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Life Story / Obituary
With unending love, Kathrine Alicki was a blessing in the lives of so many around her. She was a woman of unwavering faith, and through the life she lived each day she exemplified what it means to be the hands and feet of the Lord she loved. Kathrine’s devotion to her family was unmatched, and there was nothing better than memories made with the ones she loved. Gracious, kind, and approachable, she made friends wherever she went. Deeply loved, Kathrine will never be forgotten.
It was great to be an American during the 1920s when innovation brought us things like refrigerators, washing machines, and cars that were more affordable thanks to the wide implementation of the assembly line. Prosperity was largely felt nationwide, and there was much to be thankful for. Amidst this exciting time was a time of great celebration in the lives of Henry and Jennie (Pentinga) Johnson as they announced the birth of the baby girl they named Kathrine Joann on January 11, 1923, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She was one of six as she was joined in her family by her siblings, Mildred, Martin, John, Elizabeth, and Henry. Kathrine’s Father was a jack of all trades while her mother was a factory worker in a food processing plant in addition to being a homemaker. Although she was born in Grand Rapids, her family then moved to Grant, Michigan, when she was in high school. They later returned to Grand Rapids. The Johnsons were a close family, and all the siblings were close in age. Holidays were spent at home or in the homes of relatives and vacations were usually day trips to relatives’ homes. For a time she cared for her grandmother in their home and since her grandmother spoke only Dutch Kathrine learned much of the language.
In many ways Kathrine was a young girl of her generation. She enjoyed playing outside with siblings or neighbor friends as well as sewing, cooking, and baking. Kathrine had a challenging and severe stutter as a child, but at the advice of a doctor, she was able to overcome it through singing and eventually sang in the church choir. It was while growing up that she developed her spirit to care for others as she was often helping family, friends, neighbors, and others in the community. While in high school, Kathrine worked in the onion fields of neighboring farmers in Grant, and she once earned the prestigious title of “Onion Festival Queen” at their annual onion festival. She graduated from Sand Lake High School when she was just 17, ahead of her class.
It was when she was just a young girl of 18 that Kathrine met the love of her life. His name was Ernest “Bud” Alicki, and they were set up on a blind date. Although he was 22 at the time, the sparks few. At times he would walk several miles to her family home to see Kathrine and her parents were very fond of him. After dating for two years, Bud was drafted and sent to Spokane, Washington. He soon sent for her, Kathrine traveled to Washington State by train to marry her sweetheart. They were married by an Army chaplain on May 23, 1943. They were not able to take a honeymoon as Bud was sent overseas and Kathrine returned to live with her parents in Grand Rapids. During that time she worked various jobs including as a proofreader, cigar roller, and housemaid.
When Bud’s military duties were fulfilled, he returned home and the two soon purchased a house at 1335 Diamond Avenue, NE in Grand Rapids. This would be the only house they ever lived in, and Kathrine even remained there for a time after his death. Together they were blessed with three children including their son, Micheal, who was born in 1946 but sadly died when he was just nine days old. Later, they welcomed Cynthia and Timothy into their hearts and home.
As a young mother, Kathrine’s first priority was to care for her family as a homemaker, but she also helped make ends meet in the family by working as a teacher’s aide for Grand Rapids Public Schools. This was a great fit as it allowed her to be home when her children got home from school. When her children became a bit more independent, Kathrine was able to pursue a career that she loved as a para professional helping with physically handicapped children at Ottawa Hills High School. She excelled in this position for many years until retiring.
There was never anything of greater importance to Kathrine than her family. The enjoyed traveling up North with another family for a memorable cottage rental vacation, and Kathrine would regularly take her children to visit relatives in both Chicago and the Detroit area. As a parent she would not allow spanking or hitting as a form of discipline, and she was always loving, compassionate, and wise as a mother. Kathrine was amazing in the kitchen, and among the family favorites were her turkey and dressing dinners using the recipe that is still utilized by her children and grandchildren to this day.
Throughout her life Kathrine was always busy. She read the Bible daily, and it was her favorite possession. Kathrine’s faith was vitally important, and she was very active in her church, Calvary Reformed Church on Fulton Street in Grand Rapids. Although Bud didn’t go to church himself, he did help get the children ready and out the door for church. For years Kathrine was involved in the ladies guilds at church. Kathrine enjoyed history and museums, and often had nice background music on. She collected porcelain tea cups and enjoyed her formal dinnerware handed down from her mother. Later in life Kathrine and Bud would become known to their family, friends, and neighbors for their daily happy hour in their home every day around four or five o’clock.
Life was forever changed for Kathrine with Bud’s death in 2009. She remained in their home but when it became too much for to manage she moved to Traverse City to be closer to her daughter. Kathrine settled into an independent and assisted living facility, the Grand Traverse Pavilions. She made many new friends there and became a favorite among the staff. Kathrine was able to remain active there and also enjoyed games and various activities until her death.
All who knew Kathrine Alicki would agree that she was truly beautiful on the inside and out. She gave everything her all, and she was deeply devoted to the people, work, and faith she was passionate about. Kathrine was a true gift in the lives of many.
Kathrine Joann Alicki of Traverse City, MI, formally of Grand Rapids, MI, passed away peacefully on Sunday, January 26, 2020. She was born in January of 1923 in Grand Rapids, MI to Henry and Jennie Johnson. Along with her parents, Kathrine is preceded in death by her husband of 66 years Ernest “Bud” Alicki and their infant son Michael. Kathrine is survived by her two children, Cynthia and Gordon Evarts and Rev. Timothy and Cindy Alicki; grandchildren, Gordon and Vikki Evarts, Andrea and Brian Bennink, Nate Schafer and 5 great-grandchildren. She enjoyed a long and rewarding career as an educational aide with the Grand Rapids Public Schools and was a faithful and committed member of Calvary Reformed Church in Grand Rapids. Funeral services will be held on Friday, January 31, 2020 at 11:30 AM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home–Van Strien Creston Chapel, (1833 Plainfield NE, Grand Rapids, MI 48505) where relatives and friends are invited to visit with her family on Friday from 10:00 AM until the time of the service. Memorial contributions to either the Grand Traverse Pavilions Foundation, (1000 Pavilions Circle, Traverse City MI, 49684 or to Munson Healthcare Hospice Foundation, (1150 Medical Campus Dr., Traverse City MI, 49684). To read more about Kathrine’s life, to share a favorite memory, photo, or to sign the online register, please visit www.heritagelifestory.com