Category Archives: Northville Spotlight

Resident Spotlight: Peggy

If you’re looking for a travel recommendation or a great new recipe, Oakmont Northville resident of more than two years, Peggy, is just the person to see. A former nurse whose passion for traveling has taken her around the world, Peggy’s zest for life and ability to persevere through challenging times has helped make her story one you’ll never forget.

From a Newborn to a Nurse

Peggy, whose real name is Margaret, was born in the heart of the Motor City at Providence Hospital on West Grand Boulevard. The first of many children, her family stayed in the city throughout her childhood, with Peggy eventually attending Visitation Catholic High School.

But life wasn’t always easy for the young family. Peggy’s mother suffered from ongoing medical problems, and her father was in the Navy which meant he spent a lot of time away from home. Soon after his return from service, he left the family, leaving Peggy, the family’s oldest child, to care for her seven siblings – including five brothers – as well as her ailing mother. It was no easy task, but Peggy persevered, eventually entering the Nursing Program at the same hospital in which she was born.

“Well, first of all the tuition was only a dollar a year, or a hundred dollars a year, something so reasonable like that,” she said laughingly while explaining why she wanted to go to nursing school. “Because I was in the caretaking business all the time with my five brothers, it just seemed like a perfect fit.”

And a perfect fit it was. Peggy eventually graduated from school and began working as a nurse at Providence for five different OBGYN offices – a job she would hold for twenty years.

A Husband and a Home in Korea

Though Peggy knew her future husband during her days at Visitation High School, it wasn’t until later that they’d reconnect and get married.

In the meantime, “I was a big dater,” Peggy said with laughter.

The marriage eventually led to children, two girls and two boys, which Peggy describes as the perfect combination. While she worked and raised the kids, her husband rose through the ranks as an executive at Ford Motor Company, eventually leading the iconic company’s Korean division. And it was only after all of her kids had graduated college and started their adult lives that Peggy and her husband would pick up and move to the Peninsula.

The adjustment to life in Korea for Peggy was as easy as could be. “I felt like I was on vacation the whole time we were living there,” Peggy said. “I really liked it a lot.”

The now jet-setting couple didn’t stay put for long. Using their home in Korea as a home base, the pair took trips around Asia including stops in Shanghai, Thailand, and, Peggy’s favorite, Indonesia – especially the island of Bali.

A Return to the United States

Though they were happy together for several years in Korea, Peggy’s husband would eventually ask her for a divorce. Peggy was on a trip to the United States at the time and decided just to stay and rebuild her life around her kids and grandkids, sharing a house with one of her daughters.

“My daughter was also going through a divorce and had two little boys at the time that I helped raise,” she said, smiling. “They’re in their 30s now, but we’re still very close.”

After living with her daughter, Peggy decided it was time to find her own place where she could be social and active. Though she did plenty of shopping around, Oakmont Northville became the obvious choice.

“I decided I needed to live with people,” Peggy said. “And when I came to visit here, the director made me feel so welcome.”

Now more than two years into her life at Northville, Peggy couldn’t be happier. “Everybody has been so kind to me,” she said. “I really like it here.”

Meet Martha

How does a native Wisconsinite, who spent stints in Kentucky and Tennessee, end up in the suburbs of Detroit? The answer: A great work ethic, a loving family, and an adventurous spirit. And that’s exactly what you’ll find when you meet Martha, this month’s resident spotlight at Oakmont Northville.

A Start in the Dairy State

Though she has called Michigan her home since 1950, Martha’s journey didn’t begin in the Mitten. She was born in Wisconsin to loving parents, but the family soon moved to Kentucky and Tennessee where she did much of her growing up. They had family there, and her father was able to get a job during the war working for Eastman Kodak – a job at which his daughter would soon join him.

“We both worked in Oak Ridge, Tennessee during the war for Eastman Kodak,” she said. “We lived there for seven years before moving to Bristol,” another city in the Volunteer State.

Before their move to Tennessee, Martha spent much of her time going to school and church with the man who would eventually become her husband. They both lived near Owensboro, and when he returned from the European Theater where he served as a member of the Army Infantry during the war, they would make the decision to move north to Michigan to make a new life for themselves.

“He just wasn’t happy doing what he was doing at that time,” she said, in reference to her husband’s job in statistics. “He had been to Michigan before he went into the service, and liked it, so we decided to come here.”

A Move to Michigan

After arriving in Michigan and settling into the Detroit area, Martha’s husband worked some odd jobs until finally landing at General Mills as a salesman. The couple soon had six children, and despite the full house, Martha’s work ethic never failed her, becoming a seamstress and eventually working in a bank.

“I worked as a seamstress,” she said. “I did tailoring, too. I tailored all of his suits and all of the children’s coats and everything. Years later I went to work at a bank and became head teller,” Martha said.

Though her husband got sick and their neighborhood turned less-than-safe, that didn’t stop her. She continued working, and eventually moved to the Northville area where she’s been ever since. Her children, now mostly retired, have given her eight lovely grandchildren (the oldest is now 50) that she tries to see as much as possible.

When Martha made the decision that she was ready to move into senior living, she and her daughter visited Northville and knew that’s where she wanted to be. That was two years ago, and her feelings about the community haven’t changed.

“I love it here,” she said. “I’m not much of a joiner, and they leave you to do the things you want to do. I really do love it here.”

Meet Betty


It’s no surprise that when asked what she’d like to talk about in her resident spotlight interview, Betty replied that she’d like to talk about her religion. “I think it’s the most interesting things about me,” she said, smiling, “and I can talk about it, it’s not weird.”

Born in Philadelphia to a loving mother and father and three sisters, Betty was brought up in the Church of Christian Science – an American-born religion that sports about 85,000 members worldwide. Her early memories involve sitting with her mother and reading Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy’s famous book: Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, along with passages from the bible.

“Both my sister and I stammered when we were younger,” she said, “so reading from the bible was good practice for me because there were quite a few tongue twisters in there,” she said, laughing. “And I liked it [Christian Science] until I became an adolescent and started to question things.”

Despite growing up in the depression, moving from apartment to apartment, and dealing with nagging questions about her faith, Betty was an exceptionally happy child – seeing each move as a new adventure. “I was always happy,” she said, speaking of when the Great Depression impacted her family. “I wasn’t aware that suddenly we were poor and had nothing – and you don’t know about depression until you know nothing – we had nothing.”

From Nothing to Everything

Despite hard economic times, Betty wasn’t about to let outside circumstances determine her fate. She enrolled at Wayne State University, eventually earning a Bachelor’s Degree as well as a Master’s Degree in Library Science and a Master’s Degree in Geography. Inspired by her love for learning, she began teaching at Oakland Community College – lecturing about her favorite subjects to many interested students.

It was during this period that she met the man she’d eventually marry – and stay married to for 23 years. He was a fallen-away Catholic, and immersing herself in his religion re-invigorated her quest to finally feel comfortable in her own. It was then that she seriously began to consider leaving the church of her youth and converting.

“I had a perfect life,” she said smiling. “Two children – a boy and a girl. I loved my husband. We had a nice house and we were happy. We had a little doggie and everything.”


Finally a Catholic After 83 Years

After the death of her first husband and divorce from her second (a colleague who was also a Catholic), Betty realized it was now or never to fulfill her dream of converting. Neither of her spouses was particularly fond of their religion, which kept her from officially making the plunge all of those years. “With both husbands gone, I thought, I could do it now,” she said. And after talking to a priest, she officially converted at the age of 83 – and now gets to live a faith that inspires her every day.

“It’s so real,” she said when asked what about Catholicism moves her. “I mean, what lasts 2,000 years? Not much. But the bible – best seller all these years. It’s fascinating. It’s more real. You can talk about it.”

And talk about it she does. Her life has come full circle now, from reading the writings of Mary Baker Eddy with her mother to scripture readings at the Oakmont Northville chapel – the words of faith continue to not only move Betty but pique her intellectual curiosity on a daily basis.

“You know, they often say about converts that they’re more interested, more moved by things because it’s new and it’s splendid,” she said. “I love ritual when it’s beautiful. I love it. I just love it.”

Listen to Betty describe why Catholicism moves her in her own words:

Meet Marilyn

Maybe it had something to do with the fact the first time Marilyn was pregnant, it ended in the full-term death of her baby. Or maybe it was part of another plan, she didn’t know for sure.

Over the span of 20 years, Marilyn and her husband Carl served as foster parents for 11 newborn children.

“I think a lot of it had to do with the loss of the first baby, but I really couldn’t tell you for sure,” she said. “But doing that, it was a wonderful thing. When they left, it was sad and we cried, but we knew we would be getting another one soon. It was a blessing just knowing they were going into good, Christian homes.”

Indeed, faith has always been important to Marilyn. She’s currently active at Ward Church in Northville. Previously, when they were living Up North, Marilyn and her husband (with the help of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church in Brighton) helped plant a new church in Greenbush, not far from their Oscoda-area home.

Many moves along the way

For 10 years, Marilyn and Carl (who originally met while working for General Motors) had a lovely, Up North lakefront home. It was perhaps their first retirement home.

“We were very happy there, but the snow got to be a little much for me,” she said. So they moved to North Carolina. It was while they were in the Tar Heel state they moved a few more times. In all, they moved seven times before Carl needed more acute care at a facility in South Carolina before his death. That’s when she moved back to the Detroit area, where she found her way to Oakmont Northville.

If you’re getting the impression Marilyn learned to be pretty adept at moving, you are correct. After their marriage in Detroit, the couple lived in Farmington Hills (“it was just a house trailer, 8 feet wide and 28 feet long,” she said), then Inkster and then (after Chevrolet transferred Carl to a new job) Utah for a little over three years. After that, Detroit, Novi (twice) and Farmington served as homes for them before they retired to the Oscoda area.

“Yes, we moved a lot,” Marilyn joked. “But we’ve traveled quite a bit, too.” Her and Carl took several trips and cruises, mostly Caribbean cruises and one great Alaska cruise.

So many kids and grandchildren, too

Marilyn has three married children, eight grandchildren and (soon) 12 great grandchildren. She also lives with her faithful pooch, Charlie. “He’s quiet and doesn’t bark, he’s a real sweetheart,” she said.

And of course, the foster babies they took in are still part of her life, too.

“I was just putting pictures on Facebook of some of our memories,” she said, explaining how the second foster baby invited her and Carl to come down to attend her high school graduation. “That was so nice. (Was when they were living in Greenbush up north). We came down for that and I was just posting pictures of that on Facebook today. Memory pictures, if you will.

“I love life, God has been so good to me. I’m really blessed, and I’m blessed with many friends here, too.”

Meet Steve and Nadine

A short time after being sent to Iwo Jima during the height of World War II, a shell landed near Steve’s foxhole. It blew him in the air, tearing nerves in his left arm and peppering his body with shrapnel.

The Oakmont Northville resident, who lives there with his wife Nadine, reflected on his time with the Marines as he showed several pictures from that time and explained how fortunate he was to be alive.

At some point, he was moved from the battlefield to a hospital. Along the way, he experienced many sights and sounds. At one point, he awoke to find a Catholic priest praying over his wounded body.

“I opened my eyes to see Fr. Bradley giving me last rites,” Steve said. “He was making the sign of the cross over me. I wasn’t expecting that. I’m a Protestant, and I’m not used to seeing a priest praying like that. I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh. I’m going to die.’”

A poignant picture and bittersweet memory

Steve showed a picture taken as he arrived at Iwo Jima. It was snapped only minutes before an explosion claimed several other Marines in the photo.

“There were four or five of those guys who had just landed and were killed,” he said. “We landed on the island and started going up, and so many of these guys were dead right after this. We were 20, 21, 22 years old….In fact, when we went into the first hospital, I heard a lot of crying. And I could hear the nurses saying, ‘Oh, those poor, young boys.’ They saw how bad it was.”

“I was lucky to come home. I tell people this and they don’t believe me, and the only ones who believe me are the ones who have been in combat. They know what I was talking about. A lot of people don’t say anything about it. It was tough, seeing all those guys killed.”

The fact he is able to tell that story means things worked out pretty well, although it did have an effect on the rest of his life.

Life before and after the war

Prior to World War II, Steve was a semi-pro basketball player, along with being active in several sports. The injuries at Iwo Jima kept him from competing as an athlete, but he stayed busy in coaching — including guiding his team to an American Legion state championship.

“He went to Southwestern High School in Detroit, and I attended Fordson in Dearborn,” Nadine said. “So we met through a mutual friend. And we’ve been married for 75 years.”

They raised their family in Dearborn as he was employed as a manufacturing engineer with the Ford Motor Company. Eventually, they were able to travel — which included trips to Europe and various places throughout the United States. In one of his travels, for a reunion, he actually came across a familiar face wearing a priest’s collar.

“Fr. Bradley, you gave me my last rites,” he said. “He told me, ‘I gave a lot of young men their last rites.’ What guy ever gets a chance to meet the man who gave him his last rites? Never.

“It was a miracle.”