Emma May Skinner Makinen was born in Kansas City, Missouri, on December 19, 1923. She died at the Hiland Cottage Hospice in Petoskey, Michigan, on October 4, 2020. She was married to William “Bill” Makinen (1925-2013) for 66 years. They had four children, Marty, Jerry, Kitty (Cortez), and Alan. Emma has six grandchildren (Angie, Dana, Eero, Jasmine, Kaitlyn, and Nate) and four great-grandchildren (Emma, Isla, Lily, and Remington).
She grew up in Hazel Park, Michigan, and lived in Madison Heights, Redford Township, Farmington Hills, Boyne City (Walloon Lake), and Petoskey, Michigan. Emma graduated from Hazel Park High School in 1942 and Central Michigan College in 1946. She earned a varsity letter at Central, playing basketball and volleyball. She was a teacher in Mount Pleasant and Flat Rock. Emma served on the Farmington Public Schools Board of Education for 12 years, first elected in 1972. While on the Board, she led a successful effort to pass a code of ethics, promoted girls’ sports as well as girls’ science, technology, engineering, and math studies, and advocated for the use of computers.
She was a passionate birder and enjoyed nature hikes and wildflower identification. She was an environmentalist before that term was invented. She was active in the American Association of University Women, book clubs, foreign relations discussions, human rights, and Elder Hostels.
A great joy of her life was spending “summers” (May-October) at the family cottage, “Valhalla,” on Walloon Lake. Emma first visited Walloon Lake as a camp counselor in the 1940s. Later, Emma and Bill bought their own cottage on Wildwood Harbor and adopted the Valhalla name after the resort was sold.
A memorial for Emma will be held at a later date at Valhalla and at the Makinen Family Grave site in Kaleva, Michigan.
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