MESICK — Seldom could you catch Marian L. (Miller) Root of Mesick without a good book in her hand. And yet, while she enjoyed spending much of her time heartily immersed in tales penned by others, in 91 years of life well-lived, Marian managed to squeeze in plenty of time for a wealth of epic adventures of her own. Wife, mother, grandmother, farmhand, lifesaver, “Rosie the Riveter,” baker, bibliophile — Marian took on many roles in her time, proving her mettle at each in turn.
Marian’s backstory began on May 26, 1922, when Chester and Nellie Miller introduced the world to their daughter, Marian Lenore. The setting: the Miller family farm. Growing up on the family farm, Marian had to work as hard as any other farmhand, herding cows and performing all of the other chores that needed to be done to keep the farm running smoothly.
She graduated from Mesick High School, around which time the United States had entered World War II. Never one to stand aside as a secondary character when help was needed, Marian asserted her protagonist status and bolstered the nation’s war effort, first helping to build B-29 heavy bombers at the Willow Run aircraft factory in Ypsilanti, and later as a nurse’s aide in the U.S. Army. Much to her father’s dismay, Marian had quit her “Rosie the Riveter” job building aircraft to join the Army. While Chester couldn’t understand why his daughter would voluntarily abandon her job, Marian reasoned that America’s injured soldiers and the airmen risking their lives flying the hastily built aircraft needed her help far more than the factory did.
During her time with the Army, Marian worked at Percy Jones Hospital at Fort Custer in Battle Creek until the end of the war. Following the war, Marian returned to northern Michigan to work at the Traverse City State Hospital where she met her leading man, Orrin “Jerry” Root, who worked in the hospital pharmacy. The two married on Oct. 11, 1946, and made their home in Mesick.
To help support her family, Marian worked a number of other careers, eventually landing at perhaps her true calling in life as a librarian at the Mesick Public Library. There she was surrounded by the books she so enjoyed, the mysteries in particular.
Marian and Jerry had proudly expanded their cast of characters to include three sons, Tom (Betty) Root of Gaylord, Dick (Dawn) Root of Mesick, and the late Jim (Judy) Root of Interlochen, and one daughter, Mary Jane (Rick) Smith of Silver Lake.
As the pages turned, the family’s dramatis personae grew with the addition of Marian’s adoring grandchildren, Sarah Grubb of Traverse City, Jeremy (Michelle) Root of Kingsley, Troy (Colleen) Root of Kalamazoo, Tony Root of Roscommon, Ben (Jenny) Root of Diamondale, Chad (Andrea) Root of Traverse City, and Aaron (Krystal) Root of Mason, and step-grandsons, Eric Smith of Minnesota and Chad Smith of Silver Lake.
Through the years, just as she added more beloved titles to her bookshelves, so too did Marian joyfully welcome the addition of her eight great-grandchildren.
The greatest tragedies in Marian’s story came with the passing of her husband in 2002 and her son Jim in 2007.
Autumn was in full bloom Monday afternoon, Oct. 14, 2013, when Marian passed away. All of her supporting characters had come to Marian’s side, bidding her a tearful but unfailingly fond farewell as she strode forward, composed as ever, to discover what lies beyond life’s greatest cliffhanger of all. But when one chapter ends, another begins, and as Marian’s legacy of strength and wisdom continues to inform and inspire the narrative to come in the lives of those who know, love, and remember her, she proves that death is not a period, but a comma in the story of life.
Marian’s friends and family will gather at 11 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 19, at the Antioch Bible Church in Mesick to celebrate the achievements and adventures of their shared heroine and to reflect on how their story lines intersected with hers. She will be memorialized in the Antioch Township Cemetery next to her husband, Jerry.
Arrangements were entrusted to Hall- Holdship Funeral Home of Manton. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in cash to the Mesick Public Library, 207 N. Eugene St., Mesick, MI 49668.