Eleanor Grams

Eleanor Louise Grams

Monday, December 13th, 1926 - Monday, June 1st, 2020
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Eleanor L. Grams passed away and went to be with the Lord on Monday, June 1, 2020 at the age of 93.

Eleanor was born December 13, 1926 in Benton Harbor, MI to August and Lydia Menchinger, the oldest of three children. At an early age she learned to help do things around her parent’s farm, and in time became quite adept at moving livestock, driving a tractor and the other necessary things required to keep a farm running. She had a great love of music and learned to play first piano, then organ. Mom also enjoyed teaching her younger sister, Shirley and helping her to learn as they grew up together. Her youngest sister, Nancy, came along later and Mom was able to set examples as an adult that Nancy could use during her life. Mom enjoyed attending Benton Harbor Public Schools and excelled in her studies, becoming proficient at bookkeeping, which would help later in running the family business after getting married to the love of her life, Joel G. Grams. She had accepted Joel’s proposal of marriage and they became engaged before Joel left as a member of the Army Corp of Engineers for duty in the European War Theater. Eleanor graduated from Benton Harbor High School in 1943 and went to work for Ross Carrier in Benton Harbor during the war years, like so many women and men did stateside to support the Allied troops overseas and secure victory over the Axis forces. She was also waiting for Joel to come home from Europe so they could be married and start a family, build a small business and have a long, happy and wonderful life together for over fifty-six years.

After three years of waiting, not knowing if they might ever see each other again due to the war, expressing their feelings only by mail, they were both ready to get married! Eleanor and Joel were wed January 12, 1946. With Dad working first at Sears, then starting a home construction company, they started to build a family that resulted in three children, Donna, Kathy and Joel. Mom was in charge of the “home front” and she kept a tidy, well-run home with delicious meals and fantastic baked desserts always in supply. Mom was active in her children’s public-school education, involved in the PTA and other school support organizations. She helped her children as they developed the love for learning and knowledge that she had always had. Mom and Dad loved to take the kids on vacation, with Dad driving and Mom managing the three kids in the back seat! With trips west to California, north to the Upper Peninsula and Canada, east to Washington D.C. and south to Florida, the family learned they lived in a beautiful nation.As Dad developed their business, Mom kept the books, managed accounts and supplemented Dad’s design talents with her own abilities in decorating and home style and well, just plain hard work! They were a successful team, providing beautiful homes to many families in the Twin Cities area. As Dad transitioned from active construction to the real estate business and with the kids grown up, Mom went to work as an executive assistant with Whirlpool for a number of years and enjoyed her time there.

Eleanor was a lifelong and faithful member of the First Church of God, Saint Joseph, first by growing up in a loving and faith-centered family, and then providing that love to her children. She was active in all aspects of church life including mission outreach and Bible study. With her beautiful voice she added enthusiasm as she sang in various choirs and played piano and organ for services. She and Dad enjoyed many groups in the church, especially the Prime Time activities. Mom and Dad developed lifelong friendships with other church families and dedicated much of their time and energy to serve the church in many other capacities. The worship and fellowship that First Church of God provided was always central to their lives, along with the love for their family.

In the last few years, Mom developed a very special and meaningful friendship with her caregiver and companion, Laurie Springs, developing a bond that was quite remarkable. Our family wishes to thank Laurie for all her help, humor, support and sharing of faith with Mom. It meant the world to our family.
The family would also like to thank Caring Circle Hospice and the staff and guest assistants at Caretel Inns for providing care to mom over the last year.

Eleanor is survived by her children; Donna (Richard) Sharp, Kathleen (James) Cena, and Joel (Judith) Grams; granddaughter, Susan (Jacob) Nieten; her sisters, Shirley Zick and Nancy Case; and brother-in-law, Stanley (Charlotte) Grams. Also, nieces and nephews, Cheryl, Debbie, Garry, Matthew, Jason, James, Sandy, Lois Ann and Amelia.

Eleanor was preceded in death by her husband, Joel G. Grams; parents, August and Lydia Menchinger; brothers-in-law, Harry Zick and Steven Case and sister and brother-in-law, Estella and Frank Sellars; brother-in-law, Allen B. Grams and sister-in-law, Jane Grams and nephew, Terry Grams.

On Wednesday, June 10, 2020, the family will receive guests at Starks and Menchinger Chapel, 2650 Niles Road, St. Joseph, MI. Visitation will be from 10:30AM – 12:00PM. A private family service will follow after the visitation, with Pastors Bob Moss and Bob Confer officiating. Due to the Coronavirus threat, the family is requesting all visitors to the chapel wear an effective face mask and practice appropriate physical distancing. While we want to honor our mother, we want all to be safe while doing so. Starks and Menchinger staff will assist with visitation limits.

Immediate family members will attend a private interment later at Hickory Bluff Cemetery, Stevensville, MI. Memorial contributions may be made to the First Church of God Endowment Fund. Those wishing to leave an online condolence for the family may do so at:
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  • Visitation

    Wednesday, June 10th, 2020 | 10:30am - 12:00pm
    Wednesday, June 10th, 2020 10:30am - 12:00pm
    Starks & Menchinger Chapel
    2650 Niles Rd.
    St. Joseph, MI 49085
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
    Visiting hours are open to the public
  • Service

    Wednesday, June 10th, 2020 |
    Wednesday, June 10th, 2020
    Starks & Menchinger Chapel
    2650 Niles Rd.
    St. Joseph, MI 49085
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
    The Funeral Service is private for family only
  • Interment

    Hickory Bluff Cemetery
    4290 Cleveland Avenue
    Stevensville, MI 49127
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
    Committal Service is private for family only


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Matt Case

Posted at 11:21am
Dearest Grams Family -

I'll always have fond memories visiting Michigan (from Racine, Wisconsin) when I was a kid and making the rounds to each cousin, grandparent, aunt and uncle. It wasn't always easy to see everyone because there are A LOT of Menchingers. But there were tons of great memories from all the visiting we did...well, except for the traveling through Gary, Indiana part...phew! But from whenever we would visit Eleanor and Joel, I have so many distinct and wonderful memories about them. I recall many games of pool in the basement with Joel ( was more like throw the balls into the holes at my age), the smell of fresh baked goods wafting through the house, flowers, a neat and tidy house, watching the Johnny Carson's Tonight Show on that giant television set with the family, seeing Joel do silly magic tricks, and playing with all the kid's board games for hours on end. I still remember one Thanksgiving there when I was probably 6 or 7. There was lots of snow on the ground, Kathy was there, and the spread was huge, the smells were incredible, and the food was amazing! And what I'll always remember about Eleanor and the entire Menchinger family are qualities like; sweet, soft spoken, big heart, peace, wisdom, love, hard working, loyal, and dedicated...especially to each other. I'm very thankful to have seen all these fruits of the spirit of God "in action" in Eleanor's life and the entire family's life. How she and Joel cherished their marriage and transcended that into their children's lives and those around them was a great example for me now as I help raise my family. Thank you Eleanor for the sweet life you lead and for the wonderful example you provided for others around you. It's still playing on...

Marla Ratcliff

Posted at 10:53pm
Eleanor & Joel will always have a special place in my heart. They were good friends with my parents, Al & Rusty Ratcliff. I have great memories from my childhood of going to their house for dinner, and then watching them all play Pinochle or Michigan Rummy. Your Mom was such a beautiful Christian woman, and a great friend to my Mom. What a comfort to me that they are all together in Heaven now, spending time together, sharing stories, & perhaps playing cards! May God comfort you & give the family peace during this difficult time. Marla Ratcliff

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