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St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
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Life Story / Obituary
To know Stella Colliton was to love her as she was sweet, generous, and compassionate toward everyone she met. The matriarch of her family, she was deeply devoted to her husband and children, and although she cherished her roles as a wife and mother she just may have argued that being a grandmother and great-grandmother was her greatest reward. Lighthearted and gracious people were naturally drawn to Stella, her life an inspiration to all who were near. She was never one to hold a grudge and believed that no matter the issue, there wasn’t anything that couldn't be worked out. Stella leaves behind a timeless legacy that will be proudly carried on by those who follow her.
Nearly a century has passed since the early part of the 1900s when the America we know and love today looked drastically different. There were unsafe working conditions to contend with, and with a lack of child labor laws it was often this younger generation who paid the highest price. Automobiles were a rarity as only the very wealthy could afford them while growing monopolies all across the country became a way of life. Amidst this eventful time was the year 1915 that brought great joy to a young couple from Detroit, Michigan, as they were eagerly anticipating the birth of their new baby. Their wait was over on July 31st when the baby girl they named Stella made her grand entrance in nearby Detroit. She was one of three girls born to her parents, Agnes and Klemens Wicha, and she was raised in the family home alongside her sisters, Josephine and Rita. Stella’s father was an auto worker while her mother was a homemaker who also worked for the local schools.
In many ways Stella experienced an upbringing that was a reflection of the times. She looked forward to visiting her grandmother’s house in Gaylord and going to the little red bridge to collect barrels of water from the Pigeon River. Stella attended St. Alphonsus Catholic School in Dearborn where the nuns allowed her to bring her baby sister, Rita, to school. It was quite a sight to see Stella with a little baby sleeping away on her lap! As a teen she liked taking the trolley downtown to Hudson’s. As a young adult, Stella also worked for Burroughs and Kelvinator. Stella went on to graduate from Fordson High School in Dearborn with the class of 1933.
New and exciting changes were in store for Stella when she met the young man who would forever hold the key to her heart. His name was James “Jimmie” Colliton, and they met on a blind date. It was certainly a night to remember as Stella slapped his face when he tried to kiss her! True love won in the end, and after falling deeply in love they were united in marriage. Together they welcomed four children including Joe, Jim, Jack, and Marianne into their hearts and home. Over the years Stella witnessed her family tree blossom to include 11 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren. After 35 years of marriage she was deeply saddened with the death of her beloved husband.
Throughout her life there was nothing that was more near and dear to Stella’s heart than being with the ones she loved. Her skills in the kitchen were fantastic, and her family loved everything she made. In fact, everyone always wanted to make her dishes for themselves so Stella published a family cookbook comprised of all of her most loved recipes. She looked forward to Jim’s poker tournament every year, and she loved camping and family canoe trips well into her eighties. Of course family gatherings of any kind topped her list whether it was the family pierogi party, a birthday celebration, or a gathering in celebration of a holiday. For more than the past 10 years the family had been gathering to celebrate Stella’s birthday with a summer picnic. It was uncanny how she always seemed to pick the gatherings or parties with the most children and grandchildren present. She loved traveling to California to see Marianne and her grandchildren.
For as long as she was able Stella lived an active lifestyle. She spent 25 years working as a medical assistant for Dr. Shore and Dr. Kopald in Detroit, and she was a longtime member of the Dearborn Thunderbirds. Stella was an amazing card player who taught all of the kids to play, and she also liked to play bingo, go to the horse races, and visit the casino. In addition to traveling to California, Stella loved her cruise to Alaska as well as trips to the Grand Canyon and Yosemite National Park. She swam three days a week until she was well into her eighties, and at home she enjoyed relaxing with a book or watching some of her favorite shows including Wheel of Fortune and The Price is Right.
A woman who was truly beautiful on the inside and out, Stella Colliton was a blessing to those around her. She had a quick wit coupled with a great sense of humor that made her so much fun to be around. Through the way she lived her life Stella led and taught by example, and she never passed up an opportunity to make memories with family and friends. Selfless in every way whether with her time, her resources, or her open heart, Stella was forever giving to others in ways both great and small. She leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that will never be forgotten.
Stella Colliton died on November 20, 2014. Stella’s family includes her children, Joseph (Dianne), James (Janice), Jack (Janice), Marianne (Charles) Ray; 11 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren; and sister, Josephine Rypkowski. Stella was preceded in death by her husband, James; and her sister, Rita Evison. Visitation will be held on Sunday, 4-9 p.m. and Monday 11a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and Funeral Service Monday 12:00 p.m. at the Neely-Turowski Life Story Funeral Home, 30200 Five Mile Road (btn. Middlebelt and Merriman). Interment Cadillac Memorial Gardens West. Memorial contributions may be made to the St. Jude Children’s Hospital. You may sign the guestbook and share a memory or photo at www.TurowskiLifeStory.com.