mother in law was a dear sweet lady, I thank her for having such a wonderful son ,my husband Terry, her encouragement and strength helped us through the last 28 years. She told terry she was proud of him and his role of parent to angela and grandfather to his step grandkids. When she was barely able to knit she did her last christmas stocking for our little grandson Averey,he and the girls will treasure these stockings always, as she has made these for everyone one of us, it was her way of uniting all of us together.
She and Theodore has left a wonderful family and legacy behind,and we are truly grateful, as I will always be to have known such wonderful parent in-laws. Thank you. Our love will for- ever be stronger now to have known them.

John Burton

November 5, 2013

I hope you are dancing Beautiful Aunt Shirley! Thank you for all the memories. Condolences and love to everyone.

Carol Carter

November 4, 2013

My condolences to the entire family. Shirley and I became mother-in-laws together when our children married, and I am very privileged to have known her for so many years. Her love for her family was so strong and she always had a straight answer anytime you had a question. One of my favorite memories was at the house up north, Carol, Donna and Shirley were sitting on the deck and I joined one of the best gab sessions ever! May she rest in peace.

Jessica Popio Roca

November 4, 2013

With deepest sympathy. May you always treasure the times you had with her and know now that she is with God and all those who have gone before

Lucete Jones

November 4, 2013

My deepest sympathy for your lost. May she rest in peace.

Terrence Kovarik

November 4, 2013

A Great Mission Concludes

Shirley Ann Koehler Kovarik completed her life's mission at 8:22 PM, November 1, 2013.

She accomplished much in 77 short years. She was born March 9, 1935. A child of the Great Depression. It was a challenging time for her parents, Max G. Koehler and Dorothy Koehler, and her siblings Donna and Max, also known as "Jerry". But it was also a time that would define her character. Like all who would live through that time and a world at war six-years later, Shirley would learn resilience and self reliance. Those qualities would serve her throughout her life.

She took on responsibility, in part because her parents would instill it in her, especially with her younger siblings, Lois (for the two months that earth was her home) Carol and Ken. But gradually, responsibility to others would become a lifestyle. That sense would guide her through high school, through college, nursing school, Henry Ford Hospital and to Hawthorne Center in Northville, where she would make her career.

But she would take her skills and gifts beyond her work-a-day world to those she knew who were ailing. Administering inoculations to Aunt Ruby, when she needed them, forgoing personal time in the Summer of 1974 to simultaneously help care for her mother-in-law, who was stricken by a stroke, and Diana Lemiuex, a neighbor girl and friend of her daughter Sue, terminally ill with cancer, and eventually helping our father, Theodore, through his battle with heart disease, her fiancé , Leigh Riechel, with terminal cancer, before starting her own long, bold fight with breast cancer in 1999. She also helped her brother in law, Ted Burton, who developed Alzheimers Disease. All this before her fight that ended November 1, 2013.

Shirley took on life's challenges with the same determination that got her through a rough time to be a child, through a fight with polio, through school, through college and nursing school. That included the day she exchanged wedding vows in May 1957 with Theodore Joseph Kovarik at St. Agatha's Parish in Redford Township, Michigan. With a nine year age difference, both would learn the value and the necessity of a sense of humor.

Then came parenthood. Terrence (Terry) arrived in 1958, just months after Shirley and Ted moved into their home in Livonia, Michigan. Terry was nearly born in the house when Shirley went into labor weeks earlier than her March due date. It was also when Ted was working his 48 hour shift with the Livonia Fire Department, in the midst of one of the worst winter storms ever. Her brother Ken got to the house to get Shirley to Henry Ford Hospital. But while getting everything to go, Ken's car broke down and the two other cars batteries died in the cold. Somehow Kenny got a vehicle going and got Shirley to the hospital just in time.
The subsequent arrivals of Susan in 1961, Thomas in 1965 and Richard in 1966 were relatively uneventful.
Parenting came with challenges and trials. Shirley was certain at times in her children's lives that achieving world peace, racial harmony and restoring Lake Erie to pristine condition had nothing on child rearing. But if her children brought her and Ted aggravation at times, they also brought them joy. She was her kids biggest fan and booster at piano recitals, little league basketball, baseball, horse shows and junior and senior high school football games, plays and concerts. Win or lose, good performances or so-so, Shirley let you know she was on your side. That support would continue after transitioning to grand-parenthood. It would allow her the opportunity to take the trip of a lifetime to Russia for a hockey tournament.

Raising a family also offered Shirley the chance to showcase her creative self reliance. Her kids, like everybody's, needed clothes constantly. So Shirley took the needed patterns, took to the sewing machine and created clothing, costumes, etc that would rival any chain store.
She was the original working mom. Maintaining a household and career when it was the exception rather than the norm. It was through such efforts that she and dad opened the world, to the extent of their abilities, to her kids. We can never forget our first trip to Colorado, where our grandparents had moved. The great spring weather that accompanied us to Denver, or the fierce snow storm that moved in overnight and stranded us in the thriving metropolis of Silver Plume, Colorado. 1970 population of 34 summertime, 19 people various dogs and a few horses
come late winter/early spring. It would be a 24-hour layover at a gas station/general store, through the generosity of the owners that would test the ability of all of us to keep ourselves amused, occupied and out of trouble and away from each others throats. Through mom's guidance, discipline and sheer threats of allowance withdrawals, we succeeded. By morning's light when dad and mom were deciding whether to proceed in the still snowy weather, I , being the oldest sibling, spoke up for the others: “Damn the storm! Let's go.” The next leg was soon under way to everyone's delight. Although my right cheek stung the whole trip to Grand Junction after Shirley slapped me. She never really said whether it was prompted by a bout of cabin fever or the fact I had used the word “damn” in her presence. I guess I'll never know the answer now.
That trip, however, would be the first of many that would take us all around the Great Lakes, the Western United States, through Ontario, the prairie provinces of Canada and Alberta and British Columbia. My favorite memories from the western Canada trip were sitting around our site at Kicking Horse Falls National Park in June having dinner in shorts and shirt sleevesband looking at the snow blowing off the mountain peak nearby. Then there was the trip to Banff when we noticed a lot of cars stopped along side of the road. As we drove a little further, we soon saw why. Some Big Horn ship were coming up to everybody and scoring treats, such as cookies, crackers and carrots. Of course, we had to stop, too. Mom got out the camera waiting to get a picture with the other tourists out of the way. As they left, one of the sheep turned toward mom. She focused, hoping the sheep would stop for the perfect picture. The sheep moved forward, hoping for treats from mom, and she got her shot. It showed this Big Horn Sheep, it's head filling 9/10ths of the frame and tiny little torso and legs in the bottom tenth of the frame. Then there was the morning in the campground in Banff National Park where mom had gone outside for a walk and returned to tell us all that an elk was at a nearby camp site. We went there quickly and saw the elk just grazing near one site, where a man was seated within five-yards of the male elk and tossing bread in his path toward our direction. It came close enough to brush against our hands, and didn't even flinch when we touched him. Mom captured that rare event on film.

Mom also made sure, with dad's guidance, that all of us were grounded morally and spiritually, even if we didn't comprehend or appreciate it at the time. Saturday morning catechism played the big, and in the kids eyes most inconvenient role. We went to classroom settings five-days a week during fall and winter. Why was it really necessary to do it a sixth day, we thought and protested?

“It's good for you,” was the answer, which was like a mantra for everything from horrible tasting medicine to social situations with kids we just couldn't stand or care about.

In the long run, it was also the correct answer. Those Saturday morning sessions, Saturday and Sunday mass would lay the ground work that would pave the way for the Lord Jesus to assume the central role in our lives. It made us realize that this mortal life that we've been blessed with is a limited time offer from Yahweh. A great gift to be cherished, endured, suffered and experienced to the full. We must always remember it comes from the One who is greater than all of us combined.

Our mother, Shirley, has lived that gift to the fullest. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999. She began to live her own version of “Catch Me. If You Can”. She knew it was likely that cancer would catch up to her one day. But she was not resigned to going down without a fight. She went through all kinds of treatments, all kinds of drugs that could tire her but not keep her down. She kept golfing, even scoring a pair of holes in one, gardening, boating, spending quality time with her adult children and her grandchildren and delighted in her great-grandchildren, working with the Moose, playing bingo, cheering on the Tigers and occasional trips to play penny slots at any convenient casino. She taunted her pursuer for 13-years with her dignity, joy and generosity in tact.

But, as we know all too painfully, the pursuer caught up with her.

In our last one on one, face to face talk I sat on the side of mom's bed with my legs crossed.

“Boy this hasn't happened in decades,” I said, remembering the many times us kids would come into her and dad's room at the late hour of 6:00 AM on the weekends, when they thought sleeping in was a pretty good idea.

I thought she was sleeping at first, so I prayed over her, praying Isiah 53: 4-5, Psalm 103 and Psalm 23. After

finishing, she opened her eyes and started reminding me that my role as big brother was still valid.

“Keep an eye on Susie (sister hates being called that) she told me. “Make sure she takes care of herself when the time comes.”

“I'm proud of you for all you've accomplished. Proud of what you've done, proud of who you've become.” She added.

In 15-minutes, we said more than some people could ever have said in multiple lifetimes. She told me that I've done good.

But it must be said. Mom you cannot be any prouder of me than I've been to call you “Mom!”

Angela Krawczak

November 3, 2013

With deepest sympathy, may she rest with God...

November 3, 2013

My condolences to Shirley's family. There are so many happy memories. Our sons went
through the teenage "angst" together. Shirley and I and several other Mothers had a connection that we called the "Mother's Militia", which was a shared watch for our sons in High School. It brings a smile even today. As we know, life is a journey and Shirley had a wonderful one.
Susan Warner
Farmington, MI

Terrence Kovarik

November 3, 2013

A Great Mission Concludes

Shirley Ann Koehler Kovarik completed her life's mission at 8:22 PM, November 1, 2013.  

She accomplished much in 77 short years.  She was born March 9, 1935. A child of the Great Depression.  It was a challenging time for her parents, Max G. Koehler and Dorothy Koehler, and her siblings Donna and Max, also known as "Jerry".   But it was also a time that would define her character.  Like all who would live through that time and a world at war six-years later,  Shirley would learn resilience and self reliance.  Those qualities would serve her throughout her life.

She took on responsibility, in part because her parents would instill it in her, especially with her younger siblings, Lois (for the two months that earth was her home) Carol and Ken.  But gradually, responsibility to others would become a lifestyle.  That sense would guide her through high school, through college, nursing school,  Henry Ford Hospital and to Hawthorne Center in Northville, where she would make her career.

But she would take her skills and gifts beyond her work-a-day world to those she knew who were ailing.  Administering inoculations  to Aunt Ruby, when she needed them, forgoing personal time in the Summer of 1974 to simultaneously help care for her mother-in-law, who was stricken by a stroke, and Diana Lemiuex, a neighbor girl and friend of her daughter Sue, terminally ill with cancer, and eventually helping our father, Theodore, through his battle with heart disease, her fiancé , Leigh Riechel, with terminal cancer, before starting her own long, bold fight with breast cancer in 1999. She also helped her brother in law, Ted Burton, who developed Alzheimers Disease. All this before her fight that ended  November 1, 2013.

Shirley took on life's challenges with the same determination that got her through a rough time to be a child, through a fight with polio, through school, through college and nursing school. That included the day she exchanged wedding vows in May 1957 with Theodore Joseph Kovarik at St. Agatha's Parish in Redford Township, Michigan.  With a nine year age difference, both would learn the value and the necessity of a sense of humor.

Then came parenthood.  Terrence (Terry) arrived in 1958, just months after Shirley and Ted moved into their home in Livonia, Michigan.  Terry was nearly born in the house when Shirley went into labor weeks earlier than her March due date.  It was also when Ted was working his 48 hour shift with the Livonia Fire Department, in the midst of one of the worst winter storms ever.  Her brother Ken got to the house to get Shirley to Henry Ford Hospital.  But while getting everything to go, Ken's car broke down and the two other cars batteries died in the cold.  Somehow Kenny got a vehicle going and got Shirley to the hospital just in time. 
  The subsequent arrivals of Susan in 1961,  Thomas in 1965 and Richard in 1966 were relatively uneventful.
  Parenting came with challenges and trials.  Shirley was certain at times in her children's lives that achieving world peace, racial harmony and restoring Lake Erie to pristine condition had nothing on child rearing.  But if her children brought her and Ted aggravation at times, they also brought them joy.  She was her kids biggest fan and booster at piano recitals, little league basketball, baseball, horse shows and junior and senior high school football games, plays and concerts.  Win or lose, good performances or so-so, Shirley let you know she was on your side. That support would continue after transitioning to grand-parenthood.  It would allow her the opportunity to take the trip of a lifetime to Russia for a hockey tournament.

  Raising a family also offered Shirley the chance to showcase her creative self reliance.  Her kids, like everybody's, needed clothes constantly.  So Shirley took the needed patterns, took to the sewing machine and created clothing, costumes, etc that would rival any chain store.
  She was the original working mom. Maintaining a household and career when it was the exception rather than the norm. It was through such efforts that she and dad opened the world, to the extent of their abilities, to her kids. We can never forget our first trip to Colorado, where our grandparents had moved. The great spring weather that accompanied us to Denver, or the fierce snow storm that moved in overnight and stranded us in the thriving metropolis of Silver Plume, Colorado. 1970 population of 34 summertime, 19 people various dogs and a few horses
come late winter/early spring. It would be a 24-hour layover at a gas station/general store, through the generosity of the owners that would test the ability of all of us to keep ourselves amused, occupied and out of trouble and away from each others throats. Through mom's guidance, discipline and sheer threats of allowance withdrawals, we succeeded. By morning's light when dad and mom were deciding whether to proceed in the still snowy weather, I , being the oldest sibling, spoke up for the others: “Damn the storm! Let's go.” The next leg was soon under way to everyone's delight. Although my right cheek stung the whole trip to Grand Junction after Shirley slapped me. She never really said whether it was prompted by a bout of cabin fever or the fact I had used the word “damn” in her presence. I guess I'll never know the answer now.
That trip, however, would be the first of many that would take us all around the Great Lakes, the Western United States, through Ontario, the prairie provinces of Canada and Alberta and British Columbia. My favorite memories from the western Canada trip were sitting around our site at Kicking Horse Falls National Park in June having dinner in shorts and shirt sleevesband looking at the snow blowing off the mountain peak nearby. Then there was the trip to Banff when we noticed a lot of cars stopped along side of the road. As we drove a little further, we soon saw why. Some Big Horn ship were coming up to everybody and scoring treats, such as cookies, crackers and carrots. Of course, we had to stop, too. Mom got out the camera waiting to get a picture with the other tourists out of the way. As they left, one of the sheep turned toward mom. She focused, hoping the sheep would stop for the perfect picture. The sheep moved forward, hoping for treats from mom, and she got her shot. It showed this Big Horn Sheep, it's head filling 9/10ths of the frame and tiny little torso and legs in the bottom tenth of the frame. Then there was the morning in the campground in Banff National Park where mom had gone outside for a walk and returned to tell us all that an elk was at a nearby camp site. We went there quickly and saw the elk just grazing near one site, where a man was seated within five-yards of the male elk and tossing bread in his path toward our direction. It came close enough to brush against our hands, and didn't even flinch when we touched him. Mom captured that rare event on film.

Mom also made sure, with dad's guidance, that all of us were grounded morally and spiritually, even if we didn't comprehend or appreciate it at the time. Saturday morning catechism played the big, and in the kids eyes most inconvenient role. We went to classroom settings five-days a week during fall and winter. Why was it really necessary to do it a sixth day, we thought and protested?

“It's good for you,” was the answer, which was like a mantra for everything from horrible tasting medicine to social situations with kids we just couldn't stand or care about.

In the long run, it was also the correct answer. Those Saturday morning sessions, Saturday and Sunday mass would lay the ground work that would pave the way for the Lord Jesus to assume the central role in our lives. It made us realize that this mortal life that we've been blessed with is a limited time offer from Yahweh. A great gift to be cherished, endured, suffered and experienced to the full. We must always remember it comes from the One who is greater than all of us combined.

Our mother, Shirley, has lived that gift to the fullest. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999. She began to live her own version of “Catch Me. If You Can”. She knew it was likely that cancer would catch up to her one day. But she was not resigned to going down without a fight. She went through all kinds of treatments, all kinds of drugs that could tire her but not keep her down. She kept golfing, even scoring a pair of holes in one, gardening, boating, spending quality time with her adult children and her grandchildren and delighted in her great-grandchildren, working with the Moose, playing bingo, cheering on the Tigers and occasional trips to play penny slots at any convenient casino. She taunted her pursuer for 13-years with her dignity, joy and generosity in tact.

But, as we know all too painfully, the pursuer caught up with her.

In our last one on one, face to face talk I sat on the side of mom's bed with my legs crossed.

“Boy this hasn't happened in decades,” I said, remembering the many times us kids would come into her and dad's room at the late hour of 6:00 AM on the weekends, when they thought sleeping in was a pretty good idea.

I thought she was sleeping at first, so I prayed over her, praying Isiah 53: 4-5, Psalm 103 and Psalm 23. After

finishing, she opened her eyes and started reminding me that my role as big brother was still valid.

“Keep an eye on Susie (sister hates being called that) she told me. “Make sure she takes care of herself when the time comes.”

“I'm proud of you for all you've accomplished. Proud of what you've done, proud of who you've become.” She added.

In 15-minutes, we said more than some people could ever have said in multiple lifetimes. She told me that I've done good.

But it must be said. Mom you cannot be any prouder of me than I've been to call you “Mom!”

Janet Ralston

November 3, 2013

Beautiful Aunt Shirley, I feel like I have lost a part of myself. You are so loved and will be so missed. Memories will be cherished always.