Edna Elizabeth “Hamma” (Arntz) Pelkey, 92, of St. Joseph, Michigan, died Monday, January 11, 2016. She was born January 10, 1924 to William Maximillian and Myrtle Mae (White) Arntz in Burnstad, ND. She was a graduate of St. John Catholic High School and on 5-8-43 married Lawrence Frederick Pelkey, in Benton Harbor, celebrating 66 years together. She was preceded in death by her husband Larry, and brothers Marvin, Leonard, Arthur (Bud) and Maurice (Sonny) Arntz, her sister Gertrude Yeske and grandson-in-law Sean McCalla. She is survived by her brother Norman, of Eugene, OR, her sister, Loretta Phelan of St. Joseph and sisters-in-law Joan Pelkey of Stevensville and Loretta Damico of St. Joseph; her eight children: Shirley (Dennis) Lee of St. Joseph, Donna (Gary) Jennings of Benton Harbor, Ron (Betty Jo) Pelkey of Alpharetta, GA, Becky (Larry) Rotter of Sodus, Debra (Don) Cook of Benton Harbor, Pam (Bill) Schueneman of St. Simons Island, GA, Gary Pelkey (Chris) of St. Petersburg, FL, and Mark (Lori) Pelkey of Holly Springs, GA, as well as 25 grandchildren: Dennis and Eric Lee, Kristina Rita; Jackie Donley, Michele Frischmann; Becky and Nicholas Pelkey, Lori Scheck; Jenna and Jason Rotter; Tim,Nick, Benjy and Jonny Cook; Gretchen Barker, Alex Turner, Aaron and Byron Schueneman; Ryan, Matthew, Andrew and Jeremy Pelkey; Dustin, Sierra, and Blake Pelkey, 27 great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.
She was affectionately called “Hamma” by her first great-grandchildren, so named by her first great-grandchild, Sarah, who had trouble making the “G” sounds. It stuck. She loved children, especially babies and her home was always filled with family and friends. She had a knack for making you feel special when she met you. When visiting, you would awaken to pots, pans and dishes shuffling in the kitchen. She had been up for hours, preparing a dozen different things to eat already on the table ready to devour; a platter of donuts, coffee cake, a bowl of assorted fruit, fried potatoes, bacon and sausage. Then miraculously she would put a plate of scrambled eggs down. She greeted you with “What can I get you?” When told she always made too much she would say, “Oh, it’s just a little bit of this and a dab of that.” Or, when complimented on her baking she’d respond, “Oh, it’s just old pie.” All her grandchildren agreed she made the best cherry cheesecake and peanut butter pie. It was hands down, the best!
Hamma would occasionally ask her granddaughter, Jackie Donley if she’d like to play cards. When Jackie said she didn’t like to play cards, Hamma said “You’re gonna need to learn to like it. It’s what you do when you get old.” She also called her granddaughter, “Jacqueline De Shannon” guessing she must have liked the songs that made her name popular, “What the World Needs Now Is Love” and “Put a Little Love In Your Heart.”
She graduated from St. John Catholic High School and was a member of St. John-St. Bernard Catholic Church. After raising her eight children, she worked part-time at Jewel Food Store in Benton Harbor.
Edna’s hobbies including bowling and playing cards, especially with her grandchildren.
Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11:30 a.m., Friday, January 15, 2016 at St. Bernard’s Catholic Church, 555 E. Delaware Ave., Benton Harbor, with the Rev. Fr. German Perez-Diaz officiating. Friends may visit with the family from 5:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. Thursday, January 14, 2016, at Starks & Menchinger Chapel, 2650 Niles Rd., St. Joseph. Prayers will be recited at 7:30 P.M. Thursday at the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Lake Michigan Catholic Schools or Berrien County Cancer Service. Those wishing to sign Edna’s Memory Book online may do so at www.starks-menchinger.com.
The family would like to extend a thank you to her caretakers at Pine Ridge Rehab Center, Hospice at Home and at The Whitcomb where she resided for last two years.