Corinne Townsend

March 19, 1925 ~ February 22, 2019 (age 93)

Corinne Calkins Townsend was born to Helen and Paul Sylvester Calkins on March 19, 1925. She grew up in Detroit, graduating from Redford High School. At Albion College she made lifelong friends at the Zeta Tau Alpha Sorority before transferring to the University of Michigan. There she earned a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and Mathematics; she also met and married returning war veteran and love of her life, Jim Townsend, “the man with the super smile”. Susan and Steven were born in Ann Arbor on the GI bill. 

After Jim finished law school the family moved to Holland, MI, where Corinne spent the next many years raising Susan, Steven, Margaret, and Mary. As her children grew more independent she gradually transitioned to a life of service outside of the home.  At the First United Methodist Church of Holland she was active on the Mission Committee and Hunger Task Force, and taught 2-year-old Sunday School so as to be able to welcome young families into the church. In the Women Society of Christian Service (later known as United Methodist Women) she was able to work to change the world in ways as prosaic as running the church dishwasher through countless Tulip Time meals and working bazaars, as well as serving as president of the district UMW. Corinne participated in establishing migrant ministries in southwest Michigan, and volunteered at the Good Samaritan Center in Holland, providing rides and even cleaning houses for folks needing a hand. The housecleaning did not come naturally to Corinne; the helping hand did!    Corinne, who grew up during the Great Depression, wasn't much for spending money, but she sure knew how to use it to make the world a better place.

Beyond family and service, Corinne loved her garden, as did all passersby. She continued to enjoy swimming in lakes large and small, also any opportunities of hiking or rowing or canoeing, hunting turtles, even horseback-riding on vacation (which was the only occasion for which she wore pants).

As Corinne and Jim retired they travelled more, visiting their scattered children and grandchildren, and enjoying Elder Hostels. In 2005 they moved to Clark Retirement Community in Grand Rapids. They continued enjoying friends there while accruing and enjoying great-grandchildren. While Clark did the cooking Corinne seized the opportunity to read 2-3 large-print novels per week, frequently whodunnits. Jim and Corinne initially joined Trinity United Methodist Church but as weather and age dictated transitioned to the Clark in-house Chapel services. Corinne lost her beloved Jim in 2014. She continued to be well cared-for by Clark staff, while Yadhu Dhakal provided reliable assistance and friendship

Corinne combined a definite commitment to service with consistent cheerfulness and an often-hidden sense of humor. To each inquiry after her wellbeing, she would reply “Don't you know I'm always fine?”

Corinne passed peacefully into the next Life on February 22nd. She will be missed by her sister Bernice (Jack) Burns, brothers Pete Calkins and Tom (Susan) Calkins; children Susan (Jon) Stahl, Steve (Peggy) Townsend, Margaret (Jeff) Fountain, and  Mary Koenen; six grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.

Corinne will be buried in Petoskey on Thursday February 28. A Memorial Service with reception will be held at Clark Retirement Community, 1551 Franklin St SE, Grand Rapids,  on Saturday, May 4 at 1:30pm. Those wishing to make a memorial contribution may give to the United Methodist Committee on Relief , or to the Clark Retirement Community Benevolent Care Fund.

Donations may be made to:

Clark Retirement Community Benevolent Fund
1551 Franklin St. SE, Grand Rapids MI 49506
Tel: 1-616-452-1568

UMCOR United Methodist Committee on Relief
458 Ponce De Leon Ave. NE, Atlanta GA 30308
Tel: 1-800-554-8583

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