Cover photo for Verta E. "Billie" Tolly's Obituary
1922 Verta 2017

Verta E. "Billie" Tolly

March 21, 1922 — November 8, 2017

Obituary Image

Verta Elizabeth “Billie” Tolly, age 95 years of Niles, Michigan died peacefully at 10:15 a.m. on Wednesday, November 8, 2017 with family gathered around at her home, following an extended illness.

She was born on March 21, 1922 in Highwood, Michigan to Clarence LeRoy and Gladys Ardella (Denzer) Guernsey.  She was graduated from Beaverton High School, and as a young woman was employed in the offices of the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous in Flint, Michigan.  Later, she earned her certification as a Registered Nurse from Lake Michigan College, and was employed as a nurse at the former Pawating Hospital in Niles (now Lakeland Hospital – Niles).  She has lived in Niles since 1962 coming from Leslie, Michigan.

Billie was a member of each American Baptist Church to which her husband was called to Pastor including the Huntly Memorial Baptist Church in Niles.   She volunteered as an R.N. at the Southwest Michigan Community Ambulance Service (SMCAS), and with the Niles Chapter of the American Red Cross.  She enjoyed reading – especially about history and about the Amish culture - and was faithful to private daily time in the Bible and Prayer.  Her greatest joy, lifelong career, and highest calling were serving as a Pastor’s wife and mother and homemaker for her family

She married Private John R. Tolly, U.S. Army in Angola, Indiana.  Billie and Rev. John Tolly celebrated the remarkable sixty-eighth anniversary of their wedding just four days prior to his death on March 31, 2011.  They were also sadly preceded in death by an infant son, John R. Tolly II and an infant grandson, Christopher Tolly, both in 1964, a daughter, Billie J. “Jeannie” Klassen in 1993, Jeannie’s husband, David Klassen in 1995; and Billie’s sisters, Wilda “Boots” Rowley, Bonnie “Aryn” Tolly.

Surviving family includes her son, Lanny R. (& Ruth) Tolly of Ocala, Florida, Kathleen Bowen (& Bill) Melvin of Bradenton, Florida, and Bonnie L. (& George) Erhardt of Niles; seven grandchildren, sixteen great-grandchildren and four great-great-grandchildren; and Billie’s brother, Max Guernsey and sister, Coralee Foster, both of Beaverton, and many nieces and nephews.

The family of Billie Tolly will receive relatives and friends on Saturday, November 18, 2017 beginning at 2:00 p.m. at the Halbritter-Wickens Funeral Home in Niles with a time of sharing to honor her life at 3:00 p.m. led by Pastor Jim Wing of Niles.  Committal Services will be announced at a later date, and will be at the Dale Cemetery in Beaverton.

Contributions in memory of Billie may be made to the Missions & Outreach program of Hope Community Church, 2390 Lake Street, Niles, MI  49120;; or to the Caring Circle Hospice at Home, 4025 Health Park Lane, Saint Joseph, MI 49085;  Online condolences may be left at:

Charitable donations may be made to:

Caring Circle Hospice at Home
4025 Health Park Lane, Saint Joseph MI 49085
Tel: 1-269-429-7100

Hope Community Church
2390 Lake Street, Niles MI 49120
Tel: 1-269-684-2770

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Verta E. "Billie" Tolly, please visit our flower store.


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