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Rita J. Vermilion

Rita J. Vermilion

Died: Thursday, May 12, 2011
Age: 84
Longtime Grosse Pointe resident Rita J. Vermilion, 84, died Thursday, May 12, 2011.

Born April 10, 1927, in Detroit, to Simon and Angelina DeMaggio, she attended St. John Berchman Elementary School and St. Anthony High School.

She married Salvatore “Mark” Vermilion in 1947 and moved with him to his family farm near Los Angeles. The couple later moved to Detroit, where Mrs. Vermilion supported her husband as he finished his undergraduate degree and dental school.

Graced with a beautiful soprano voice, Mrs. Vermilion was known to burst into song at a moment’s notice. She enjoyed performing and sang with several choral groups, including the Judelaires, the Tuesday Musicale of Detroit and the choirs of Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church and St. Clare of Montefalco Catholic Church. She performed as a soloist and in choruses for numerous charity variety shows and the Grosse Pointe Theatre.

She also sang at weddings and funerals for family and friends. Her repertoire included everything from Broadway show tunes to classical pieces to sacred music.

When their children were grown, Mrs. Vermilion and her husband fostered several babies whom they tenderly cared for until the children were adopted.

Several years after her husband died of cancer, she married Gus Redmond, a dear friend of the couple. Mr. Redmond, also succumbed to cancer a few years later.

Mrs. Vermilion participated in the Stephen Ministry at her most recent parish, St. Mary of the Hills in Rochester Hills. She was a hospital gift shop volunteer at Beaumont Hospital in Troy and the former Bon Secours Hospital in Grosse Pointe.

An enthusiastic bridge player, she belonged to several bridge groups and also enjoyed a variety of card games and rummikub. Most recently she assembled hundreds of challenging jigsaw puzzles with caregivers and friends.

She loved gardening and always created cheerful flower beds for her home. She enjoyed knitting and made blankets and baby items for the special people in her life.

A gracious hostess, Mrs. Vermilion loved preparing her special recipes and hosted many parties and family celebrations at her home. She enjoyed traveling and visited many countries, but her favorite travel was to visit her siblings, children and grandchildren throughout the country.

Imbued with a wonderful sense of humor, she kept everyone laughing and looking at the bright side of life, even during her struggle following a massive stroke.

Mrs. Vermilion is survived by her children, Mark A. Vermilion, Joseph M. Vermilion and Mary Rose Vermilion Ph.D.; sister, Theresa Cantlon; seven grandchildren; stepchildren, Tom, Jim, Rick, Steve and Mary Redmond and their families; many nieces and nephews, and the loving caregivers who befriended her during her infirmity.

Visitation will be held from 3 to 8 p.m. Friday, May 20, at Price Funeral Home, 3725 Rochester Road, Troy. A scripture service will be held at 7 p.m.

A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, May 21, at St. Anastasia Church, 4571 John R, Troy. Visitation begins at 9 a.m.

Donations may be made to the National Hospice Foundation at nationalhospicefoundation.org or the American Cancer Society at cancer.org.

Helen W. Tourney

Helen W. Tourney

Died: Thursday, May 12, 2011
Age: 84
Former Grosse Pointe resident Helen W. Tourney passed away Thursday, May 12, 2011, at her home in Houston in the presence of her family and close friends, after an extended illness. She was 84.

She was born Oct. 16, 1926, in Davenport, Iowa, to William and Anna Wohler. A graduate of the University of Iowa with degrees in history and French, she met and married her husband, Dr. Garfield Tourney in 1950 while attending graduate school at Iowa.

The couple, along with daughters, resided in Grosse Pointe from 1958 to 1967 and from 1971 to 1978, during which time Dr. Tourney was a professor and chief of psychiatry at Wayne State University.

A lover of music and French philosophy, Mrs. Tourney was active in the Alliance Française de Grosse Pointe, including two stints as president of the club during the mid-1970s, and was renowned for hosting many successful soirees for the club at her home. Among her favorite authors were Gustave Flaubert, Albert Camus and Denis Diderot.

Mrs. Tourney, being passionate about all things “opera,” and in particular the works of Richard Wagner, was an early supporter of Michigan Opera Theater. Some of her favorite operas were “Der Rosenkavalier” by Richard Strauss and “tristan und Isolde” by Wagner. She was an accomplished bridge player, and enjoyed playing cards with friends in her spare time. She served as room mother at Defer Elementary School for each of her daughters. She and her family were members of St. James Lutheran Church in Grosse Pointe Farms.

In 1978, Mrs. Tourney and her husband relocated to Jackson, Miss., where she was a key supporter and volunteer with the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra. In 2001, due to health reasons, she moved to Houston to be closer to her daughters.

Mrs. Tourney is survived by her daughters and sons-in-law, Carolyn and Robert Florek of Houston, Patricia Ann of Sterling Heights and Catherine “Trinka” and David Doherty of Houston; grandchildren, Elizabeth Hughes (Daniel) Belzil, James Hughes, Daniel Florek and Julia Florek and her sister, Dorothy Huene of Mount Pleasant, Iowa.

She was predeceased by her husband, Garfield, who died in 1999.

A memorial service was held May 19 in Iowa.

Donations may be made to Houston Hospice, 1905 Holcombe Blvd., Houston, TX 77030-4123 or at houstonhospice.org.

Rebecca Joy Butler

Rebecca Joy Butler

Died: Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Age: 20
Rebecca Joy “Becky” Butler, 20, of Grosse Pointe Woods, died Wednesday, May 11, 2011, of pulmonary hypertension.

The daughter of Timothy and Beverly Butler, Becky was born May 7, 1991, in Taegue, South Korea, and graduated from Grosse Pointe North High School in 2009 where she played tennis.

She attended Purdue University and later transferred to Wayne State University. A business major, she was a proud member of Alpha Gamma Delta Sorority.

Becky is survived by her parents; brother, Wynn Butler, also of Grosse Pointe Woods; grandparents, James E. and Hazel Goodale of Collierville, Tenn. and many aunts, uncles and cousins.

She also is survived by her dear friend, Kyle Campbell of Grosse Pointe Woods.

A memorial service was held May 14 at Grosse Pointe Memorial Church in Grosse Pointe Farms.

Donations may be made to the Pulmonary Hypertension Association, 801 Roeder Road, Suite 1000, Silver Spring, MD 20910 or The Gift of Life, 3861 Research Park Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48108.

Express condolences or share a memory at ahpeters.com.

Peter Richard McGrath

Died: Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Age: 72
Peter Richard McGrath, 72, died Tuesday, May 10, 2011, in Stuart, Fla.

Born Jan. 31, 1939, in Flushing, N.Y. he was the son of John D. and Madeline (nee Areson) McGrath. He was raised in Grosse Pointe and attended the United States Military Academy in West Point, N.Y. He was a graduate of Wayne State University and a veteran of the U.S. Army.

For 40 years, he worked as a builder in Boynton Beach, Fla., and in Lynchburg, Va.

Mr. McGrath is survived by his sons, Shawn McGrath and his wife, Laurie Wilcox and their sons, Connor and Devin, and Kevin McGrath and his wife, Domenica Prieto, and their children, Kevin Jr. and Morgan, all of Annapolis, Md.; brothers, John McGrath and his wife, Peggy of Ottawa, Ill., and Robert McGrath and his wife, Chris, of Barrington, Ill.; sister, Barbara M. Logan of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla; his first wife, and the mother of his children, Gail S. (nee Herron) McGrath Berry of Stuart, Fla.; and three stepchildren, Clunet and Brooke Pettyjohn and their children, McKenna, Clunet Jr. and Mary Macon of Lynchburg, Va., Walker and Shanna and their child, Piper, of Roanoke, Va., and Page and John Birney and their children, Jack and Carter, of Baltimore, Md.

A funeral Mass was celebrated Saturday, May 14, 2011, at St. John the Evangelist Church in Clinton, Mass.

Express condolences at mcnallywatson.com.

Joan “Jody” Trefry Briscoe

Joan “Jody” Trefry Briscoe

Died: Monday, May 09, 2011
Age: 78
Former Grosse Pointe Farms resident Joan “Jody” Trefry Briscoe, 78, died Monday, May 9, 2011, in Glendale, Ariz. She was a former longtime resident of Los Angeles.

She was born Jan. 4, 1933, in Detroit to Donald and Margaret Trefry and graduated in 1950 from Grosse Pointe High School. She enjoyed gardening, traveling with her daughters to competitive horse shows and caring for her family.

Mrs. Briscoe is survived by her daughters, Linda (Will) Meek and Lisa; sons, Ralph Jr. (Gisella), Donald and Stephen (Denise); five grandchildren and her sister, Donna Lucas of Grosse Pointe Park. She also is survived by her former husband, Ralph.

She was predeceased by her parents.

A private burial was conducted by the Neptune Society of California.

Thomas Robert McCleary Jr.

Thomas Robert McCleary Jr.

Died: Sunday, May 08, 2011
Age: 85
Longtime Grosse Pointe Farms resident Thomas Robert McCleary Jr., 85, died Sunday, May 8, 2011, at St. John Hospital and Medical Center in Detroit.

Born and raised in Bronxville, N.Y., the second of Thomas and Johanna McCleary’s four children, Mr. McCleary’s family was poor and he poured himself into sports and his studies. He played basketball, baseball and football in high school.

In 1944, immediately upon graduation from high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and served two years with the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. The GI Bill made it possible for him to attend college, and he graduated from Brown University in 1950 with a Bachelor of Arts degree.

Mr. McCleary married Ann Burridge in 1958. They lived in Cincinnati before moving to Grosse Pointe in 1959. He spent his career in sales and worked as vice president of Uniroyal Tire Co. for more than 25 years. After he retired, at age 62, he threw himself into community service and devoting time to his family.

A dedicated Republican, Mr. McCleary was one of the founders and a past-president of the East Side Republican Club, and was active up until his death. He was a Michigan Republican Party State Committee member and on the executive committee of the 13th District. He also served as district chair and was a former member of the electoral college.

Mr. McCleary believed in giving back, and gave generously to Services for Older Citizens, Berea College in Kentucky, which provides full college scholarships to needy students, as well as to Grosse Pointe Memorial Church and many other charities.

He loved sports. In addition to his many high school sports, he played basketball at Brown University and tennis in his later years. He was a life-long Boston Red Sox fan.

More than anything, Mr. McCleary loved spending time with his family, especially his granddaughters, Grace and Emma Benninghoff and Meredith and Alexandra McCleary. He particularly enjoyed annual family trips to the Adirondack Park in upstate New York.

Mr. McCleary was a larger-than-life personality. He was obstinate, opinionated, loving, generous, smart, incredibly capable, loyal and unforgettable. He will be deeply missed.

Mr. McCleary is survived by his wife, Ann; daughter, Kathleen McCleary; son, Tom McCleary and four granddaughters. He also is survived by his sister, Dorothy McCleary and brother, Bill McCleary.

He was predeceased by his parents and sister, Joan McCleary.

A funeral service will be held at 1 p.m. Sunday, May 15, 2011, at Grosse Pointe Memorial Church, 16 Lakeshore, Grosse Pointe Farms.

Robert H. Adams

Robert H. Adams

Died: Friday, May 06, 2011
Age: 85
Former longtime Grosse Pointe Park and Grosse Pointe Farms resident Robert H. “Bob” Adams, 85, died peacefully Friday, May 6, 2011, surrounded by his children.

He was born July 23, 1925, in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, and graduated from the Chatham Collegiate Institute. After graduation, at age 17, he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force. Upon his discharge, he became a U.S. citizen and joined the U.S. Naval Air Corps. Upon completion of his service, he attended the University of Michigan, where he studied architecture.

After graduation, he married, Camilla, and joined Ford Motor Co., where he worked for many years as a corporate architect. In 1966, he left Ford and joined the firm of Ford and Earl Design Associates as executive vice president.

Mr. Adams was instrumental in the design of such famous buildings as The World Trade Center, The Sears Tower and The Ford Motor Company World Headquarters. He traveled the world working on projects in many countries, including Germany, Spain, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Great Britain, India and Italy.

After retiring in 1974, he purchased a home on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands where he was partners in two business ventures.

In 1985, he and his wife purchased a 130-year-old Victorian home in Marquette. The loving couple spent many months decorating their dream home in the style of 130 years ago.

Mr. Adams loved to collect antiques and equally loved to work in his many gardens. As a member of the beautification committee in Marquette, he named the “Petunia Pandemonium” that takes place each spring in the city.

After his wife passed away in 2003, Mr. Adams moved to Florida, where he has spent the winters ever since. His summers were spent at the family cottage in Rondeau Park, Ontario, Canada.

Mr. Adams is survived by his children, Kurt, Kris (John Kosinski), Clark, Jeff (Marcie), Todd (Maureen) and Brooke (Pete Bertolini); grandchildren, Nick and Charlie Kosinski, Zack and Beau Adams, Evan Adams, Jack and Andy Adams, Ian, Larry and Katie Adams and Kelly and Joe Bertolini and seven great-grandchildren.

He was predeceased by his beloved wife, Camilla.

A memorial service was held May 9 in Marquette.

Donations may be made to a scholarship fund for his grandson Andy Adams, who has autism, and sent to 1423 Margaret Place, St. Joseph, MI 49085 or Lake Superior Hospice, 914 W. Baraga Ave., Marquette, MI 49855.

Donald James Parsons Sr.

Donald James Parsons Sr.

Died: Thursday, May 05, 2011
Age: 84
Donald “Don” James Parsons Sr., 83, passed away Thursday, May 5, 2011, at his home in Grosse Pointe Woods.

He was the beloved husband of Marjorie (nee Bates), to whom he was married 56 years; beloved father of James “Jim” (Krista), Joanna Parsons, John (Vanessa) and the proud grandfather of Erin Parsons, Tyler and Amanda Gibson and Evan and Zane Parsons. He also is survived by many loving nieces and nephews.

He was predeceased by his parents, Carmelita and Harry Parsons; sister, Eileen Parsons and brother, Harry Parsons.

Mr. Parsons especially liked being with his family and friends. He was known for playing board and card games with the young children, playing his ukulele and singing all of his sailing songs.

For more than 20 years, he and Mrs. Parsons traveled to Illinois to have Thanksgiving dinner with his son, Jim and his family. Every Christmas all would come home and “Dad” would stuff and roast the turkey and fix all the trimmings.

In the summertime, the camper would come out and family and friends would travel from Michigan to Florida. Mr. Parsons would stop and talk to everyone he met. He made it a point to get together with old friends at least every other week.

Mr. Parsons was born Nov. 5, 1927, in Cortland, N.Y., and moved with his family to Detroit in 1933. At 17, he enlisted in the U.S. Naval Service Coast Guard. He was accepted into the Reserve Officer Candidate Naval Station, Treasure Island, Calif. He then served on the CGC Chautauqua and the CG Loran Station, Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada, Farallon Islands, LSFS, Calif. Mr. Parsons was honorably discharged in the summer of 1948.

He graduated in 1952 from the University of Detroit. While there he belonged to several groups, Kappa Sigma Kappa, Blue Key National Honor Fraternity, Sodality of Our Blessed Lady, the debate team, the intercollegiate sailing association and the student council.

Mr. Parsons became a certified life underwriter and estate planner. Later, he returned to U of D as its alumni director and became reacquainted with many friends.

In 1962, Mr. Parsons and his family settled in Grosse Pointe Woods. He joined St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church and served on many committees. He joined the Amvets and Rotary clubs of Harper Woods. One club dear to his heart was the Girls Scouts of America. He helped girls in fundraising, camping and converting their paperwork to the computer. He was also a Grosse Pointe Theatre season ticketholder since 1962.

His quest to help others trace their genealogy led to a new pastime.

A memorial visitation will begin at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, May 28, at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church, 21620 Greater Mack, St. Clair Shores, with a Mass beginning at 10 a.m.

Donations may be made to Catholic Charities Motherhood Program and sent to Chas. Verheyden Funeral Home, 16300 Mack, Grosse Pointe Park, MI 48230.

Michael Nicholas Counen

Michael Nicholas Counen

Died: Tuesday, May 03, 2011
Age: 81
Former Grosse Pointe Shores resident Michael Nicholas Counen of Sarasota, Fla., died Tuesday, May 3, 2011.

He was born July 30, 1929, and was a graduate of Roosevelt High School in Yonkers, N.Y. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue University where he was a member of Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity. He served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force from 1951-1953 during the Korean War and then earned a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Michigan.

Mr. Counen was an executive with Owens-Corning Fiberglas in Toledo, Ohio, from 1955 to 1972. He was treasurer and chief financial officer of Bundy Corp. in Detroit, and later president of overseas operations. He held either president or director positions with other companies including Dixon Industries Corp. of Rhode Island; Deliverance Insurance Co., Ltd. of Bermuda; Titleflex Corp. of Massachuetts; Usui Bundy Tubing of Japan; Pusan Bundy Tubing Co. of Korea; NTN Rulon Co. of Japan; and Bundy of Australia.

Mr. Counen and his wife, Marilyn, moved to Sarasota in 1993 where he became a master gardener and volunteered at Selby Gardens. He also volunteered at Ringling Museum and tutored math students at Church of the Palms. He served as president and treasurer of the University of Michigan Club of Sarasota and also president of the Manasota chapter of SCORE, a nonprofit association dedicated to helping small businesses start up, grow and succeed.

Mr. Counen was an active member of his church, serving as president of St. James Lutheran Church in Grosse Pointe Farms and as trustee for the Munderloh Foundation, a nonprofit corporation which awards scholarship grants to seminary students, from 1979 to 1993. He also served in various leadership positions at Church of the Palms in Sarasota, Fla.

Mr. Counen loved God, his family and friends, his dogs and cats, his country, nature, books, music, and U of M football. He was an avid gardener, an accomplished bridge player, and traveled the world on business and in retirement.

Mr. Counen is survived by his beloved wife of 59 years, Marilyn Joanne Urban; his daughter, Pamela and son-in-law, Frederic of Marietta, Ga.; son, Lawrence and daughter-in-law, Tory of Carmel, Ind.; daughter, Margaret and son-in-law, Stephen of Wicomico Church, Va.; grandchildren, Katie, Michael, John, Jennifer, Ethan, and Rebecca; and sisters, Irene Signor, Katherine Silverman and Rosemary Hartmann of New Jersey and Connecticut.

A memorial service was held May 9 at Church of the Palms in Sarasota, Fla.

Donations may be made to Church of the Palms, 3224 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota, FL 34239 or to Golden Retriever Rescue of Mid-Florida, P.O. Box 1449, Goldenrod, FL 32733.

Christine Pruitt

Christine Pruitt

Died: Monday, May 02, 2011
Age: 69
Former longtime Grosse Pointe Woods resident Christine Pruitt, 69, died Monday, May 2, 2011, at St. John Hospital and Medical Center in Detroit.

She was born Sept. 23, 1941, in Glasgow, Scotland, to John and Christina Malloch and moved to Detroit in 1952.

Mrs. Pruitt was a longtime employee of Comerica Bank who enjoyed knitting, line dancing, water aerobics and walking.

Mrs. Pruitt is survived by her beloved husband, Norman; loving children, Carolyn (Kevin) Wilson, Samuel Pruitt, Christine Alfaras and John Kurtice; sisters, Elizabeth Vorgitch, Janice Schafer and Nancy Thomson and her brother, Ian Malloch. She also is survived by many grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

A funeral service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 7, at Kaul Funeral Home, 28433 Jefferson Ave., St. Clair Shores. Visitation begins at 1 p.m..

Donations may be made to the American Cancer Society, 20450 Civic Center Drive, Southfield, MI 48076 or at cancer.org.
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