HILLSDALE — Lyla J. Rodgers, 74, of Hillsdale, passed away peacefully at home Saturday morning, Feb. 8, 2014, after a courageous two-year battle with lymphoma. She will be deeply missed by her family, friends and community.
Lyla was born May 4, 1939, in Traverse City. She grew up on a farm on the Old Mission Peninsula, where she spent many summers helping in the orchards with her father, Albert and mother, Helen, as well as her siblings, Stan, Maxine and Joyce.
Lyla attended Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City, where she met her husband, Norm. The couple married Sept. 19, 1958. They then went on to attend Michigan State University, where Lyla was accepted into the Honors College of MSU.
After college Lyla and Norm settled in the Detroit area where both children, Rick and Noelle, were born.
She taught in the Detroit public school system and forged lifelong friendships through her church and community that she treasured.
In 1973 the family moved to Cadillac in northern Michigan, where she enjoyed activities in the community, such as the Cadillac Philharmonic Club, playing tennis and skiing. She also started a part-time career in Mary Kay Cosmetics and became a sales director.
In 1983 Lyla and Norm moved to Hillsdale. With her love of music, Lyla soon became a member of the Hillsdale Arts Chorale. She loved being a part of the chorale and continued to contribute her beautiful soprano voice for over 20 years. She also joined the chorale on a special trip to England in the spring of 2000. The group traveled to London and Wales and shared their music wherever they went. She also was an active member of the Hillsdale Garden Club, the Hillsdale Women’s Club and was a member of the board of the Women Commissioners of Hillsdale College.
While in Hillsdale she also sold residential real estate and then went on to start a career in antiques. She loved going to auctions, estate sales and garage sales to hunt for hidden treasure or a great find. She set up shop at Greentop in Allen and loved selling her antiques as much as finding them. She also was the chairperson for the antiques department for the annual Hillsdale College Rummage Sale.
She had an unmatched enthusiasm for life and shared it with all who knew and met her. She loved to travel and made several trips to Europe as well as a special trip to Tunisia in 1993. She loved to cook and entertain for friends and family. She was admired for the beautiful spaces that she created to host her family and friends. She was the consummate hostess - she would spend as much time and effort as was necessary to put together meals and treats and all the little touches to make family and guests feel welcome and special. Her home and heart was always a place of love and warmth and smiles and understanding.
In 2008 the family celebrated Norm and Lyla’s 50th wedding anniversary with a special trip to Traverse City, a place that was near and dear to both Lyla and Norm. The family enjoyed a limo ride up the Old Mission Peninsula to dinner, and on the way they stopped at Lyla’s one-room schoolhouse, which is now a wine tasting room for a local vintner.
She was a woman of great faith, and her church was an integral part of her life. She regularly attended Bible study and sang in an octet called Celebreight that performed at Sunday services. She also helped with the church yard sales and participated in the Hillsdale College adopted student program.
Some of her other favorite activities were dancing with Norm, taking in the sights around Lake Wilson in the pontoon boat with Norm (or Rick, or Will) at the wheel, watching fireworks by the lake in July, long walks through the college arboretum with grandson, Will, working in her garden and hunting shells on the beach with family in Florida.
Lyla is survived by son, Richard, daughter-in-law, Alison and grandson, William, of Pleasant Ridge; daughter, Noelle, of Chicago, Ill.; sister, Maxine, of Kennesaw, Ga.; and many beloved nieces and nephews.
Her husband, Norm; sister, Joyce; and brother, Stanley preceded her in death.
The family will receive friends for a visitation from 5 to 8 p.m. on March 14, 2014, at Van Horn-Eagle Funeral Home, 40 S. Manning Street, Hillsdale. A celebration of life memorial service will be held on Saturday, March 15, at 11 a.m., at College Baptist Church, 200 N. Manning Street, Hillsdale.
Lyla loved flowers, but her family asks that in lieu of flowers, memorial donations be made to the following organizations: Hickman Cancer Center, Bixby Community Hospital Foundation, 818 Riverside Avenue, Adrian, MI 49221, Attn: Terri Butler; or College Baptist Church of Hillsdale, 200 N. Manning Street, Hillsdale, MI 49242, Attn: Building Fund.