Lorraine A. Schneider

REED CITY — Our beloved mother and grandmother, Lorraine Alsys Schneider, 83, of Reed City, passed away peacefully on Sept. 2, 2012, at Blodgett Hospital. Her final days were spent surrounded by loving family members recounting favorite memories, life lessons and values taught and expressions of deep love and thankfulness for her life and her impact on each of them.

Lorraine was born in Chicago on Dec. 16, 1928, to John and Helen Alsys, hard working Lithuanian immigrants. Her family moved to Saranac to farm right before the Great Depression. The Depression greatly influenced her life, as her family struggled with hardships and setbacks. Even at this young age, these challenges fortified her and gave her an inner strength of courage and the will to rise above her circumstances to develop and achieve her goals. Through her hard work and her never-give-up attitude, she persevered and continued to inch her way forward, overcoming obstacles to better her life circumstances. In addition to working on her family farm, at a young age, she picked strawberries at other farms, earning money to buy a linen chest for 25 cents at an estate sale and materials to decorate her bedroom. This was the beginning of her appreciation for hard work, the value of money and the importance of saving and being frugal, which carried on with her throughout her lifetime.

Always a leader, she was president of the bond drive effort during World War II, captain of her basketball team, editor of the year book and president of her senior class at Saranac High School. As part of her home economics class, each morning before school they prepared tasty homemade meals for everyone in the school for lunch. During the summers and throughout college days at Grand Rapids Junior College, she soldered parts for the war effort and worked at the Charles Manor and Schnitzelbank restaurants in Grand Rapids.

Lorraine then moved to Marion and began raising her family where she continued to farm producing pigs and chickens to supplement the family income. She moved to Reed City a few years later where she lived until her death.

She was a pioneer business woman of her day. In 1956, she became a successful Avon sales representative and in 1961 an Avon district sales manager, retiring in 1988, which changed and enriched the course of her family’s history. Her first district covered from Lake Michigan to Lake Huron. Her dream was to reach a professional and economic status where she could provide for her family and ensure a college education for each of her children, which she accomplished fully. During her illustrious career with Avon, among the many honors and awards she won, she earned the Circle of Excellence Award a record 10 times, which earned her exotic and luxurious trips to places around the world such as Spain, Paris, Japan, Austria, Boca Raton and Hawaii. The Circle of Excellence is the highest distinction at Avon, awarded to the top 10 percent of district sales managers in the nation with the largest sales increase. The award she was especially proud of was the Spirit of Avon Award. She was truly the essence of the spirit of Avon through her enthusiasm, compassion, integrity, positive attitude and being an example of the values and ideals of the company. She helped change the lives of so many of her representatives by giving them the tools to achieve their goals to better themselves and their families through her dedication and devotion to their success, along with her compassion and enthusiasm.

Lorraine graduated from Ferris State University Summa Cum Laude, being awarded the Outstanding Graduate Award at the age of 67 with a degree in finance 50 years after starting her college course work at Grand Rapids Junior College. Her formal education was suspended for family and career endeavors.

Of course, her proudest achievement — and why she strove for success — was her children and grandchildren. All of her energies, thoughts and dreams were directed toward them and the fulfillment of the hopes and dreams of each of them. She instilled in them the value of hard work, education and setting high goals and standards. Her positive attitude and can-do spirit enabled her to achieve her dreams and pass along those ideals to her family. Every birthday card always included: “You can accomplish whatever you set your mind to.” All of her children and grandchildren took that message to heart, following her example. Her unconditional love for each of them gave them the courage, confidence and belief to reach for their own individual aspirations. She was always their best advocate, the first one there to help and support in times of difficulty or illness and always their best cheerleader, fan and enthusiast in times of joy, achievement and success.

Her favorite activity was spending time with family and friends, along with book club, Red Hat Society and AARP. Musical performances by her son and daughter-in-law, Chuck and Barb Schneider, was something that was near and dear to her heart. Just two weeks before her death she made a monumental effort to hear them play her gospel favorites one last time at the Methodist service at Albright Camp. Thank you to all of her friends who included her in various events and activities throughout the years and supported her throughout her illness. Thank you also to the kind doctors, nurses and medical staff who cared for her.

She will be sadly missed by her children, Charles (Barbara) Schneider, of Reed City, Lillian Hartnett, of Sugar Land, Texas, and Carol (Richard) Cooper, of Ludington; her grandchildren, Nicole Schneider, of Houston, Texas, Julia Schneider, of Atlanta, Ga, Craig Cooper, of Baldwin, Kristin Cooper, of Ludington and Richard P. (Brittany) Hartnett, of Houston, Texas, who are awaiting the birth of Lorraine’s great-granddaughter, her namesake, Addison Lorraine.

Above all, Lorraine was a wonderful mother and grandmother, and she loved each of us dearly as we loved her. We will treasure precious memories and valuable lessons and values instilled in us. A private family memorial service will be held to honor and celebrate her life. If you wish, donations may be made to Spectrum Health in her memory.