Constance Graves Deam, 86

Constance Graves Deam passed away peacefully at her home in San Luis Obispo, Calif., on July 20, 2019. She was 86.

A graduate of Michigan State College, Connie grew up in Royal Oak and spent her summers in Saugatuck.

In addition to enjoying the beach and swimming there, she spent time in her uncle Carl Bird’s boat building workshop, which contributed to her lifelong passion of working with her hands creatively. She always had a project underway and could be found re-caning chairs, fixing a canoe or upholstering furniture (most of which she rescued from the dumpster), and she as likely had paint spattered on her cheeks as makeup. 

She also was an avid seamstress and taught sewing classes which kept her shabby family looking somewhat presentable. 

While at a beach party in Saugatuck, her date switched girls and she ended up with the consolation prize, who of course became her husband of 63 years and 7 months, Norman Arthur Deam. 

Norm was a career Naval Officer and Connie joined him in many adventures across the country when he was re-stationed every few years. They loved traveling abroad together yet always came back to their beloved Lighthouse in Saugatuck for the summers. 

What began as an unfinished shell of a structure, changed over 50 years to become an unfinished structure with indoor plumbing and, most importantly, a welcoming refuge for friends and family.

Life at the off-grid Lighthouse was joyous but also difficult.  Water came from a hand started pump, there was no electricity, and only a small boat for transportation required Connie to be an expert helms woman. 

She raised two sons, often alone, at the Lighthouse and was a surrogate mom to several of their friends who required potential partners to pass the “Connie Test” by starting and running an outboard motor.

Connie loved playing the piano and filled her home with music. She often played the straight man accompanist to Norm’s ridiculous trombone playing. When she decided it was time for a “new” piano at the Lighthouse, Norm “engineered” the transportation by lashing two canoes together with a platform, towed it across the lake, and enlisted a small army to push it up a sand dune to get it in the house. She engendered the kind of love for her that everyone felt lucky to help.

Connie was quick to make friends and in San Luis Obispo belonged to many groups including SLO Masters Swimming, Cal Poly Women's Club, the Gourmet Club and piano and quilting groups.

Connie was a big hearted, generous, easy going and joyful personality. She will be dearly missed by her husband Norm, sons Eric and Chris, daughter-in-law Lara and grandchildren Cal and Macy.

A celebration of her life will be held in the Fall in San Luis Obispo, Calif.

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