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Obituaries


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Angela Virginia Popovic

Died: Monday, February 11, 2008
Age: 78
Grosse Pointe Woods resident Angela Virginia Popovic, 78, died Monday, Feb. 11, 2008.

She was born April 18, 1929 in Detroit to Jack and Maria DiGaetano and attended Girls Catholic Central High School.

Mrs. Popovic was a wife, mother and homemaker.

She is survived by her husband, Milan; daughter Donna M. (Barry) Bussiere; sons Michael M. and Daniel J. (Roberta); grandchildren Lia, David, Matthew and Alex; and her sister, Catherine Palazzola.

She was predeceased by her parents.

Visitation will be held from 3 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 14 and from 2 to 9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15 at A. H. Peters Funeral Home, 20705 Mack Ave., Grosse Pointe Woods.

A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 16, at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church, 21620 Greater Mack, St. Clair Shores, with interment following at Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Detroit.

Memorial contributions may be made to the charity of the donor’s choice.

James R. B. Smith

Died: Sunday, February 10, 2008
Age: 87
Grosse Pointe Woods resident James R. B. Smith, 87, died Sunday, Feb. 10, 2008.

Mr. Smith was born in Detroit to John and Margaret Smith. He graduated from Eastern High School in 1938 and worked as an engineer at Ford Motor Co. in Dearborn.

He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II as a water tender 3rd Class.

Mr. Smith was a member of the American Society of Body Engineers.

He had a wide variety of interests including golf, fishing, boating, reading and music.

He is survived by his wife, Doris V. Smith; daughters Diane Gluszewski and Susan Lockhart; son Jim Smith; seven grandchildren and two great-granddaughters.

Mr. Smith was predeceased by his son, David, and his brother, Jack.

A funeral service was held Feb. 13 at First English Evangelical Lutheran Church, Grosse Pointe Woods.

Memorial donations may be made to the First English Building Fund, 800 Vernier, Grosse Pointe Woods, MI 48236.

Thelma Nelsen

Thelma Nelsen

Died: Thursday, February 07, 2008
Age: 91
Thelma Nelsen, 91, died Thursday, Feb. 7, 2008, at St. Joseph Hospital in Ann Arbor. She was a resident of the City of Grosse Pointe. 

Mrs. Nelsen was born April 2, 1906 in Detroit to Thomas and Tilly Burkenio.

She was a member of the Grosse Pointe Senior Ladies Club and 48 year volunteer at St. John Hospital and Medical Center in Detroit.

Mrs. Nelsen was an avid golfer. She was a life member of Gowanie Golf Club in Harrison Township. She also enjoyed playing cards and was a Detroit Pistons and Detroit Tigers fan.

She is survived by her daughter, Judith (Jerry) Bell; grandchildren Deborah (Fred) Pearson, Susan Bell and Kelly Backer; and five great-grandchildren.

She was predeceased by her husband, Clifton; and her son, Thomas.

A funeral Mass was celebrated Feb. 12 at St. Paul on the Lake Catholic Church, Grosse Pointe Farms.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Capuchins, 1820 Mt. Elliott St., Detroit, MI 48207.

Share a memory at Verheyden.org.

John Edwin Bodkin

John Edwin Bodkin

Died: Thursday, February 07, 2008
Age: 84
Former Grosse Pointe Park resident John Edwin Bodkin, 84, died Thursday, Feb. 7, 2008.

He was born Sept. 3, 1924 in Detroit to Edwin and Florence (Peterson) Bodkin.

Mr. Bodkin’s involvement with the Detroit Yacht Club began at an early age spending summers aboard his father’s yacht, “Vagabond.” These formative years established a love of the water that was a central theme throughout his life.

He graduated from the University of Michigan’s Naval Architecture Program—a background that served him well throughout his life as a prolific builder and designer.

In the waning years of World War II, Mr. Bodkin served in the U.S. Navy as a naval architect and designer.

Among the projects he worked on was a program to improve destroyer performance by harnessing four engines in two banks called “pancaking.”

After the war he continued in the marine trades designing, among other things, a new propeller for the Boblo boat “Columbia” for better fuel efficiency and power.

In the post war years, he founded the John E. Bodkin Yacht Brokerage. This began with the restoration of the Indian Village property that housed his offices and became his home during the 1950s and early 1960s.

Over the next 30 years, the business grew to become the largest yacht brokerage in the Great Lakes Region and one of the most renowned in the nation.

Thousands of boats were sold by the firm ranging in size from the 19-foot Lightning class that he helped to establish in the Detroit area to the sale of some of the largest yachts in the world.

He was especially proud of being the first broker to display a sailboat with its mast up at the Detroit Boat Show.

Mr. Bodkin was a well-respected sailor, having competed in many Mackinac races, Southern Ocean Racing Circuits, and Bermuda Races throughout the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s.

He crewed on many boats of renown such as “Dorade,” “Escapade” and the New York 32’s “Apache” and “Falcon.”

As a long term member of Bayview Yacht Club and Detroit Yacht Club, he also owned several boats of his own. Most notable of these was the historic yacht “Helene,” which, as a yacht broker he brought back from coastal defense duty after WWII and still graces the waterways of the Detroit area.

During the 1970s he changed vocations and home towns, founding a printing company that serviced the automotive industry for 20 years.

Mr. Bodkin retired from the business in 2001 and continued to live in St. Clair for the duration of his life.

During his later years he lived an active life converting an 1872 vintage one-room school house into his home. The final result became a landmark in that community and was often visited by former students, who marveled at the quality of the workmanship and his stewardship of the property.

Mr. Bodkin is survived by his children, John Swegels III, Jeffery Edwin Bodkin, and Kimberly Bodkin Webster; grandchildren, Mathew Swegels, and Lucas, Liam and Lauren Webster; and great-granddaughter, Addison Swegels.

Mr. Bodkin will be remembered in a celebration of his life from 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday, March 8 at the Detroit Yacht Club, 1 Riverbank Rd., Detroit.

Contributions may be made to the Navy–Marine Corps Relief Society, nmcrs.org.

William R. “Ray” Brownell

William R. “Ray” Brownell

Died: Tuesday, February 05, 2008
Age: 96
William R. “Ray” Brownell, 96, died Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2008, at Chelsea Retirement Community in Chelsea. He was born Oct. 29, 1911 in Detroit to William J. and Mary Etta Robb Brownell.

Mr. Brownell graduated from the University of Michigan. On Oct. 29, 1949, he married Florence Hewitt in Grosse Pointe.

He retired from Parke Davis on Nov. 1, 1973, where he was a production manager.

He was a member of the Senior Men’s Club in Grosse Pointe.

In 1992, he and his wife moved to Chelsea.

Mr. Brownell is survived by son James A. (Joan) Brownell of Davenport, Iowa; daughter Virginia (John) Chapman of Austin, Texas; and grandchildren Patrick and Jeffrey Chapman and Cassondra and Suzanne Brownell.

He was predeceased by his wife, Florence, in 1998.

A memorial service was held Feb. 11 at Chelsea Retirement Community with the Rev. Beth Foster officiating. Mr. Brownell’s ashes will be placed in the mausoleum at Woodlawn Cemetery, Detroit.

Memorial contributions may be made to Chelsea Retirement Community, 805 W. Middle St., Chelsea, MI 48118.

John T. Brosnan Sr.

John T. Brosnan Sr.

Died: Monday, February 04, 2008
Age: 77
Grosse Pointe Park resident John T. Brosnan Sr., 77, died Monday, Feb. 4, 2008.

He was born Jan. 5, 1931 in Detroit to Jeremiah and Anna Brosnan and graduated in 1948 from St. Rose High School in Detroit.

Mr. Brosnan was signed by the Cleveland Indians baseball farm system in July, 1951, but was drafted by the U.S. Army in Oct., 1951, during the Korean War.

After serving for two years, he returned to the Cleveland Indians for two years.

He was a Grosse Pointe Park policeman for five years and then a tavern owner for 45 years at various locations on East Jefferson — the last in Grosse Pointe Park at Maryland.

Mr. Brosnan was a member of the Grosse Pointe Park Foundation and Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 102.

He had a great interest in baseball and football.

He is survived by his wife, Margaret; daughter Mary Lynn Hammer; sons John Jr. (Rose) and Gerard (Anne); grandchildren John, Michael (Becky), Daniel, James, Paul, Elise, Anna and Stephen; and great-grandchildren, Haley and Shane.

He also is survived by his brother, Terrence (Alice).

Mr. Brosnan was predeceased by his son, Stephen; his parents; and his brother, Jeremiah.

A funeral Mass was celebrated Feb. 8 at St. Clare of Montefalco Catholic Church, Grosse Pointe Farms with interment at Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Detroit.

Memorial contributions may be made to the charity of the donor’s choice.

Mary Decker Flintermann

Died: Monday, February 04, 2008
Age: 92
Mary Decker Flintermann, a lifelong resident of Detroit and Grosse Pointe, died peacefully in the early morning hours of Monday, Feb. 4, 2008. She was 92.

Mrs. Flintermann was born Mary Ann Decker in Bay City on Aug. 26, 1915. She was married to Donald Flintermann for 45 years until his death in Oct. 1988.

Mrs. Flintermann is survived by children Charlotte Fink of Santa Barbara, Calif., Barbara Alter of Phoenix, Ariz., Mary Smart of Bloomfield Hills and Rockey Flintermann of Winnetka, Ill.; and seven grandchildren.

She was predeceased by her husband, Donald; and her oldest son, Andrew, who passed away in 1989.

Mrs. Flintermann was a member of many local community organizations and charities.

A private family ceremony will be held at the Grosse Pointe Unitarian Church in the City of Grosse Pointe.

Arrangements were handled by Hamilton Funeral and Cremation Society of Grosse Pointe.

William B. Fitzgerald Jr.

William B. Fitzgerald Jr.

Died: Sunday, February 03, 2008
Age: 65
Grosse Pointe Farms resident William B. Fitzgerald Jr., 65, died Sunday, Feb. 3, 2008, from colon cancer.

Throughout the 1970s, Mr. Fitzgerald was one of the most visible figures in Michigan politics. He was the Democratic Party candidate for the office of governor in 1978.

Born June 12, 1942 on Detroit’s east side, Fitzgerald attended Austin Catholic High School in Detroit and Western Michigan University, where he played on the basketball team.

Upon graduation, he became a teacher and basketball coach at Detroit’s St. Martin High School while also attending Detroit College of Law at night.

As head coach at St. Martin’s, Mr. Fitzgerald transformed a team with a no-win season into runner-up in the state division championship game.

After graduating from Detroit College of Law, he practiced law until his father, State Representative William B. Fitzgerald Sr., suffered a fatal heart attack in 1970.

Mr. Fitzgerald was elected to his father’s vacant house seat in November, 1970. He was elected to the State Senate four years later and immediately selected as Senate leader.

He was, and remains, both the youngest Senate majority leader in state history, and the only Senate majority leader to have been selected for this top Senate post while still a member of the State House of Representatives — before he was officially sworn in as a senator.

His two-year term as Senate majority leader was exciting by any standard, as “Billy Fitz” persuaded members of the Senate Democratic caucus to advance controversial “post-Watergate” legislative reforms.

This legislation imposed new standards that included disclosure of outside income by public officials, the state’s first statutory code of ethics and public disclosure of campaign expenses.

He also helped engineer the creation of the state’s first “rainy day fund,” developed to allow the state to save money in good years and avoid tax increases during downturns in the economy.

Another achievement of this session was the legislation creating the state’s model land trust fund. Under the Kammer Fund, private land has been purchased by the state and transformed into public land for recreational use.

As early as mid-1975, Democratic committees began forming across Michigan to make Mr. Fitzgerald his party’s nominee to unseat two-term incumbent Gov. William Milliken. The 33-year-old Detroiter began to build his campaign.

His message emphasized proactive economic development, increased status for Michigan workers, strengthened political reforms, and tough environmental standards in light of the chemical contamination of the state’s beef supply.

In the weeks before the November 1977 election, the popular Milliken pulled out of a statistical dead-heat with Mr. Fitzgerald to win a third term.

In 1982, after his second bid for a statewide office fell short, Mr. Fitzgerald focused his efforts on his law practice.

In the past two decades, he had built a substantial health care benefit consulting and health care administration business with clients located across the state.

In 1986, Mr. Fitzgerald married Margaret O’Neill in a ceremony at St. Paul on the Lake Catholic Church, Grosse Pointe Farms, where he was a longtime member. Their sons, William and John, are on the dean’s lists at Western Michigan University and Michigan State University respectively, and daughter Meghan is a freshman honor student at Grosse Pointe South High School.

Mr. Fitzgerald was a distinguished alumni award recipient from WMU and a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon WMU chapter. He was a member of the American Bar Association, State Bar of Michigan, and Delta Theta Phi co-educational law fraternity.

He also was a member of the Detroit Athletic Club and the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club.

Mr. Fitzgerald is survived by his wife, Margaret; children William, John and Meghan; mother Eleanor J. Fitzgerald; brother Timothy (Karen); nephews Timothy and Michael; parents-in-law Edward and Rita O’Neill; sisters-in-law Kathleen O’Neill, Mary Ellen (James) Cassady, Barbara (Clair) Hoehn, and Maureen (Timothy) Kapala; and brother-in-law Timothy (Diane) O’Neill.

He was predeceased by his father, William B. Fitzgerald.

A funeral Mass was celebrated Feb. 7 at St. Paul on the Lake Catholic Church, Grosse Pointe Farms.

Memorial donations may be made to the Lance Armstrong Foundation, P.O. Box 161150, Austin, TX 788716-1150 or at livestrong.org.

Brandon E. J. Hacias

Brandon E. J. Hacias

Died: Saturday, February 02, 2008
Age: 30
Former City of Grosse Pointe resident Brandon E. J. Hacias, 30, died suddenly Saturday, Feb. 2, 2008, at his home in Acworth, Georgia.

He was born March 21, 1977 in Pontiac. He lived and was raised in St. Clair Shores and Grosse Pointe.

Mr. Hacias attended St. Joan of Arc Catholic School in St. Clair Shores and Notre Dame High School in Harper Woods, where he was an avid athlete. He graduated from Grosse Pointe North High School in 1995.

He received a Bachelor’s of Science degree from Northwood University in Midland, where he was a member of Alpha Chi Rho fraternity.

Mr. Hacias was a finance and sales manager at automobile dealerships in Georgia over the past six years, where he lived with his former wife, Missi L. Landers. His career goal was to be the owner of his own automotive dealership. 

He had many passions, family being the most important, with friends just a step behind.

His family remembers him as a caring, loving, respectful and compassionate son who brought joy and laughter no matter where he was or whom he was with. He could light any room and turn it into laughter. That was his legacy.

His other passion was sports, mainly football. He enjoyed music, travel, and his fitness regimen.

Mr. Hacias is survived by his mother, Mickey Dinverno of St Clair Shores; father Greg Hacias of Grosse Pointe; brothers Mark M. DiMaso, and Kyle, Zachary and Derrick Hacias; grandmothers Stella M. Dinverno and Jean B Hacias; and many loving cousins, aunts and uncles.

He was predeceased by his grandfathers Guido J. Dinverno and Edmund J. Hacias.

A funeral Mass was celebrated Feb. 9 at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church with entombment at Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Dertroit.

Memorial donations may be made to St. Joan of Arc Youth Substance Abuse Program, 22412 Overlake, St. Clair Shores, MI 48080.

Mildred Elizabeth Davis

Mildred Elizabeth Davis

Died: Friday, February 01, 2008
Age: 91
Former Grosse Pointe Shores resident Mildred Elizabeth Davis, 91, died at her home in Petoskey Feb. 1, 2008.

Mrs. Davis was born Dec. 7, 1916 in Chicago, Ill., to Edward and Emma Wilke Schiele and was raised in that city.

In 1941 she married Kenneth Edward Davis in Chicago.

Mrs. Davis was an avid bridge player and also delighted at winning change from friends and family at poker.

Golf was also a favorite pastime and she enjoyed playing at the St. Clair Golf and Country Club where she was a member.

She volunteered at the Colony Town Club/Cancer Loan Closet Foundation of Greater Detroit since 1987, and was its past president until her health started to fail.

She also volunteered at the Bon Secours Nursing Care Center in St. Clair Shores.

Mrs. Davis’ greatest achievement however, was her family.

She is survived by two sons Kenneth (Gail) Davis of Wheaton, Ill., and Jeff (Irene) Davis of Petoskey; and daughter-in-law, Laney Davis Curll of Lancaster, Mass.

She also is survived by 11 grandchildren who were her greatest joy in life: Laurie Leskovitz, Brian Jr., Scot, Elizabeth, Brittany, Kenny, Lauren Barbin, Stephanie, Elise, Christine and Michelle.

She also is survived by her beloved great grandchildren, Forrest, Millie, Brooke and Haven.

Mrs. Davis was predeceased by her husband, Kenneth; her son, Brian; her parents; brother Alvin; and sister Dorothea.

A memorial service will be held in Chicago in the spring.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Colony Town Club/Cancer Loan Closet Foundation, 23326 Edsel Ford Ct., St. Clair Shores, MI 48080.
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