Rachel Dorothy Murray Celmer, age 100, of White Pigeon, died Monday, January 1, 2018 in Prescott Valley, Arizona. She was born on July 22, 1917 the daughter of Willard Edmund and Ocie Davis Murray on her grandmother Davis’ farm in Van Buren Township in LaGrange County, Indiana. She graduated from Scott High School in 1934. She was married to Henry S. Celmer on July 14, 1934 in LaPorte, Indiana. They renewed their vows on October 2, 1937 with the Rev. Andrew J. Grutka at St. Vincent DePaul Catholic Church in Elkhart.
Rachel served as President of the Altar Society of St. Joseph Catholic Church in White Pigeon from 1956-59. Her family and the parishoners worked closely with Rev. John Fackler to promote the building of the present St. Joseph Church which was completed in 1959. In 1959 Rachel and her husband moved to California when Henry accepted a position with Rocketdyne in Canoga Park. Rachel worked six years with Union Bank where she trained tellers. She received an Associate of Arts degree from Pierce Junior College where she was awarded a Faculty Scholarship for outstanding achievement. In 1972, the family moved to Iowa where Henry was employed with Farm Services in Coralville and Rachel taught school and tutored students in math, geometry and science. They retired to Sun City, California in 1977 and were active in in the Sun City Bowling League and travelled extensively with the Sun City Travel Club. They returned to Michigan in 1988 and became members of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, and where they celebrated their 69th wedding anniversary shortly begore Henry’s passing on August 12, 2003.
Rachel has written a book on Scott High School and the one-room schools in LaGrange County. She was the author of an article about Chief Shipshewana for the Shipshewana Centennial in 1989. Rachel’s maternal grandparents, Abraham Summey and Hezekiah Davis were founders of the town names in honor of Chief Shipshewana. She was also the author of the book, 40th Anniversary of St. Joseph Catholic Church in White Pigeon. She was a devoted wife and mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She loved to read, write books and letters, travel, and she especially loved to spend time with her family.
Rachel is survived by a son, Stan (Paula) Celmer; 3 grandchildren, Kristin (Michael) Meyers, Stephen Celmer, and Monica (Greg) Purkey; 4 great-grandchildren, Kendall Meyers, Jacob Meyers, Kristina Purkey, and Charlotte Purkey; half-sister, Roberta Merkley; step-brother, Brice Weddle; step-grandsons, John and Robert Piper; and many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Henry; 2 sisters, Vera B. Knowles and infant Pauline Ellen Murray; 3 brothers, Roscoe, William, and Willard Murray.
Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018 at the Eickhoff Farrand Halverson Chapel in Three Rivers, and where the Rosary will be recited at 6:30 p.m. Thursday. The funeral mass will be celebrated 11 a.m. Friday, Jan. 12, 2018 at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church followed by interment in Riverside Cemetery. Memorials may be directed to Immaculate Conception Catholic Church for mass intentions. Condolences may be expressed to the family online at www.efhchapel.com