Polzin, Bertha Elizabeth (Ridgely)


Bertha Elizabeth Ridgely Polzin, 91, died May 29, 2011. Bertha was born December 17, 1919 to Dow A and Pearl C. (Forney) Ridgely of Parkersburg, Illinois. She attended a one room school house where her father taught. Bertha left her home in Parkersburg after finishing the 8th grade and attended high school in Charleston, Illinois. She graduated from Eastern Illinois University in 1943 with a degree in elementary education. At that time, the cost of a college term was $18.00 and Bertha had a $6.00 scholarship from Richland County (IL). While attending college, Bertha nannied and did housekeeping where she learned much about three of her lifelong passions: children, cooking and entertaining. She earned a Master’s Degree from CMU in 1969. Bertha was recruited to teach in the growing, bustling city of Saginaw, Michigan, and began her 27 year teaching career at the “new” Fuerbringer Elementary School in the fall of 1943. She retired in 1982 after teaching at Hemmeter Elementary School in Saginaw Township (MI) for many years. The parents of one of Miss Ridgely’s first grade students (David Morford) introduced Bertha to the love of her life, Russell L. Polzin. David never quite got over that. Bertha married Russell on August 15, 1947 at the Walnut Grove Church of the Brethren in Parkersburg, IL. She and Russ built their own home in Saginaw. They raised their children, Franklin (Candy), Stephanie, and Elizabeth (Jim Kinsey) in that home. Bertha lived there happily for almost 60 years. Bert and Russ enjoyed gardening, traveling, entertaining, reading, cooking, participating in their churches, and caring for their family. Bertha also enjoyed sewing, quilting, baking, canning and caring for others. Bertha tenderly cared for Russell as his health declined. She continued to live independently and well following his death Christmas Eve, 1993. Bertha attended the Midland (MI) Church of the Brethren, where she was loved and cherished. With Russell, Bertha attended St. Paul Lutheran Church (WELS) in Saginaw as well. The family always worshipped together, alternating weekly between St. Paul’s and the Midland Church of the Brethren. Bertha was very active in the Michigan District of the Church of the Brethren. She greatly enjoyed attending the church’s Annual Conference with her children and grandchildren. Bertha was happiest when visited by her family and friends. She always enjoyed the teaching stories of Frank (Saginaw), Stephanie (Prince William County, VA), and Libby (Lake Odessa, MI). Bertha’s son-in-law, Jim Kinsey, and daughter-in-law, Candy Polzin were very special people to her as was her niece, Mimi (Dave) Polzin. Bertha was also proud of her grandchildren: Lisa (Doug) Callaway, Caledonia, MI; Jennifer (David) Riccius, Ionia, MI; Nate (Amanda) Polzin, Saginaw, MI; Jennifer (Jason) Deweese, Hemlock, MI; Benjamin (his friend, Katie Mack), Richmond, IN; Sarah (Lance) Ransom, Mt. Pleasant, MI; and Noah (Courtney) Kinsey, Long Beach, CA. Bertha looked forward to watching her 7 great-grandchildren play and grow: Alexa and Bailey Jo Callaway, Anna and Grace Riccius, and Russell, Cameron, and Daisy May Deweese. Bertha and her family kept in close contact with her Illinois family over the years. As her ability to travel lessened, she enjoyed many caring visits from Ridgely nieces, nephews, and great nieces and nephews and niece Carol Ann Polzin. Bertha also enjoyed her friends at Michigan Retired Teachers’ Association, Delta Kappa Gamma (Woman of the Year-- 1996), her 500 club, and hosting the making of “Rock Candy” for 50 years. A special thanks to Bertha’s wonderful caregivers whose devoted attention allowed her to stay in her own home, happy and content, for much longer than she could have on her own. Bertha was predeceased by her husband, Russell, and 3 brothers and 3 sisters: Clayborne (Alice) Ridgely, Ilene Ridgely, Irene Ridgely, Kenneth (Mabel) Ridgely, Daniel Ridgely, and Carol Marie Ridgely. She is survived by a sister-in-law: Faye (Daniel) Ridgely. Bertha was also predeceased by 3 brothers-in-law and 3 sisters-in-law: Wilbur Polzin, Mildred Polzin, Clarence (Meletta) Polzin, Raymond (Isabelle) Polzin, Ruth (J. Robert) Fagley, and Dorothy Polzin. Truly a beautiful life has been well lived. Bertha was fond of saying “I worked hard all my life, but I don’t work hard anymore” and “I’ve had a wonderful life.“ Her life will be celebrated at the Midland Church of the Brethren, 1717 East Sugnet Road, Midland, MI at 11:00 a.m., Saturday, June 4, 2011. Visitation will take place from 2:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Friday at W. L. Case & Co., 4480 Mackinaw Road, and Saturday at church from 10:00 a.m. until time of the service. Bertha loved flowers and enjoyed her gardens. Those preferring to make a memorial to her memory may wish to consider CROP, Camp Brethren Heights (Rodney, MI), The Midland Church of the Brethren, The Church in Drive: a Church of the Brethren (Saginaw, MI), or the Saginaw Township Education Foundation. www.casefuneralhome.com