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Obituaries


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Florence Miller Lightfoot

Died: Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Age: 86
Grosse Pointe Woods resident Florence Miller Lightfoot, 86, died Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012. She was a native Detroiter and lived in Grosse Pointe Woods most of her life.

She was predeceased by her husband, Charles Lightfoot and her parents, Raymond and Julia Miller.

Mrs. Lightfoot was employed for many years as a speech pathologist for the Grosse Pointe Public School System. She was a graduate of Albion College, held a master’s degree from Wayne State University and did graduate work in speech pathology at Northwestern University.

She was a member of Grosse Pointe Congregational Church and a member of the Beta Xi Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma teaching sorority.

She loved to travel, having taken many European trips, as well as trips to China and crossing the Panama Canal. She was a docent for the Detroit Historical Society and a classroom volunteer for Grosse Pointe schools. She was an avid reader and knitter. She was a devoted fan of the Detroit Tigers and the Northwestern University Wildcats.

Mrs. Lightfoot is survived by her daughter, Jane Lightfoot; son-in-law, Ed Gaffney and grandson, Jack Watson. Her family said she was a kind and generous person and will be missed greatly by her family and many friends.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012, at the Grosse Pointe Congregational Church, 240 Chalfonte, Grosse Pointe Farms. Visitation begins at 10:30 a.m. at the church.

Donations may be made in her name to the Detroit Historical Society, 5401 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48202 or the Beta Xi Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma.

Susanne E. Dotson

Died: Monday, August 13, 2012
Age: 80
Grosse Pointe Park resident Susanne E. Dotson, 80, died Monday, Aug. 13, 2012.

She was the beloved wife of John, who predeceased her, and loving mother of David (Laurie), Debbie York (Chandler), Susanne Gray and Michael (Susan). She was the proud grandmother of Heather (Mark), Christopher (Jaime), James, Kristin, Jonathan (Anita), Stephen, Jason, Elizabeth, Joseph, John Ryan and Katherine and great-grandmother of Erin, Andrew, Katelyn, Jacob, Lucas and Ian. She also is survived by her sister, Gail O’Dwyer (Don).

In addition to her husband, she was predeceased by her son, Jack.

A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 16, at St. Ambrose Catholic Church, 15020 Hampton, Grosse Pointe Park. Visitation begins at 10:30 at the church.

Donations may be made to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation at jdf.org or Beaumont Hospice, care of Beaumont Foundation, P.O. Box 5802, Troy, MI 48007-9620.

Share a memory at ahpeters.com.

Renee Bommarito Serventi

Died: Tuesday, August 07, 2012
Age: 38
Former longtime Grosse Pointe resident Renee Bommarito Serventi, 38, died Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012.

Born July 5, 1974, she was the first of four children born to Mary Margaret Felling and Vito Bommarito. At age 4, she was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. She wrestled this disease until the end of her life.

She attended Grosse Pointe public schools and graduated from Grosse Pointe South High School in 1992. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in special education from Wayne State University.

She had a love of children. For many years, she was a nanny to local families while completing her education. She taught in the Grosse Pointe Public School System until moving to California last year with her husband, Tony. She then taught in the Palo Alto school system.

Mrs. Serventi was of Irish, German, Polish and Italian descent. Her family said she melded the best of all these cultures: her love of cooking from the Italian, her effervescence and humor from the Irish, her absolute determination from the German and her Catholic devotion from the Polish.

As a child, Mrs. Serventi enjoyed spending time on the ancestral family farm in Padua, Minn. She celebrated her 38th birthday July 5 with her husband, mother and dozens of aunt, uncles and cousins.

She enjoyed arts and crafts, traveling, cooking, entertaining, shopping and spending time with her family and friends.

Her family described Mrs. Serventi as loving, generous, brave, vivacious, dedicated, witty, creative and gregarious.

She will be deeply missed.

Mrs. Serventi is survived by her husband, Tony; mother, Mary; father, Vito; siblings, Helen, Frank and Edward; nieces and nephews; and many loving aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.

Visitation will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 9, at Chas. Verheyden Funeral Home, 16300 Mack Ave., Grosse Pointe Park.

A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Friday, Aug. 10, at St. Ambrose Catholic Church, 15020 Hampton, Grosse Pointe Park. Visitation begins at 10:30 a.m. at the church.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to ADA Southfield Office, 300 Galleria Office Center, Suite 111, Southfield, MI 48034. On the memo line indicate Camp Midicha, in memory of Renee Bommarito Serventi.

Clara Marie DeWeese Quinn

Died: Tuesday, August 07, 2012
Age: 94
Clara Marie DeWeese Quinn, 94, died Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2012.

She was born in Macomb, Ill., to Myrle Root DeWeese and Arthur Perry DeWeese and grew up in Bloomington, Ill. She put herself through the University of Michigan, earning degrees in English literature and dental hygiene in 1943. She met her husband, William T. Quinn D.D.S., when she came to Detroit in 1944 to fill a dental hygienist position in his office then located on East Jefferson Ave. at Chalmers. They married in 1945.

Mrs. Quinn was a social and talented lady who had many interests including traveling the world, Girl Scout leadership, knitting, sports, jewelry making, photography, genealogy, politics, chair caning, reading and especially in her later years, following every televised Detroit Tigers game.

She played piano, guitar, violin, harmonica and trumpet. She also was a librarian for the Detroit Public Library for several years in the 1980s. On her last day of life, she was still making new friends at the residence she shared with her daughter, Monica.

Her family said Mrs. Quinn was lucky enough to pass away as she always wished: in her sleep in her own bed.

One interesting memory Mrs. Quinn shared with her family was, as a young child, seeing the U.S. Postal Service plane piloted by Charles Lindbergh fly over her parents’ central Illinois farm on its route between St. Louis and Chicago.

She also was proud to be the descendant of Revolutionary War and Civil War veterans, and she was able to trace one of her Dutch ancestors back to the mid-1500s.

She was a devoted mother and an enduring role model for her entire family to her last day.

Mrs. Quinn is survived by her daughters, Carol J. Quinn D.D.S. (Tom), Monica J. Quinn and Janet E. Quinn; grandchildren, Heath Richards, Ashley Menth (Jason), Christopher Kocsis, Ivan Richards (Kim), Ryan Locke (Alison), and Caitlin Harden (Wes) and great-grandchildren, Molly, Paul and Abby Menth, Felicity, Mason, and Lillian Harden, Tiffany Richards, Bethany Halsey (Gabe) and Kaitlyn and Tyler Richards.

She was predeceased by her husband; parents; twin brother, Dr. Harold Lee DeWeese (Jewel) and her sister, Madalon DeWeese Self.

A memorial service will be held at 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 7, at the Grosse Pointe United Methodist Church, 211 Moross Road, Grosse Pointe Farms.

Donations may be made in Mrs. Quinn’s honor to the Paula L. Tutman Children’s Dental Fund at U of D Mercy School of Dentistry at https://community.udmercy.edu/sslpage.aspx?pid=612 or mailed to Kelly Brault, UDM School of Dentistry, 2700 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Detroit, MI 48208-2576.

Gerald F. Van Vliet

Died: Friday, August 03, 2012
Age: 64
Gerald F. Van Vliet, 64, collapsed and died Friday, Aug. 3, 2012, while jogging in his home town of Grosse Pointe Farms.

Born May 4, 1948, in Salamanca, N.Y., he was known by some of his friends as Van. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from West Virginia University and his Juris Doctorate degree from Michigan State University. In addition, he received a master’s degree in taxation from Walsh College.

Prior to his employment of 31 years as a partner with the law firm Bannon and Associates, Mr. Van Vliet was employed for 10 years with the Internal Revenue Service intelligence division.

An avid reader and runner, he also enjoyed music and other cultural interests. He was a member of the Porsche Club 356 Registry and Grosse Pointe United Methodist Church.

Mr. Van Vliet is survived by his loving and beloved wife of 39 years, Polly Ann Hardy; son, Clark Van Vliet of Boston; brother, Dean Van Vliet of Scranton, Pa., and sister, Marcia Johnson of Warren, Pa.

He was predeceased by his parents, Richard and Eleanor (nee McMillan) Van Vliet.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 11 at Grosse Pointe United Methodist Church, 211 Moross Road, Grosse Pointe Farms. Visitation begins at noon at the church.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to American Heart Association, 3816 Paysphere Circle, Chicago, IL 60674.

Ethel Gaspar

Died: Friday, August 03, 2012
Age: 107
Ethel Gaspar, nee Seech, passed away peacefully Friday, Aug. 3, 2012, at the Farmington Hills Inn – Farmington Hills. She was 107 years old. She was a former resident of Maidstone, Ontario, Canada.

She was the beloved wife of John Gaspar, who predeceased her in 1989 and daughter of the late Joseph and Anna Seech.

She is survived by her son, Edward J. Gaspar, his wife, Roberta, and their children, Kyle, Carson and Alicia; sisters-in-law, Agnes Broderick (the late Frank), Annie Downey and her husband, Weldon, and Angela Gaspar (the late Ernie); nieces and nephews, Carson Krol (Judy), Karen Pelletier (Lionel), Barbara Seech, Virginia Schmidt and Ronald Seech of Windsor. She also is survived by many nieces and nephews of the Gaspar family.

In addition to her husband and parents, she was predeceased by her sister, Margaret Krol and brother, Joseph Seech.

Mrs. Gaspar was a former member of St. Mary’s Parish in Maidstone. She was a devoted homemaker all her life who also had a green thumb, growing her own vegetables and flowers.

A funeral Mass was celebrated Aug. 7 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Maidstone.

Gerald Albert Zahler

Died: Thursday, August 02, 2012
Age: 73
Gerald Albert Zahler, 73, of Grosse Pointe Park, succumbed to ampulary cancer on Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012. He died peacefully in his home with his wife and son by his side.

He was born Aug. 27, 1938, in Detroit, to Albert and Rita J. Zahler. He graduated from Mumford High School in 1956 and attended Lawrence Technological University and the University of Michigan before receiving an anthropology degree from Wayne State University in 1978. After seeing all three of his sons through high school, he went back to school at WSU and received a second degree in civil engineering in 1988, where he was a member of the National Civil Engineering Honor Society Chi Epsilon. He was a civil engineer for the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department.

Mr. Zahler loved playing his classical guitar, chess, reading and engaging in intense philosophical and political discussions. He spent the last 22 years of his life with his wife, Mary Kasiborski Zahler, with whom he shared a passion for classical music, hiking, their grandchildren and each other. They enjoyed backpacking throughout the United States and through several foreign countries. He also spent quality time with his grandchildren, teaching them chess, reading to them and playing with them at the Grosse Pointe Park pool. He enjoyed taking them to Starbucks and then Borders. He and his wife also took their grandchildren to Toronto, Stratford, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and other cultural venues.

Mr. Zahler is survived by his wife, Mary Kasiborski Zahler; his mother, Rita “Judy”; the mother of his children, Judith Anne Debol; his children, Erik Zahler (Lisa), Anthony Zahler, Scott Zahler, Steven Kasiborski (Andrea), Beth Kasiborski and John Kasiborski (Mary Kay); siblings, Rosemarie Cowlin (the late Douglas), Susan Petersen and Richard Zahler (Patricia Petrat); and grandchildren, Karly, Elizabeth, Adrianna and Ryan Zahler; Reilly McNamara; Adelle, Jonah, Calvin, Cole and Liberty Kasiborski and Nicholas and Sara Kasiborski.

He was predeceased by his father, Abraham Zahler.

A funeral was held Sunday, Aug. 5, at the Hebrew Memorial Funeral Home in Oak Park with burial in Beth Abraham Cemetery. The family is sitting Shiva at their home, from 3 to 8 p.m., through Friday, Aug. 10. Family and friends may visit during this time.

Memorial contributions can be made to the Chamber Music Society of Detroit, 31731 Northwestern Highway, Suite 259W, Farmington Hills, MI 48334 or a charity of the donor’s choice.

Mary-Claire Johnson

Died: Thursday, August 02, 2012
Age: 72
Mary-Claire Johnson, nee Bialko, 72, passed away peacefully Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012.

She was the beloved mother of Julie Rocap (Don) and Michael Johnson (Suzy); loving grandmother of Sarah, Katie and Patrick Rocap and Miles and Leo Johnson; dear sister of Elizabeth Johnson and Sylvia DeRothschild; loving aunt of Charles Johnson, Jeanne Gaughan (Don), Laurie Sawatzke (Paul), Mary Beth Drobnick (Karl), Kimberly Johnson, and their children.

Mrs. Johnson will be deeply missed by those who knew her.

A funeral Mass was celebrated Aug. 14 at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church, St. Clair Shores.

Share a memory at verheyden.org.

Carl Hess Wilson

Died: Wednesday, August 01, 2012
Age: 65
Grosse Pointe Park resident Carl Hess Wilson, 65, died Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012, at Henry Ford Hospice in Warren.

He was born in Detroit, graduated from Grosse Pointe High School in 1964 and attended Wayne State University. He formed and owned a textile productions company.

Mr. Wilson enjoyed restoring and racing hydroplanes, hockey, baseball, collecting art and was an avid Red Wings fan. He was a member of the Detroit Yacht Club and the American Power Boat Association.

Mr. Wilson is survived by his wife, Rebecca Wilson; stepdaughters, Lisa Roddis, Sarah Roddis and Lauren Roddis; father, Arthur L. Wilson; stepmother, Edicta Wilson; sister, Sue Crane (Dave); brothers, Tom Wilson (Laura) and Bill Wilson (Judy); sisters-in-law, Mary Lee Kuhn and Nancy Edmisten (Keith) and brother-in-law, Henry Kuhn.

He was predeceased by his mother, Betty Hess-Wilson.

A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, Aug. 13, at Metropolitan United Methodist Church, 8000 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Visitation begins at 10 a.m. at the church.

Donations may be made to Henry Ford Health System, Hermelin Brain Tumor Center, c/o Office of Philanthropy, 1 Ford Place, Suite 5A, Detroit, MI 48202.

Robert B. Hamlin

Died: Wednesday, August 01, 2012
Longtime Grosse Pointe Woods resident Robert B. Hamlin passed away Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012, at home where he lived 42 years with his wife. He is survived by his wife, Joanne, to whom he was married 56 years.

Mr. Hamlin started his career in the newspaper business at a young age. Born in Kentucky, he moved to Detroit with his parents as a young boy and as soon as he was old enough, started working his first newspaper route, not knowing this would turn into his lifelong career.

He was hired by the Detroit News as a district manager and was promoted to circulation manager. He worked for the News for 25 years. During the mid-1980s, with the start of USA Today, he was hired by Gannett Company Inc. and became its first general manager responsible for the distribution of the USA Today throughout Michigan and Ohio. He retired from Gannett in 1997 after 15 years in management.

Mr. Hamlin served his country in the U.S. Army during the Korean War from 1953 to 1955. During this time, he was selected to play for the Army baseball team playing to large crowds in Seoul Stadium.

He will be greatly missed by his large family and the many friends who knew him.

A funeral Mass was celebrated Aug. 4 at Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church, Grosse Pointe Woods.
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