Beaverton Historical Society
Gladwin County Obituary/Death Notice
Katherine Funck

   Katherine Estelle Funck, 94, passed away peacefully at home on Feb. 4, 2005 with her children and Ruth and Ed Funck at her bedside. She and her husband, Bob Funck, were residents of Grayling for many years.

   Katie was the ninth of 12 children born to John and Catherine (Kathrina Leutzinger) Briggs. Her childhood home on the west side of the Leota dam in the Muskegon river near Leota, Summerfield Township, Clare County was bordered on three sides by cedar swamp, which many years later gave rise to the title of Volume I of her autobiography covering the first five decades of her life, From Cedar Swamp to Cyberspace: One Woman’s Trek Through the Century of Progress.

   Katie lived an extraordinary life. In 1920, at age ten, she saw her mother go vote in the first election after women ‘s suffrage was enacted. She saw her oldest brother come home from WWI, her youngest brother die in a prison camp in WWII, and her son leave to fight in Viet Nam. She was educated in country schools and attended Mt. Pleasant college where she became a certified public school teacher. She also attended Moody Bible Institute in Detroit. Her first teaching assignment was at the Eagle community in Sheridan Township, Clare County, where in addition to teaching in a oneroom schoolhouse, she also pumped water, carried coal, dusted, swept and kept the fires going.

   The family later lived in Harrison and she first met Robert Funck when he was helping with the rural electrification of the town and took “her” parking space. Romance blossomed and on New Year’s morning 1939 he proposed. They were married at the First Congregational Church in Harrison on Aug. 16, 1941. They built a house at 409 Chestnut Street in Grayling where they lived their whole life, except for the WWII years when Bob was in the service and Katie lived with relatives in Hazel Park and worked at Excello, where she made airplane parts, a true “Rosie the Riveter.” They adopted their daughter, Kitty Lee, in 1947 and rejoiced in the birth of their son, Peter Augustus, in 1948. Bob was the city electrician and Katie was busy keeping house, baking (her specialty) and raising the children.

   In 1957, she resumed her teaching career in the Crawford-AuSable school district. In college, she majored in English and minored in Latin. Her first class assignment was kindergarten. But, as she always had, she changed gears and became an excellent elementary school teacher, educating several generations of Grayling folks. She went to summer school at Central Michigan University every summer and eventually received her Bachelor’s Degree in education. She retired from the Crawford-AuSable School system in 1975.

   Katie loved literature and committed many poems to memory. In 1983, her son Peter taught her how to use the computer, and her life thereafter allowed several wonderful (and sometimes frustrating) hours of computer time every day. Eventually this grew into a Weekly Wind Down (the WWD) from “Ant Kt” which she composed and sent to friends and relatives around the world. At last count, she had over 60 e-mail addresses on her mailing list. Katie published several small books of original poetry, and was an annual guest at the middle school for poetry appreciation week and was the reader for the spring spelling bees. She always attended the retired teachers’ dinner in June. She also attended her Harrison alumni gathering every year and was the last remaining member of her graduating class.

   Over the years, she developed an ongoing correspondence with editors and columnists at the Detroit Free Press, a relationship she highly prized, and frequently contributed articles and feedback on contemporary issues. (She also, from time to time, shot off a succinct e-mail to the copy editor with corrections in grammar, usage and agreement.)

   Both Katie and Bob were very active in the Michelson Memorial Methodist church life through the years. They both held various positions within the church and for all their years supported the church. In the fifties, she and Jo McEvers started a church girls’ group called the Light Brigade and for several years taught girls Robert’s Rules of Order and initiated activities and projects, like new choir robes for the childrens’ choir, by the girls to benefit the church. She was an active member of the United Methodist Women and the Mary Martha Circle.

   Katie was a woman of high moral principle and great Christian faith. She believed that as an educator she was held to a higher standard of comportment and that is how she lived her life. She was an avid reader and also loved to bake. Many relatives have afghans made by her loving hands. She also loved to bird watch and garden. The first day of Lent, she always gave over space in the computer room to trays of tiny tomato plants and other vegetables and flowers. She died as she lived, with strength, devotion and faith in her Heavenly Father.

   She is survived by her brother, Roger (Reva) Briggs of Beaverton; her children, Peter Funck and Kitty Lorensen, both of Grayling; her only grandchild, Matthew Lorensen, and scores of nieces and nephews of several generations.

   The funeral was held at Michelson Memorial United Methodist Church on Feb. 8 with Sorenson-Lockwood Funeral Home handling the arrangements. The family requests that contributions be made to the Crawford County Library, Michelson Church or Hospice in lieu of flowers.

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Gladwin County Record, Gladwin, MI
P:A2 C:?
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September 2009
Bob Frei
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