Joni "Babe" M. Lillis, age 83, of Eben Junction and formerly of Boyne City, died on Tuesday morning, Jan. 24, 2012, at the Tendercare Health Center in Munising.
Babe was born Nov. 18, 1928, in Detroit, to Charles and Mary (Tomasco) Lowman. She graduated from St. Phillip Neri in Detroit and went on to work several different jobs. One of her favorites was being a professional singer on WXYZ Radio.
Babe was working at Shawi Olsen and Dimmer C.P.A. firm when she met the love of her life, Dale. She always said that when he said "Hello" the first time she knew he was the one. They married on June 27, 1953, and lived in St. Clair Shores, Mich., and started raising their family. In 1965, she moved with her husband and five children to Boyne City, where she had one more daughter. She was fortunate to be a stay-at-home mom and taught her children the skills they would use to keep house and be on their own.
Babe remained in Boyne City until just after she lost Dale. In 1991, she moved down to Coldwater, near her oldest son, Chuck. Babe started a whole new chapter of her life and was there for 17 years. She was involved in church functions and was an inspiration to people when she became an amputee in 2002 and still had such a positive outlook. That positive outlook would be tested again in 2007 when she became a double amputee. Rather than throw in the towel, Babe took up roots and replanted them in the U.P. with daughter Heidi and her husband, Tim, and family for the remainder of her life. Mobility was hampered, but she still made new friends and inspired more people as they experienced her positive attitude and sheer strong will taking care of herself while being totally wheelchair bound.
Babe loved the casino and she became very adept at computers and enjoyed the world that the Internet opened for her being a homebound person. Facebook opened up a whole new horizon for her. Those who knew Babe well also knew she loved to tell how Mickey Mouse was her long lost twin as they shared the same exact date of birth. Her sense of humor was part of her charisma that will live on. Babe had a strong devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus for her entire life.
Babe was preceded in death by her husband, Dale; sons, Michael Patrick Lillis and Lawrence Michael Lillis; her parents, Charles and Mary Lowman; a sister, Claire; her parents-in-law, Charles and Eva Lillis; and brothers-in-law, Douglas Lillis and Douglas Hovingh.
Babe is survived by children: Charles (Jayne) Lillis of Coldwater, Mich., David (Marcia) Lillis of Lake Orion, Mich., Sue (Mike) Wassenberg of Berkley, Mich., and Heidi (Tim "T.I.M") Swajanen of Eben Junction; grandchildren, Bethany Lillis, Jessie Lillis, James Johnson, Brian Johnson, Brandon Lillis, Matthew Lillis, Ryan Wassenberg, Lisa Wassenberg, Kylie Wassenberg, Betty Jo Swajanen and Breanna Swajanen; siblings, Robert (Char) Lowman, Patricia (Rupert) Cooke, Eileen Jameison and Geraldine Lowman; sisters-in-law, Arlene Lillis and Audrey Hovingh; and numerous nieces and nephews.
A memorial Mass will be celebrated by the Rev. Jacek Wytklo at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 18, at St. Rita's Catholic Church in Trenary, Mich. Interment will be at the Maple Lawn Cemetery in Boyne City sometime in the spring.
Babe's obituary and guestbook may be viewed and signed at www.bowermanfuneralhome.net.