Traverse City Record-Eagle


February 14, 2014

Jean Louise Saalfeld

ELK RAPIDS — Jean Louise Saalfeld passed away peacefully on Feb. 10, 2014, at the age of 91. She was born on Aug. 18, 1922, in Pierre, S.D., to Walter and Zelia (Soule) Miser, the third of their four children.

Jean was an accomplished cellist, sailor, duplicate bridge player, dancer, investor, educator and a Daughter of the American Revolution. However, she was most proud to be a loving mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. All who knew Jean will attest to her fierce independence, high degree of intelligence and unending advocacy for women’s rights.

Jean was preceded in death by her first husband, Robert Saalfeld; second husband, Joseph Putsavage; son, Gary; daughter, Janice; parents; and sister, Zelia MacDonald.

She is survived by her sister, Marion Dearing; brother, Walter Mizer; son, Gerald and his wife, Barbara; daughter, Barbara Harris and her husband, Tod; five grandchildren, Emily, Ezra, Ella, Claire and Alexander; two great-grandsons, Max and Jack; and several nieces and nephews.

One of Jean’s final requests to her children and other relatives was “to lead their lives to the fullest and continue to strive for excellence.”

Jean studied music at Oberlin College and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from the University of Nebraska and the University of Michigan, respectively.

For many years she taught business administration classes at Ann Arbor Pioneer High School, the University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University.

Jean had a deep love for music and was a cellist in the Ann Arbor Symphony, Traverse City Symphony and Great Lakes Chamber orchestras. She also loved sailing and, after retiring from teaching, Jean skippered her beloved 37-foot “Fairwind” from Elk Rapids to the Bahamas twice.

Cremation has taken place. A private family service has been held for Jean. A celebration of her life will be held at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions be made in Jean’s memory to the Nature Conservancy, 101 E. Grand River, Lansing, MI 48906; or at and search “make a memorial gift”; or the Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra, 438 E. Lake St., Petoskey, MI 49770;

Memories and condolences may be shared with the family at

The family is being served by the Gorsline Runciman Funeral Homes, East Lansing.

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