Hail and Farwell

January 3, 2019

Winterfield Township lost a couple of long time residents as the New Year approached. Betty Randall and her husband Russell came to live on the family’s acres in Winterfield more than 50 years ago. She was active in the EverReady’s for many years. Mrs. Randall was 93.

We also lost our oldest and probably longest resident with the passing of Lucille Richardson Prielipp, 101. Although she was not born here Lucille became a resident at a very young age and is a descendant of early Winterfield residents through various grandparents including Sene Richardson and Oscar Salisbury, both pioneers of note.

Julie Traynor Postcards from the Pine Columnist

Julie Traynor Postcards from the Pine Columnist

I reckon that I am lucky to have a memory of Lucille at one of her last teaching jobs in a one room country school. I will explain.

In the spring of 1961 we moved from Blevins Street to Peaceful Pines sub in Winterfield. This meant a change of school for me. In the fall I climbed on the bus driven by Melvin Berkompas and went to the local two-room Grandon School. I was in the sixth grade.

I met the bus on Haskell Lake Road at a point which was the middle of nowhere along the gravel road to Leota. My mom took me there each morning and met me each afternoon. There was very little traffic on the gravel road other than Michigan Gas Storage trucks and sometimes others involved in the oil and gas fields. During the school year of 1961-62, each morning, without fail and like clock-work, Lucille Prielipp in her trusty sedan came our way. She waved at us as she passed by, on her way to the one-room school at Leota where she was the teacher.

In the spring of 1962 the kids from the Grandon School climbed on Mel’s bus and traveled to spend a day with the kids at the Leota School. We sat in on their classes in the morning, ate our sack lunches at noon and played baseball all the afternoon, Grandon vs. Leota. I do not recall who won.
What I do recall were the great differences between our oil and gas tax-dollar rich two-room school with two teachers, four bathrooms, a lunchroom in the basement which served free hot lunches; and Leota’s old one-room wooden structure with a wood burning stove for heat, a toilet out back and water in a pail by the door.

Our schools may have been physically vastly different, but one thing is certain. The quality of our teachers and the education children in each of these school districts received was the best, on a par with schools anywhere. Lucille Prielipp was, I believe, the last teacher at Leota. Most, country schools consolidated with larger districts by 1964, and Leota did so earlier.

Lucille Prielipp was the only woman on the 1967 school board, replacing long time member Novia VandeWarker. Lucille served as the board’s Treasurer.

Lucille Prielipp was the only woman on the 1967 school board, replacing long time member Novia VandeWarker. Lucille served as the board’s Treasurer.

Lucille was always a teacher, beginning at Clare County’s Chaffee Corners School in Greenwood Township in 1936. She was 19 and had received her teaching certificate from Central Michigan College. In 1966 she received her Bachelor’s Degree in teaching. She was instrumental in the beginning of the Clare-Gladwin Day School and served as its principal until her retirement.

Lucille remained involved in teaching, volunteering at the local school’s reading program. She pursued her love of education well into her 80’s. She served on the Marion School Board for several terms and as the Winterfield Twp. Clerk. She was almost a lifelong member of the EverReady Club and has sewn many a quilt and crocheted many items from doilies to afghans, for both family and charity.

Her excellent memory was greatly appreciated by the Marion Area Historical Society of which she is a past president. She was also an able demonstrator of the museum’s bean sorter, an item she knew well from her youth.

Lucille Prielipp certainly led a life well lived. She will be long remembered and missed by her large family and this community. R.I.P. Mrs. Prielipp.

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