Friday, November 13, 2015
3:00 PM to 9:00 PM EST
Turowski Life Story Funeral Homes
Livonia, West of Middlebelt
30200 Five Mile Rd.
Livonia, MI 48154
Rosary 7:00 PM
Saturday, November 14, 2015
11:00 AM EST
St Genevieve - St Maurice Parish
29015 Jamison (East of MiddleBelt
Livonia, MI 48154
In State at 10:15 AM until Mass begins
Life Story / Obituary
When reflecting on the life of Geraldine Skotzke, it is easy to see that there was no greater gift in her life than her precious loved ones. She savored each and every moment they were together as a family, and she was a firm believer in the idea that grandchildren are for spoiling. A resourceful and hardworking woman who was always willing to learn new things, Gerry faced whatever trial came her way with both grace and courage. She lived life to the fullest each day, taking nothing for granted. Gracious, kindhearted, and generous beyond compare, Gerry leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that her loved ones will hold forever near and dear to their hearts.
The 1930s were very much defined by the Great Depression that covered our nation and much of the world throughout the entire decade. Jobs were scarce, the unemployment rate soared, and countless American families found themselves without a home. Despite the circumstances around them, a young couple from Detroit, Michigan, was pleased to announce the birth of the baby girl they named Geraldine on August 2, 1937. She was raised in the family home located in the shadow of Tiger Stadium in Detroit and was an only child for nine years until her parents gave her five siblings. What used to be a very quiet and calm household turned into a bustle of activity in a flash with the arrival of her siblings including her brothers, Ted and Tom, and her sisters, Roseann, Loraine, and Celine. Since her family did not own a car, much of Gerry’s world was within walking or bussing distance of her home.
In many ways, Gerry experienced a typical upbringing. Her father, Theodore, worked in a local automotive factory while her mother, Stella, worked in a potato chip factory and later at a meat packing plant. Gerry was a bright student who was double-promoted twice in school. For this reason, she was only 16 when she graduated from high school. Because their family had limited financial means, college wasn’t an option for Gerry. Instead, she went to work for Rose Jewelers right out of high school.
Not long after, Gerry went down a different career path when she starting working at a Detroit hospital in a clerical position. Not to be forgotten during this time was her introduction to the young man of her dreams. His name was James Skotzke, and they met at a wedding reception that he had crashed. Sparks flew right from the start, and they began dating. Their relationship continued to deepen despite Jim’s absence while serving in Germany on a three-year tour of duty with the United States Army. The sweethearts corresponded through letters during this time. Upon his return, he took a job with Mobil Oil, bought a car, and proposed to Gerry. Eager to build a new life together, Gerry and Jim were married in 1960.
The newlyweds initially lived in an apartment, but they soon bought a house on a street called Littlefield on the West side of Detroit. They remained there until the Detroit Riots of 1967. Although the violence wasn’t nearby, it was close enough that it prompted Jim to move his family to a home on Lyons Street in suburban Livonia. Together Gerry and Jim raised three children, Chris, Karen, and Barbara. In the Skotzke family, vacations were special events although they didn't happen every year. Among their favorites destinations were Niagara Falls, a shared multi-family cottage in the thumb area, "Uncle Herbs" farm, and her brother in law Dick's home in Ohio.
In her free time, Gerry was one to keep busy. She was very creative as she loved completing jigsaw puzzles and doing arts and crafts. For a number of years, Gerry kept houseplants, primarily cactus plants, and she grew both flowers and vegetables outside. In fact, her vegetable garden was always overflowing with green peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, rhubarb, and occasionally carrots. Gerry’s large formal dinners were certainly an event every Sunday, and among her specialties were spaghetti, pot roast, chop suey, chili, fried chicken, and stuffed cabbage. She also made a potato salad that was the envy of everyone who tasted it. Gerry wasn’t a sports fanatic, but she did enjoy watching the Tigers play baseball. She volunteered at her church’s school office twice a week for about 30 years and also sang beautifully from her church pew on Sundays.
Life was forever changed for Gerry when Jim died when he was only 55, which left her a widow at just 53. Since Jim had taken care of most of their financial matters, Gerry had to take on these responsibilities having had absolutely no experience with them prior. She was a quick and natural learner, however, and she learned how to pay bills, balance a checkbook, and change a lightbulb as Jim had taken care of things around the house, too. Gerry also learned to cut her own lawn and shovel her own snow, which she did until her health no longer allowed. It was always so amazing so see how quickly and how thoroughly she adapted.
Gerry was over the moon excited when she became a grandmother to Erin in 1992, Amy in 1994, and Adam in 1997. She spent every moment with her grandchildren that she could, often staying with her daughter-in-law, Julie, to help when her son, Chris, needed to travel on business. Affectionately referred to as “Santa-Grandma," she took joy in each Christmas season as it was a time when spoiling her grandchildren was allowed. Gerry showered them with far too many gifts that got more personable, generous, and special as her grandchildren aged. Because she wanted to be sure that her grandchildren were given opportunities that she wasn’t, she also made significant contributions to their college funds so they would never have to be faced with taking out student loans to get an education.
All who knew Geraldine Skotzke would agree that she was truly beautiful on the inside and out. She was never one to let life get her down, and she could find the joy in each new day. Gerry was gracious yet funny with a quick wit at times, often asking, “Who died and made you boss?” It was easy to see that her family was like a priceless treasure to her, and she would do whatever she could for her friends and loved ones. Life will never be the same without Gerry here, but the lives of everyone she met will be forever changed because of her touch.
Geraldine Skotzke died on November 10, 2015. Gerry’s family includes her children, Chris (Julie), Karen (Mark) Macary, and Barbara (Jeff) Vaden; grandchildren, Erin, Amy, and Adam; siblings, Theodore, Loraine, and Thomas. Geraldine was preceded in death by her husband, James. Visitation will be held on Friday from 3-9 p.m. with Rosary 7:00 p.m. at Neely-Turowski Funeral Home 30200 Five Mile (Between Middlebelt and Merriman). In State Saturday, 10:15 a.m. until Mass begins at 11:00 a.m. St. Genevieve – St Maurice Catholic Church, 29015 Jamison (East of MiddleBelt). Interment Holy Sepulchre Cemetery. To share a favorite memory and/or photo of Geraldine and to sign the online guestbook, please visit www.turowskilifestory.com