Cover photo for Fay Christenson Bovee's Obituary
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Fay Christenson Bovee

September 15, 1924 — August 2, 2021

Fay Christenson Bovee, 96, loving mother, lifelong resident of Grayling, passed away on August 2, 2021 at The Brook in Grayling.  Fay Elaine Christenson was born September 15, 1924 to Peter William Christenson and Rosa Schreiber, both were among the original families of Grayling and homesteaded on the AuSable River. Fay was able to attend Central Michigan College only because she received a $10 or $15 scholarship.  There she majored in music, perhaps in the hopes of becoming a musical therapist.  There she met Robert Bovee and the two married on December 20, 1945 in Mt. Pleasant.  After Bob was discharged from the Navy and finished school, she taught a year in Walled Lake until the newlyweds moved to Grayling.

Fay hadn’t intended to return to Grayling or become a teacher but ended up at the Grayling Elementary School for thirty years. She taught three generations of students in third, fourth, and fifth grades.   Many in the town today will remember her as one of their teachers, continuing to share stories of the fun and unusual activities they still remember from her classroom.

Fay was perhaps best known for being a local historian, having an encyclopedic wealth of information about the town. She could tell you where the original Hunter’s Dairy was located, who lived upstairs from stores on Michigan Avenue, and where the original Post Office was.  If people appeared at the Crawford County Library or the Crawford County Historical Museum with questions, they were sent to her.  She even helped solve the mystery of an adoptee’s biological family.  She claimed to not like history, but always listened to the stories that her mother and Aunt Lizzie Serven would tell.  Fay wrote for the Bay City Times, and also wrote the Bits O’ Talk column for the Avalanche for many years, which was a place to learn news of family, friends, neighbors, and the happenings in Grayling.  She continued some form of it until she was in her 90’s.  Another column, Strolling About Town, would highlight  homes or gardens she thought deserved a mention. In her later years as she was cared for by health care workers, her consistent questions were: what  is your name,  are you from Grayling, are you a relative?  Often the answer to the last question was yes.

Fay raised two daughters. She helped Bob build a home, and was an avid sewer.  She grew beautiful flower gardens that were admired by many.  Her grandchildren remember plundering her raspberry bushes and watering the plants when they visited for the summer.  She also was a member of a number of service organizations, including the Grayling Promotional Association and the Kiwanis Club.  She even finally learned to play golf and played in the Ladies Golf League. Fay remained active, going on regular walks well into her 90s, and she had a habit of telling friends at the ice cream parlor that she had a good heart. And she did.

As a child, Fay longed to leave the place where she grew up and she maintained a lifelong love for traveling. She and Bob took many trips, some to places that she had only dreamed of as a young girl, like the fjords of Norway. They even took their grandsons with them on two different trips. At some point in her life she had visited all 50 states and many parts of Europe. 

Another of Fay’s passions was genealogy, which was the purpose of some of their trips.  She has compiled many notebooks of family history about the Stephan and Schreiber families.   She was the oldest person attending the Stephan Family Reunion in 2019.   Because of their research, they were able to visit family birth places in Europe and obtain birth and marriage certificates.  This was before much of this information was available on the internet.

Fay was adventurous and willing to try new things.  During WWII, she spent a summer working in a factory in Detroit, assembling the Sperry ball turret, used on the B-17 Flying Fortress.  She once waded into a field of wheat to ask the farmer if he could give her daughters a ride on his combine.  In her 90’s, she caught a ride to Ohio with a neighbor in a semi who was a tractor-trailer driver.

Fay was kind and generous but she also could hold her own.  She was a strong woman and an example for other women long before strong women were socially acceptable.  Being an only child, she spent time with her father, going to places that girls didn’t usually go.  She said that she didn’t need to be liberated, realizing that she already was.

Fay is survived by two daughters Billie Smith (Richard) of Tunbridge, VT, Dena Bovee (Bruce Goll) of Dublin, OH,  three grandchildren, Peter Smith (Natalie Conn) of Portland, ME, Paul Smith (Mary Lake) of Tunbridge, VT, and Doria Goll of Tallahassee, FL, as well as two great-grandsons, Paul’s sons Hugo and Garth Smith.  Her husband Bob preceded her in death May 28, 2009.  She is also survived by brother-in-law Keith Bovee and sister-in-law Joyce (Ron) Moore and nieces and nephews.

The family would like to thank the staff of The Brook of Grayling for their excellent and loving care in the last year.

Outdoor Services will be held Sunday, August 22, 2021, at 2:00 p.m., at the Grayling Country Clulb.

In lieu of flowers, consider contributing to the Robert and Fay Bovee Health Scienes Nursing Scholarship: Kirtland Community College Foundation - Endowed Scholarships - 4800 W 4 Mile Road - Grayling MI 49738

Condolences may be sent to the family at:

Billie Smith - 507 VT Route 110 - Tunbridge, VT 05077 or [email protected].


To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Fay Christenson Bovee, please visit our flower store.

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Sunday, August 22, 2021

Starts at 2:00 pm (Eastern time)

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