Lillian Powell

TRAVERSE CITY — Lillian Gertrude (Knapp) Powell, 94, passed away Saturday, March 3, surrounded by her family at Munson Medical Center in Traverse City.

She was born on a farm near Reed City to Alford and Alvina (Morris) Knapp on March 19, 1917. On June 25, 1949, she married George William Powell in the Methodist Church in Reed City. She graduated from LeRoy High School in 1934 and continued on to attend Evart County Normal, Central Michigan University, Western Michigan Teacher’s College and Northwestern Michigan College all to earn her teacher’s certificate.

Teaching was her true gift and passion. She taught several years in the Reed City area before moving to Traverse City. Here, she taught 11 years in Traverse City Area Public Schools at Central Grade and Oak Park Schools, where she was highly regarded and dearly loved by parents and students alike. Upon retiring from TCAPS, she founded and was the Director of Community Day Nursery School, first in her home and later moved to First Congregational Church. Many former students from 50 to 60 years ago often commented on fond memories and what a great start Lillian gave them. She was unique in her ability to listen, encourage and produce success in her students. She was a strong advocate for special needs students. She retired from teaching in 1977 after a total of 37 years. Lillian enjoyed spending the winters in Matlacha, Fla., with her husband for 21 years.

In addition to teaching, she enjoyed music, crafts, reading and was a gifted pianist. She could play by ear almost any song she heard, and was still playing the piano the week before her death. Some of the most cherished moments of her life were spending time with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They looked forward to these times with her as much as she did. Her uncanny sense of humor created a very special bond with her grandchildren, who often talked about the many fond memories she shared with them.

She was a member of the Presbyterian Church for 35 years, where she taught Sunday School for many years.

Lillian is survived by her husband of 62 years, George Powell; two daughters, Shelly (Paul) Appold, and Paula (Vince) Prusick, all of Traverse City; five grandchildren, Katie (Jon) Venuti, of Gainesville, Fla., Angie Appold, of Austin, Texas, Ashley (Jon) Insana, of Vienna, Austria, Vince (Kate) Prusick, of East Lansing, and Parker Prusick of Ann Arbor; two great-grandchildren, Graiden Insana and Mason Insana of Vienna, Austria. She also is survived by many nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Alford and Alvina Knapp; sisters, Naomi (John) Searight, and Ruth (Raymond) Rhodes, all of the Reed City area.

Lillian will be sadly missed by her family and friends. She was a wonderful wife, mother, grandmother and a great friend to many. She was a great role model to her family and maintained her sense of humor even with her health struggles in recent years.

A memorial service for Lillian will be held at 11:30 a.m. on Friday, May 4, at the Presbyterian Church, 701 Westminster Rd., Traverse City, with visitation one hour prior to the service. The Rev. Becky Chamberlain will officiate. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the Father Fred Foundation, 826 Hastings St. Traverse City, MI 48686.

The family would like to thank Dr. Jim Milliken, Dr. Scott Sneed, Dr. Stanley Smyka, Patti Baker, Gail Cinninger and Rev. Becky Chamberlain for all their compassion and wonderful care.

Please share memories of Lillian with her family by way of her online guest book at

The family is being served by the Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home and Cremation Services, 305 Sixth Street, Traverse City, MI 49684.