Shirley Ann (O’Connell) Savela

GREENLAND, Mich. – Shirley Ann (O’Connell) Savela, a woman of deep faith, passed away on April 1st, 2014.

An April 11 visitation will be held in St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Rockland, Mich., at 11 a.m. followed by a noon funeral service.

Shirley was born November 18, 1923 in Greenland; she was the last surviving child of Robert and Gertrude (Amos) O’Connell’s family of five girls and two boys. Shirley lived a 90-year life filled with significant changes. Those who knew Shirley enjoyed her grace, dignity, and care for all living things. Her commitment and kindness to friends and family are memories that will be treasured forever.

Shirley enjoyed an active youth in Greenland running, ice skating, tap dancing, singing and cheerleading before graduating from Mass High School in 1941. She worked in Detroit at the beginning of World War II in both civilian and defense companies before joining the Woman’s Air Corp. By serving our country doing communications work in the WAC she became a member of what is today thankfully and respectfully referred to as “the greatest generation.”

Upon returning from the war, she enrolled and enjoyed attending Nazareth College, in Kalamazoo studying journalism and playing on the basketball team. She returned to the Mass/Greenland area and married William (Bill) Savela in 1947. They proudly raised two sons and three daughters and through her example taught them the value of family and education.

She enjoyed traveling, often to visit family and friends around North America. One of Shirley and Bill’s most memorable trips included a first and only visit to Washington DC where these WWII veterans visited the National Cathedral, Arlington Cemetery and Mount Vernon.

In 2005, Shirley was preceded in death by her husband, Bill, after 58 years of marriage.

She is survived by their five children, Mary Cooley, Nancy (Ron) Hoffman, Rose (Morris) Trewin, Rick (Kay) Savela, Bill (Shannon) Savela; and 10 grandchildren, Kristopher (Stacey) Savela, Derek (Kate) Savela, Allie Savela, Michelle Cooley, Jacqui (Brandyn) Adrian, Erick Hoffman, Paul (Heidi) Hoffman, Melissa (David) Bakovic, Jeffrey (Danette) Savela, and Jason (Amy) Savela. Additionally, she was blessed with eight great grandchildren.

Burial will be in the Maple Grove Cemetery in Greenland during a memorial service later this spring.

The Cane Funeral Home is assisting the family. Friends may view Shirley’s obituary and leave messages of remembrance at