SUTTONS BAY — Leila Esther (Brehmer) Bahle, 89, of Suttons Bay, passed away Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013, at Effie's Assisted Living in Leland, with her family at her bedside. Leila was born in Muncie, Ind., April 11, 1923, daughter of Herbert and Agda (Nelson) Brehmer.
In 1932 the family moved from Lake Forest, Ill., to Agda's family farm on Casperson Road in Northport after Herbert lost his job as city engineer because of the Depression. This was quite a change for a young city girl as the farm had no electricity, running water or indoor plumbing. The following year the family moved to Suttons Bay, where Leila and her siblings attended school. In 1941 she graduated as valedictorian.
Leila then attended Michigan State College, studying home economics, as was expected of her. Not wanting to teach, Leila was encouraged by her father, realizing her strengths with math and science, to take engineering courses qualifying for a job with Pratt & Whitney Aircraft in Hartford, Conn., for the war years. She was disappointed that as the war ended all the women in the engineering department were fired.
Upon returning home Leila worked as a draftsman for her father, a certified civil engineer, assisting him with much of his lettering and drawing.
After a rocky first date with Owen L. Bahle, involving a sailboat tipping over and a solo swim to shore, a successful courtship followed. On Nov. 1, 1947, Leila married Owen who then became her lifetime sweetheart and partner in all things.
She was an owner and partner managing the farms, store and related businesses at Bahle's with Owen for much of her married life.
Leila's life involved working in the business office and raising five children, remaining active in the community and Immanuel Lutheran Church, singing in the choir for over 50 years. Leila had a lifelong love of music, particularly opera and classical, and was a charter member and past president of the local PEO Chapter.
Gardening was one of Leila's passions. With her artistic talents and eye for color and design, every spring she painted her yard with flowers. She brought these same talents into all aspects of her life, particularly to quilting and rug making.
In her later years Leila continued her partnership with Owen as they worked together cataloguing an archive of historic photos of the area.
Leila was preceded in death by her beloved husband, Owen Bahle; a sister, Rosalyn Adams; and a brother, Hebert Brehmer.
Surviving are her sister, Ethel Rushmore; a daughter, Lois (Larry Mawby); four sons, Robert (Joyce Harrington), Richard (Lynda Marshall), Karl (Rabbi Chava) and Chris (Robin McClellan); and grandchildren, Andrew, Anna, Erik, Brittany, Peter and Paul.
Always proud of her Swedish heritage and her family's accomplishments, her greatest joy was raising, together with Owen, her five children.
Loved by many, dear friend to more, Leila will be deeply missed.
A gathering of friends and family will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 17, at the Martinson Funeral Home in Suttons Bay. A celebration of Leila's life will take place Monday, Feb. 18, at 3:30 p.m., at the Immanuel Lutheran Church in Suttons Bay.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions be directed to the Community Foundation/Suttons Bay Historical Photos, 250 E. Front Street, Ste. 310, Traverse City, MI 49684; the Michigan P.E.O. Fund, 7515 Thrasher Lane, Kalamazoo, MI 49009; or Immanuel Lutheran Church, PO Box 206, Suttons Bay, MI 49682.
Please share thoughts and memories with Leila's family on their online guestbook at www.record-eagle.com/obituaries/.
Arrangements are with the Martinson Funeral Home of Suttons Bay.