His beloved wife, Marcia (Tollas) Arend, preceded him in death Aug. 8, 2018. He is survived by his daughter Jeanine Lugo (Nobel) of Indianapolis, his son David Arend (Telka) and granddaughter Saige of Lansing; step-grandchildren Robert (Leslie) Lugo and Melissa (Bryan) Ervin; step-great-grandchildren Joseph Lookabaugh, Jacob Ervin, Jarrin Ervin, Jacen Ervin, Austin Lugo, Olivia Lugo, Carmen Lugo; and step-great-great grandchildren Carson, Casey and Caeden Lookabaugh.
His parents, Clarence and Myrl (Lauer) Arend, as well as his five brothers Lester, Lynn, Vere, Delbert and Ray preceded him in death.
Earl (also known as “Butch”) was born May 20, 1930, in Baroda, the youngest of six boys who spent time working on the family farm. Earl attended Baroda High School, where he played basketball as a “short forward” on the 1948 state championship Baroda Bulldogs team. He excelled in track, participating in the 100-yard and 220-yard dash and held the school’s long job record of 20 feet, ½ inch for many years. He graduated as Baroda class valedictorian in 1949, and graduated from Western Michigan University with a teaching degree in 1953.
He married his high school sweetheart, Marcia Tollas, on June 28, 1953, and they moved to Coldwater, where Earl taught fifth grade. In 1954, they were blessed with a daughter, Jeanine, and in 1955 with a son, David. Earl was drafted into the Army in 1955 and was stationed at Fort Benning for two years, earning the rank of Specialist. When asked what he took away from his military experience, he said, “I learned how to follow orders.”
After he was discharged from the Army, they moved back to Coldwater, where he resumed his teaching. In 1957, they moved to Sturgis, where he taught first at Wall School and then Fourth Street School. In 1960, he earned a master’s degree in elementary administration, and he served as principal for 30 years at Fourth Street, Wall and Jerolene Schools before retiring in 1992. He was highly regarded as “the patriarch of Wall School,” a kind and caring man who was a wonderful role model and positive influence to many students. Community service was a very important component of his life as he sought to make Sturgis a better place to live and work.
He and Marcia were proud of their participation in forming Sturgis Neighborhood Program, whose mission was to rehabilitate homes and make them affordable so people could step into the role of homeowners. The commitment of their time, talents and financial support contributed to the success of SNP, which is still actively rehabilitating homes.
Earl (“the Pearl”) was an active member of Sturgis Exchange Club, serving as president for several years, and organized several Exchange Club projects: “Keep Sturgis Beautiful,” “Salute to Volunteerism” and “Adopt a Highway.” He and Marcia were both bestowed the club’s highest honor, Book of golden Deeds, and both were chosen as Sturgis Citizens of the Year for all they had given back to the community.
In 2019, the Keep Sturgis Beautiful Program was named after him, and he was honored by the Sturgis Exchange Club as a lifetime Exchangite.
He was a very active member of First Presbyterian Church, serving as elder and deacon, and also started the Very Important Presbyterians (VIPs), as a monthly luncheon program for the congregation’s senior citizens. He organized successful Crop Walks for the Presbyterian Church and the combined religious community.
Earl and Marcia loved to travel and participated in the Sturgis Sister City Exchange with Wiesloch, Germany and returned to Europe several times to visit friends. They, in turn, hosted exchange students during the summer when they came to visit in the United States. They very much enjoyed traveling to visit their daughter, as she was stationed with the Army in overseas and stateside posts. They especially enjoyed traveling with Elderhostel (now Road Scholar) and attended classes and excursions in 33 different locations.
Earl’s flower gardens were absolutely stunning and many people drove by their home on Hatch Street at different times of the year just to see what was blooming in the gardens. They dearly enjoyed their cocker spaniel Rudy, who took Earl on many walks around Thurston Woods until his health prevented his daily walks. We appreciate the wonderful care provided by his caregivers from Absolute Home Care, with special thanks to Nicole Limpert and Anna Imburgia.
Visitation will be at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 22, at First Presbyterian Church, followed by a Celebration of Life Service at 11 a.m. Lunch will be provided by the Presbyterian Church after the service.
Rosenberg Chapel of Hackman Family Funeral Homes, 807 E. Chicago Road, Sturgis, has been entrusted with arrangements. In lieu of flowers, memorials in Earl’s name may be directed to First Presbyterian Church of Sturgis or Sturgis Foundation/Sturgis Neighborhood Program.