Virginia C Meyers

May 26th, 1914 to January 3rd, 2014
Virginia C. Meyers, aged 99 years and seven months, died peacefully on January 3, 2014, in her home, surrounded by family and friends. She was born Sarah Virginia Cleland on May 26, 1914, the fourth daughter and youngest child of Elmer Robert and Sarah Jane Cleland of St. Clair, Michigan.

In her teenage years, Virginia worked as a desk clerk at the newly-built St. Clair Inn, just a few blocks from her family home. Later, having moved to Detroit, she was the night clerk at the Dearborn Inn. She made front-page news in Detroit by foiling an armed robbery of the Inn with her quick wit: as the gunmen made their getaway she activated the hotel’s air-raid siren. Virginia enjoyed recounting how the robbers, former employees of the hotel, were so surprised that they dropped the stolen money in the parking lot and were soon apprehended. Returning to St. Clair County to live with her sister Mildred in Port Huron, she worked in customer service at Sears and Roebuck. It was there that she met her husband-to-be, Henry, upon his return from Naval service in World War II. After dating for a number of years they married on December 10, 1951. They met with great entrepreneurial success in expanding the delivery business Henry had started before the war. They constructed a home and nearby warehouse on 11th Avenue, and Virginia left Sears to manage the enlarged business, “Henry L. Meyers Moving and Storage,” which soon became the local Allied Van Lines franchisee. Henry continued to work at Sears until his retirement, and then turned his attention full-time to the moving business.

Henry and Virginia were intrepid and always-curious explorers, traveling the world. They were among the earliest westerners to tour behind the Iron Curtain into the countries of the Soviet Union, and into China not long after. They knew North and South America, most of Asia, and all of Europe, but were perhaps most fond of visiting Henry’s native Germany, from which he had come to America at age 21.

From those travels --and the discovery of mechanical toys and devices not yet readily available in the U.S.-- came part of the inspiration for their locally-famous annual Christmas display, now in its sixth decade. After they decided the yearly theme, Henry would engineer the mechanisms while Virginia would work on the sewing, painting, and artistry. The world travelers always stayed at home during the Christmas season, and it was their tradition to give candy canes to the many children and families who visited to delight in the displays.

To the end, Virginia was blessed with an adventurous and joyful spirit, welcoming others with open arms to come along and enjoy life with her. From time to time she found her way to a lively casino - flying to Las Vegas in earlier years, then bus trips throughout Michigan, and most recently driving “across the creek” (as she would say) to Sarnia’s river-front establishment. Until her final few weeks, she regularly played cards and socialized at the American Legion and the Moose Lodge, and hosted Euchre and dominoes parties at her home. Wherever she went, Virginia had a smile and greeting, being genuinely happy to see everyone she met. She loved children, and was especially delighted with her role as a wise aunt and “Fairy Godmother” to her extended family.

Virginia was an ardent, generous supporter of many local charitable and historic endeavors including the Port Huron Museum, the Edison Depot Museum, the Port Huron Chapter of the American Red Cross, the Senior Citizens’ Center of the Council on Aging, and the American Legion. She was also a long-time member of the Port Huron Quota Club, the First Congregational Church, the Michigan Movers Association, the Moose Lodge, and the Elks.

Henry died in 1991. Virginia was also preceded in death by her sisters, Margaret Cleland, Mae Minor, and Mildred (Ralph) Wakeham, and by her brothers Blanchard (Donna) Cleland and Delmer (Ardell) Cleland.

Virginia is survived by nieces and nephews Duane Wakeham, San Francisco CA; Marilyn Nuss, Ft. Gratiot; Peggy Czech, Tucson AZ, Charlene Palmateer, Wadsworth OH; Gerald Minor, Belton, MO, Harlan Minor, West Branch, MI; Carol Langell, Newark DL; and Robert Cleland, Port Huron. Her numerous surviving grand nieces and nephews include Marsha Birch (St. Clair); Shirley Robertroy (Shelby Township); James Minor, Jr. and Patricia Minor Googe (South Carolina); Donald Nuss (Ft. Gratiot); Kay Caryl (Goodrich, MI); and Robert and Paula Cleland’s daughters, Carrie Keegan, Christina Michaels, and Kathryn Cleland.

The many dear friends who survive include Akie Weintraub, of Port Huron, who was born and raised in Japan, and thought of Virginia as her “American mother.” Virginia greatly appreciated the dedication of Nancy James, her long-time helper and companion and her more recent caregivers as well, Sarah Andrews, Hailey Matthews, Jennifer Wesch.

Her family and friends will miss Virginia’s generous and joyful enthusiasm, her wry sense of humor, and the ever-present twinkle in her eye. Hers was a life well-lived.

Visitation will be Friday, January 10, from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. at Pollock-Randall Funeral Home, 912 Lapeer Avenue, Port Huron. A brief American Legion Auxiliary service will be held at 7 p.m.

The funeral service will be held at the First Congregational Church at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, January 11. The Reverend William Terry will officiate.

Those wishing to make memorial contributions in Virginia’s memory are asked to consider Blue Water Hospice, Port Huron Historical Museum, Charles A. Hammond Post #8, American Legion, First Congregational Church, or another locally-focused charity.

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