Gloria A. Deal, age 78, passed away in her home with her family nearby on April 20th, 2023. She was a beloved wife, mother, nana, sister, aunt, and friend. She was full of light and love, had a strong faith in God, and truly lived to serve others. Her caring spirit, selflessness, patience, humility, kindness, generous and giving heart touched all of those who knew her.
Born in Highland Park, MI in 1944, she grew up in Detroit and was the oldest of three girls. She enjoyed summers at the family cottage in Hubbard Lake, MI, where she spent her time playing in the water, going on the family’s rowboat, being outside, and fishing. After graduating from Thomas M. Cooley High School in 1962, she went on to get her Elementary Education degree from Western Michigan University, graduating in 1967. Teaching was her passion, and she taught Kindergarten for 30 years, of which 25 years were at Kellogg Elementary School, Hickory Corners, MI. During her career, she won the Education Partners Award as Kellogg Elementary Teacher of the Year from the Gull Lake Education Association. She had a gift for capturing the attention of children and making learning fun. Her “Letter People”, Community Jobs Unit, and incorporation of her love of nature into her teaching were always a big hit!
While in college, she was at a friend’s wedding and met the love of her life. After dating off and on, she married her husband, Bob, in June of 1968 in Fraser, MI. They celebrated their 54th wedding anniversary last year. Bob and Gloria lived in Detroit for a few years before relocating to Richland, MI to raise their two kids, James and Terri. After retirement, they were able to spend time during the winters at their place in Placida Harbour Condominiums in Placida, FL. They enjoyed walks around the seawall with frequent dolphin and manatee sightings, boat rides, beach walks, bird watching, sunsets, and many family gatherings.
She was very engaging as a mom and loved to be there for her children, supporting them in any way she could. While the kids were growing up, she would read to them, bake with them, encourage their imagination, attend sports or club activities, take them swimming or to the Bird Sanctuary. This continued as Gloria became a Nana to her grandchildren. She loved getting on their level. With her grandkids, she would play on the floor with blocks, swing, make art, build sandcastles at the beach, and play games/cards. She also loved visiting them and watching them play sports or perform in dance recitals/plays. Her family was incredibly important to her. Her other hobbies and interests were reading, sewing (quilts and cross stitch), gardening, watercolor painting and sketching, finding shells, meeting friends for a meal out, and traveling to many of the National Parks with her husband and friends. She also loved watching Downton Abbey. This show became a great comfort to her as her illness progressed, and she enjoyed watching all the episodes on repeat!
Besides family and teaching, Gloria’s other primary passion was her belief in God. She developed a strong Christian faith and was a devoted believer, who often took Bible classes and enjoyed learning about God and Jesus. In 2002, she combined her love of God and teaching by becoming a member of a committee that started the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) program at Gracespring Bible Church. She went on to be the Moppets Leader and then a Mentor Mom before retiring from the program. It was a success and still runs out of the church today. She spent a lot of her time volunteering at the Church and in the MOPS program. Her faith was her center, and she lived her life pouring love into others, always putting their needs before her own. She humbly modeled Christ to everyone who knew her and exemplified the love and will of God.
Gloria is survived by her husband James R. (Bob), her daughter Terri Johnson and her children, Aiden and Ansley, and her grandchildren from her son, Caroline, Jackson and Olivia Deal, her sister Nancy (John) Ocwieja and her family, her sister Mary Trafton and her family, as well as many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her son, James M. Deal and her parents Eli and Anna Serbu.
A memorial service to celebrate Gloria’s life will be 12:00 noon on Friday, May 19th at the Farley Estes Dowdle Richland Chapel, 9170 East D. Ave. (M-89), Richland, MI 49083 where the family will receive friends from 11:00 a.m. until the time of the service. The service will be LiveStreamed and may be viewed at https://vimeo.com/event/3402510/abfd4a6707 . Expressions of sympathy may be made in whichever way(s) you wish. Should family or friends desire, memorial contributions in honor of Gloria may be sent to the Gracespring Bible Church, the Kellogg Elementary School, or the Alzheimer’s Association (www.alz.org.) Personal messages for the family may be placed here at www.farleyestesdowdle.com.