May Elizabeth Wightman Winne, 95
May Elizabeth Wightman Winne Oct.1, 1918-May 30, 2014 (95 1/2 years). May was born to Alice May Raplee Wightman and Walter Willis Wightman on a fruit, grain and dairy farm in Ganges. She was a hard-worker and fierce cherry picker-only one man could out-pick her!
When she married Earl Winne, they bought a house 200 yards from her birth home and she lived the rest of her life there.
She had four children, Lowell "Butch" Winne, Laddie Winne (married to Vickie), Kay Kool (married to Rich Kool), and Leslie Winne. She had 52 blood descendants, 49 still living, who adored her and will always cherish their memories of her.
May loved music and though she was very shy, she also loved to perform. She was an accomplished accordionist, who won first place in accordion at the 1939 Southwest Michigan Musical Festival in Saint Joseph. She advanced to the Chicagoland Music Festival at Soldiers Field in Chicago with 20,000 in attendance, had top billing with her picture in the Chicago Tribune, and placed third.
After her picture appeared in Accordion World magazine, she received many requests to perform locally and also on the Chicago WLS radio show National Barn Dance. On a tour of the Eastern seaboard, she attended a reception at the White House. "We had a special audience with Eleanor Roosevelt. And we got to shake her hand. When I got home, nobody would have anything to do with me 'cause they were all Republicans (laughs)" (from Joan Donaldson's story for NPR).
May loved her chocolate and preferred to eat her dessert first. She was also an avid and lifelong baseball fan and attended many play-off and World Series games in Atlanta, appearing in three TV fan shots and interviews. She once tortured some friends with a double-header in Yankee stadium. She had to be there early for batting practice and stay for the last out, and both games went deep into extra innings!
May touched many lives as a music teacher in the Fennville school system, gave accordion and piano lessons in her home, and was the organist at the Ganges Methodist and Douglas Community churches for almost 50 years.
Ravaged by arthritis, with most of her joints surgically replaced, her fingers were very crooked and curled and hard to control, but she somehow played on through the pain, and played very well! In this, and all things, she did her very best.
Visitation will be at Chappell Funeral Home in Fennville Friday, June 6, from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. The funeral will be at Ganges United Methodist church Saturday June 7 at 2pm, with performances by some of the many people she inspired. Donations in her honor may be made to the Ganges United Methodist Church, 2218 68th St., Fennville, MI 49408, (269) 543-3581; mailing address P.O. Box 511, Fennville, MI 49408.