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Elma’s life began Aug. 25, 1930, in Eau Claire, Michigan. She spent her childhood in Eau Claire and graduated from Benton Harbor High School. Elma lived most of her life in Southwest Michigan.

She worked in accounting for several businesses including Fairmont Homes, Watervliet Hospital and Hartford Fruit Exchange to name a few. Elma loved to help people and it showed in the countless volunteer hours she gave as a Girl Scout Leader, helping with Venetian Fest, North Berrien Historical Society, and Michigan Blood. When Elma wasn’t working or volunteering you could find her relaxing with a good book or solving a sudoku puzzle.

Elma’s greatest joy came in spending time with her loving family which includes: seven children, Carole (Michael) Kiernan, Catherine (Rick) Jackson, Curtis (Robin) VanLoon, Craig VanLoon, Christopher (Karen) VanLoon, Corinne VanLoon, and Carla (Ken) King; 10 grandchildren, Jason (Laura) Kiernan, Jared Carlisle, Jordan Carlisle, Leslie (Josh) Lillie, Matthew (Angela) Andrews, Christopher VanLoon II, Nichole (Josh) Hilligoss, CJ VanLoon, Rachel (Jacob) Costilla, and Ethan King; eight great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews.

Elma died Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023 at Corewell Health St. Joseph.

She is preceded in death by a granddaughter, Shawna Tober; her parents Claire and Mildred (Lampson) Jennings; two brothers, Fay Jennings and Judd Jennings; and two sisters, Leah Tonkin and Rena Mae Jennings.

Friends may visit with Elma’s family Friday, Sept. 8, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Hutchins Funeral Home in Watervliet. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Saturday, Sept. 9, at 11 a.m. at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Watervliet.

Memorials may be made to North Berrien Historical Society or Caring Circle Hospice. You are invited to leave a message of comfort for Elma’s family at


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