Avis Marie Ward
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TRAVERSE CITY - Avis Marie Ward, age 72, of Traverse City, entered into eternal life in Heaven on Thursday, October 15, 2020 at Munson Medical Center in the loving care of her family, following a brief illness.
Avis was born on January 11, 1948 to Rev. Claude and Dora Doris (Bellen) Overholt in Owosso, MI. In 1948, she moved, with her parents, to Kansas where her father served as a pastor in the Pilgrim Holiness Church. During her childhood, she resided in various areas of Kansas throughout his ministry there. In 1967, Avis moved back to Michigan to attend Owosso College, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1970. Avis married John "Jack" A. Ward on May 29, 1976 in Henderson, MI and they remained married until his death in 2018.
After graduating from college, Avis was employed as a housekeeper by Congressman and Mrs. Alvin Bentley in Owosso. She owned a sewing and alterations business in Owosso, AWards Unlimited, for a number of years. In 1989, Avis found her true passion in serving as a secretary at Brady Center Wesleyan Church (Oakley, MI), later Cadillac Wesleyan Church (Cadillac, MI), and finally Bayview Wesleyan Church (Traverse City), retiring in 2014.
Avis' main interest was loving and encouraging others. She took great joy in being a greeter at her church and sharing her smile, laugh, and hugs with everyone. In her later years, "Grandma Avis" volunteered at the nursery at church, rocking babies, singing lullabies, and just sharing her love. Avis loved music, serving as a pianist and vocal musician at the churches she attended throughout her life. She enjoyed being creative and was a life-long seamstress, crafter, and artist.
Avis' faith in Jesus was the foundation of her life. She was a member of Bayview Wesleyan Church, where she was actively involved in many ministries. Avis served in the North Michigan District of the Wesleyan Church in a variety of roles including Wesleyan Women International Director, Member-at-large of the District Board of Ministerial Development, and Member-at-large of the District Board of Administration.
Avis is survived by her children; Kelley (Jim) Sterk, Traverse City, Rebecca Call, Owosso, John (Kellie) Ward III, Ashley, MI, Jackie (Eric) Mueller, Laytonsville, MD, grandchildren; Joshua Ward, Pflugerville, Texas, Erica (Donald) Zepeda, Courtney (Steve) Jones, both of Owosso, Duane (Molly) Call, Ovid, Justin Sterk, Grand Rapids, Jordan (Brittany) Sterk, Owosso, Allison (Michael) Gute, Chesaning, Derek and Heather Ward, both of Ashley, MI, Grace and Carlyn Mueller, both of Laytonsville, MD, great-grandchildren; Reagan Ward, Pflugerville, Texas, Halima Fouad, Arianna and Kinsley Zepeda, all of Owosso, Connor and Charlie Call, both of Ovid, MI, Deacon Smith, Owosso and Brooks Gute, Chesaning, brothers Paul Overholt, Oakley, John (Deanna) Overholt, Olathe, KS, and sister Rebecca (Jim) Schwarzkopf, Henderson, many nieces, nephews, and friends. Avis was preceded in death by her parents, husband, John, and son, Rick Ward.
A memorial service for Avis will be held at 11:00 am on Saturday, October 24, 2020 at the Bayview Wesleyan Church with a visitation beginning at 9:00 am. Bayview Wesleyan Church is located at 720 Wayne St. in Traverse City.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be directed to Bayview Wesleyan Church, 720 Wayne Street, Traverse City, MI 49684.
Please share a memory with Avis's family by visiting her tribute page at www.reynolds-jonkhoff.com. The Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home and Cremation Services is serving the family.