Hilda Ann (Kerr) Pickell, of Jackson, formerly of Somerset, passed on at the age of 98 on March 1, 2013, under the care of Arbor Woods Assisted Living and Allegiance Hospice.
She was born on the family farm of her parents, Ferne (Rhoades) and Howard Kerr, in Liberty Township on October 15, 1914.
She was preceded in death by her husband W.H. Pickell; an infant son; parents; sister and brother-in-law, Ruth (Kerr) and Harley Gillette; brother, Rhoades DeWitt (R.D.) Kerr; brother, Winthrop Howard (Dub) Kerr.
As her grandfather, Lorenzo Rhoades, and mother before her, she attended Crouch, the one-room school in Liberty Township. After finishing the eighth grade, she knew she would not be content if she didn't continue her education. By working for her room and board, she was able to attend and graduate from Jackson High School, class of 1932, an accomplishment of which she was always proud.
Her love of education and children set her on a path that would direct her whole life. After graduating from Jackson High School and Jackson County Normal, she set forth on her first teaching job at the age of nineteen at a one-room school in Hillsdale County. Here she lived with various families, walked sometimes over two miles to school, fired up the stove and began each day with the Pledge of Allegiance. She would continue to work at various schools including those in Hillsdale County, Ladd and Clarks Lake also in Columbia Township.
W.H. Pickell and Hilda were married in 1934. W.H. and Hilda were members of the "The Greatest Generation." Both grew up on small family farms in the 1920s, survived the hardships and deprivations of the Great Depressions of the 1930s. W. H., as most of his generation, proudly served in the United States Army during World War II from 1941 to 1945.
In times when families helped families, Hilda along with her two young children lived with her sister and brother-in-law, Ruth and Harley Gillette, while W.H. was in the service.
After the War in April of 1945, Hilda and W.H. and their two children moved to Somerset A third child would complete the family. Hilda stayed home and found much satisfaction in the raising of her children. She often said that these child-rearing years were her best years. As grandchildren graced her life, she once again enjoyed the happy sounds, squeals, tears and laughter of young children.
After all her children were in school, Hilda returned to teach at Crouch School, the one-room school which she attended as a child. During this time period when she was teaching and raising a family, she completed her Bachelor's Degree taking one class at a time, a long arduous task. Finishing her career at Hanover Horton School, she spent forty years doing what she loved. She would often hear from former students and their resounding response was "she was simply the best teacher I ever had."
After W.H.'s untimely death in 1971 her three children and grandchildren became first in her life. Grandchildren loved Gramma Hilda and took great delight in spending time with her. Life for her was always about family. She could be critical when necessary, but her love always showed through. She attended events of all her grandchildren. Her grandchildren, however, best remember the times they spent with Gramma at her home in Somerset.
She liked nothing better than prepare a scrumptious meal for family members for holidays, birthdays, or just for a Sunday dinner. Getting together in the Somerset home next to the Church were highlights of the entire family. There was an unspeakable sadness when she was not able to continue living there.
After W.H.'s death Hilda took on the responsibility of watering flowers on his grave. Then she started watering other family members and friends and soon it seemed she was watering everyone's flowers. You did not want to call her on a late Sunday afternoon because she would be in the cemetery watering the flowers. She did this simple act of kindness for over 20 years.
Her last years were not kind. She fought a brave fight with macular degeneration, which took her eyesight eighteen years ago. Slowly she was not the Hilda we all loved. She was with us in body, but not soul.
She is survived by her three children: Burnell (Dottie) Pickell of Jerome; Ruthann (Wayne) Geiss of Napoleon; Barton (Pat) Pickell of Liberty, grandchildren: Bruce (Tracy) Pickell of Eaton Rapids; Kara (Guy) Procopio of Leslie; Amy (Matt) Kandell of Virginia Beach, VA; Kristie (Aaron) Sexton of Addison; Brett (Kellie) Pickell of San Carlos, CA great-grandchildren: Amanda Gilbert of Jackson; Megan (Rick) Miller of Savannah, GA, Kaitlyn Pickell of Lansing; Micaela, Guy, and Isabella Procopio of Leslie; Trent and Sophia Sexton of Addison; Brooks W.H. Pickell of San Carolos, great-great-grandchild: Adyson Miller of Savannah, GA.
Also survived by numerous nieces and nephews.
She was a member of the Somerset Congregational Church, Jackson Women's Club, National and Michigan Education Association, Eastern Star.
Thanks to Troy Ganton of Arbor Woods and his staff for Hilda's care the past 13 years. You were the greatest and your kindnesses will always be remembered.
Memorial Services will be held at 11:00 A.M. Thursday, March 7, 2013, at the Somerset Congregational Church 10449 Somerset Rd., Somerset, MI 49281 with Pastor Lucas Miller officiating. A luncheon will be served immediately following the service for a time of sharing and remembrance with the family. Private interment will be made in Somerset Cemetery.
No flowers, please. Contributions may be made to the Somerset Congregational Church or to a charity of the donor's choice. Arrangements were entrusted to Brown-Van Hemert Funeral Home in Addison.
Read Hilda Ann (Kerr) Pickell's Obituary and Guestbook on brownvanhemert.com.