In Memory of Arlene Grace Thornton

January 9, 1929 - December 22, 2018

Arlene Grace Thornton, age 89, passed away Saturday, December 22, 2018 at her residence in Ojibwa. She was born January 9, 1929 in Rogers City, Michigan, the daughter of Carlos and Fern (Beebe) Cole. She was united in marriage to Roy David Thornton on September 3, 1949 in Detroit, Michigan.

At the age of two, Arlene moved with her family to the Charlevoix/Bayshore area where her family farmed eighty acres. She attended schools in Burgess and Charlevoix where she was involved in Glee Club and enjoyed reading. Along with her siblings, Arlene worked hard on the farm, driving a team of horses, milking cows, digging potatoes and tending vegetable gardens with her mother.

At the age of seventeen, Arlene moved to Detroit to be with her sister Faye. It was there she met the love of her life, Roy and the two were married two months later. In 1950, they bought an acre of land on DeWitt Road in Belleville and began the process of clearing the land to build their family home. Often the family would stay in a tent in summer with no running water or electricity while the house was being constructed. Roy, with the help of Arlene and the children constructed the home themselves until it was able to be moved into in 1967.   Along with the assisting the home construction, Arlene worked in the yard growing and preserving vegetables, making fresh and dried flower arrangements and fixing all the children’s cuts and scratches.

Both she and Roy were devout Christians and faithful members of Bethel Baptist Church, where Arlene taught Sunday school.

After taking a trip in 1973 to see what Wisconsin was like, they found land in Ojibwa and bought 80 acres. In 1989, after forty-two years of service with Ford Motor Company, Roy retired and they moved to Ojibwa where they continued to build a retirement home and lake for the two of them.

Roy passed in March of 2001 and Arlene remained on the property in Ojibwa and took great pride in continuing to care for it. Her love for gardening lasted her entire life and she still took time to can and freeze her year’s harvest. Arlene was a loving and supportive wife, mother and grandmother.

She is survived by her children, Penny Perri of Los Angeles, CA, Roy (Barbara) Thornton Jr. of Dayton, OH, Gail (Jeffrey) Turner of Orville, WA, Valerie (Randy) Marchesi of Junction City, KS and Brian (Patricia) Thornton of Belleville, MI; her grandchildren; great-grandchildren; her brother, Leroy A. Cole; and many nieces, nephews and dear friends.

In addition to her parents, Arlene is preceded in death by her son, Jeffrey Thornton; and her siblings, Robert D. Cole, Harvey J. Cole, Leonard B. Cole, Jacqueline K. Cole, Lavern W. Cole, Faye (Ratliff) Cole, and Patricia “June” Cole.

Last Update: Jan 03, 2019 2:20 pm CST

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