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Ellin Bowlby Svoboda passed away peacefully in her sleep on Saturday, March 3, 2018. Ellin was born on March 14, 1931 in Ovid, Michigan to Jay and Ada (née Muhlbach) Bowlby. She grew up on a dairy farm in Ovid with her siblings, George, Roger, and Charlotte. Ellin attended Ovid High School and Michigan State University, where she graduated in 1952. It was at college that Ellin met her husband and lifelong companion, David Svoboda, who passed away on August 29, 2015. They had celebrated sixty-one wonderful years of marriage together.
Ellin began her career as an elementary school teacher and after a hiatus to raise her sons, earned her Masters Degree in Urban Education. She went on to become a speech and language pathologist and audiologist. Ellin spent both stints of her career with the Grand Rapids Public Schools, where she focused on helping special needs children. As avid Spartan fans, both Ellin and Dave held season football tickets for more than sixty years. They also enjoyed watching March Madness for many years in Sarasota, Florida, where they also attended numerous operas. Music was also a large part of their lives. Ellin and Dave enjoyed hosting a monthly musical evening for a group of friends at their home and Ellin played the piano for her own pleasure. Also fans of the theatre, they attended plays together with dear friends in Niagara-on-the-Lake and the Stratford Festival for many years. Ellin kept up this tradition, visiting Stratford with her life-long friends Ellie Green and Georgia Condon.
Long-time members of East Congregational Church, Ellin and Dave were on multiple boards and volunteered for many activities to help underprivileged people in their community. They also enjoyed travel immensely and were fortunate to have visited many parts of the world, often sharing their adventures with close friends. Ellin was very well-read and had a keen intellect, happy to discuss many subjects and always curious to learn more. She was particularly enamored of history and politics, and was a fan of all iterations of C-SPAN, particularly the program Booknotes. An accomplished cook, Ellin loved to entertain and shared her knowledge with her family.
Ellin is survived by her sons Stuart (Diane) of West Bloomfield, and John (Rhonda) of Grand Rapids. She was a devoted grandmother to Jonah and Tali Svoboda (who dearly loved their “Grandell"), and never stopped being a great mother (and teacher) to her family. Not long before she passed away, she was heard correcting a family member's grammar. Later, she admitted that correct grammar usage may not be the most important thing in the world. It's love, and Ellin Bowlby Svoboda was dearly loved by her family and close friends. She is greatly missed, but lives on in all who knew her and benefited from her tutelage. She was happy to have lived a very long and full life.
A memorial service will be held at East Congregational Church, at a later date, to be announced in the Grand Rapids Press. Any donations in her honor would be gratefully accepted by East Congregational Church or the Grand Rapids Symphony.
East Congregational Church
1005 Giddings Ave SE, Grand Rapids MI 49506
Grand Rapids Symphony
300 Ottawa Ave NW, Grand Rapids MI 49503