Cover photo for Joseph H. Ely's Obituary
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Joseph H. Ely

June 9, 1931 — September 17, 2015

Joseph Harold Ely, Sr Joseph Harold Ely, Sr passed away on September 17th at his home in Grayling Township, surrounded by his loving family after a brief battle with cancer. Joe was born June 9th in 1931 to Edward and Alice (Slater) Ely in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Joe's mother died while he was an infant and he was raised by his paternal grandmother Martha Blackett Morley-Ely until her passing. After graduating from Portage High School in 1951 he enlisted in the Navy. During leave he married his long time sweetheart Evelyn on December 24th,1951. His new bride traveled by train to join him in San Diego, California where he was stationed. After 4 years in the Navy, Joe returned his family to Kalamazoo. Joe then moved his growing family to Battle Creek where he served in the Michigan Air National Guard at Fort Custer. In the summer of 1969 Joe then moved his family up north to Grayling and became a prominent figure at Camp Grayling and in the community. Joe served in many branches of the military: 4 years active duty in the Navy, 8 years Naval Reserve, 5 years Michigan Air National Guard and 12 years Michigan Army National Guard and retired after many years of service in 1987 from Camp Grayling, as a Warrant Officer II. He was preceded in death by his parents, brothers William, Donald and Walter and grandson Gregory Petrie. He is survived by his loving wife of 64 years Evelyn Wiborn-Ely, children; Ruth (Fred) Koci, Joseph H (Joyce) Ely, Jr., Kay (David) Petrie and Pete Kocefas (unofficial adopted son). Grandchildren Jason (Sheri) Westervelt, Aaron (Shabnam) Westervelt, Kristy Jo (Jason) Ely-Heath, Dee Anne Ely-Pinkney, Joshua Petrie, Christopher Petrie, Elysia Petrie, Jonathan Petrie, Nickolas Petrie and eight great grandchildren. Siblings Thomas (Marilyn) Ely and sister Mary Ely-Short also survive. The community will long remember Joe for his gruff demeanor and his off the wall antics. He was well known for his skills in carpentry, electrical and refrigeration; as many friends and family would often call upon his expertise. The soccer referees were probably ecstatic when the Petrie children moved on from their teams. The refs may not have realized it was Joe's rants and raves they were missing, they just knew something just was not the same. He was always there to help the grandchildren with their schoolwork, and was known to visit their teachers in their defense. The school bus would pick up and drop the young Petrie grandchildren off at and from his home. After several attempts one fall to get the bus to stop and let one of the them off, he finally put a sawhorse up with a sign "Wanted one kindergartner." A certain neighbor will recall a visit from him upon his arrival to the neighborhood. He handed him a leaf from his yard and asked "Do you see anything different about this leaf?" The young man replied "Well yes, it has my house number on it." Upon that, Joe replied "that is right, all my leaves have my house number on them, the rest have your number; and I would appreciate you coming over and getting them." And we offer our sincere apologies to his next door neighbor, as one fall he was burning leaves and the small fire traveled into their yard and destroyed their pet cemetery. He was not known to apologize to anyone, I hope you will understand. On a fishing trip, he admitted to his family, that he had let the anchor out on his dear friends' boat as he was attempting to cross the lake. The poor guy thought he was having motor troubles. So he was known to do some strange things, so we hope his friends, colleagues and business owners dished it right back to him. So, as his family will dearly miss him and his high jinx, shenanigans, we know the community will not be the same without him. Interment will be at Elmwood Cemetery and in lieu of flowers, contribution to Gregory Joseph Petrie Scholarship Fund would be appreciated. To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Joseph H. Ely, please visit our flower store.


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