Sharon Anne McKenzie, age 81 years of Niles, Michigan died peacefully at 6:15 p.m. on Sunday, May 27, 2018 with family gathered at Memorial Hospital in South Bend, Indiana following a brief illness.
She was born in Sturgis, Michigan on April 22, 1937 as the thirteenth child of Nathan and Marian (Troxell) McKenzie, and grew-up on a farm in LaGrange County, Indiana with a big, loving family who watched over her in all ways. She graduated from Brighton High School in 1955, and completed college courses to become certified as a medical lab technician. She was first employed in the clinic of John Bruni, M.D., and then in the lab at the former Pawating Hospital (now Lakeland, Niles), and finally at the South Bend Medical Foundation for the balance of her career, retiring in 2003.
Sharon had polio when she was 3 years old, which affected her physical body, but not her strength and determination. She spent her life overcoming adversity, fighting to meet and exceed her goals and learning new things. She was a smart, strong, and opinionated woman who did not sit around and let lifer happen. She loved to garden, sew, quilt, read, watch birds and visit with friends and family, but she especially loved to care for her little dog, Lupae. She was an avid animal lover, and an advocate of public and educational television, as well as Heifer International, working to end hunger and poverty. She loved the Lord, was a member of Hope Community Church in Niles, and was always working on learning more about Jesus and becoming closer to Him. She knew that she was going to dance and be whole in Heaven.
She moved to Niles in 1963, and was first married to Glenn Kretchman. She later moved to Mishawaka, Indiana and married Bruce Weller. After her retirement in 2003, she built an addition on her daughter’s home in Niles, and became an active and helpful part of life in that household, helping with grandkids, great-grandkids, animals of all kinds, and almost anything that was asked of her.
Sharon is survived by her daughter, Rebecca (& Bob) Byers of Niles, three grandchildren whom she adored and spoiled every day: Lindsay Prenkert, Zachary Prenkert, and Christopher Prenkert. Through Rebecca’s marriage to Bob, Sharon became the step-grandmother to Melissa (& Nick) Gorbach, William (& Aubrey) Byers, Kayla Byers, and Tessa (& Josh) Munn; and “Great-grandma Sharon” to Ava, Elana, Brayden, Keaton, Jaxson, Owen, Austin, Maddie, Evan, and Weston. She enjoyed them all, but had a special relationship with Ava and Elana and their love for sewing and crafting.
Sharon is also survived by her siblings, Margaret Sunday of Paulding, Ohio, and Mildred Hayes and Lois Redmond, both of LaGrange; and a sister-in-law, Bette (Mrs. Eldon) McKenzie.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Nathan and Marian McKenzie and siblings, Halcyon Garlets, Ardele Johnson, Nelta Swihart, John McKenzie, Van McKenzie, Eldon McKenzie, Dean McKenzie, Verl McKenzie, Bruce McKenzie; and a cousin, Dorland Kessens. Sharon leaves behind many nephews and nieces in her large McKenzie family. Sharon was the youngest of her large family, and grew-up playing with so many nephews and nieces her same age. She carried with her so many wonderful memories of life on the farm with all of the special people which that included.
Sharon will be greatly missed for so many things. Probably most of all: that she was a wealth of knowledge in so many areas and a wonderful example of determination and perseverance.
The funeral service for Sharon McKenzie will be at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, June 1, 2018 at the Hope Community Church, 2390 Lake Street, Niles with Pastor Brad Heiple of the church officiating, assisted by retired Pastor Stan Troyer.
The family will receive relatives and friends on Thursday from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at the church. Contributions in memory of Sharon may be made to Hope Community Church https://hopeofniles.com/give or to Heifer International https://www.heifer.org. Arrangements were made at the Halbritter-Wickens Funeral Home in Niles.