Marcia Elders peacefully died at home in Vi at Bentley Village on Monday. One of her favorite poems instructs us not to weep at her grave because she is not there. She is: “… a thousand winds that blow,” and “the diamond glints of sun on snow.” True to who she was, Marcia would never abandon those she loved.
This, of course, is fitting, because she counted her time spent growing up on a farm as one of her blessings. She was free, in her words: “to roam and wander, pick wildflowers, sit under a tree by a stream, and be surrounded by animals of all temperaments.”
Marcia was born on September 1, 1936 in Holland, Michigan. Her parents were Harold Streur and Melva (Wolters) Renner. Her world slowly grew from a one roomed schoolhouse in West Michigan to nursing school in Evanston, Illinois. Marcia went on to earn a bachelor’s degree, and later a master’s degree, in nursing from Grand Valley State University. Marcia worked in a variety of medical settings in Holland, Michigan during her career: hospital, doctor’s office, health department, hospice, and retired from teaching in the Hope College-Calvin College nursing program. She was proud of her accomplishments and knowledge that she was a good nurse.
Her life motto is taken from the Bible, “What does God require of you, but to love mercy, do justice, and walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8. Those who knew her will attest that she lived a life remarkably close to those standards. Along the way she formed many wonderful friendships, in recent years in Bentley Village, and appreciated the beauty of diversity. Marcia’s sharp mind was always accompanied by a natural empathy and concern for others. She was kind and welcoming to everyone she met.
Of course, Marcia’s self-confessed “gift-for-gab” was on full display in any gathering. She loved to talk and tell stories. She would tilt her head back with a sparkle in her eye and laugh with ease. As she told it, her report card too many times said: “Marcia does good work, but she talks too much.” A lesson she said she never learned, but no one who knew her complained.
There are the siblings with whom she shared a great many fun times over her lifetime: her sisters Karen (and Roger) Grinwis and Kristi (and Terry) Slenk and her brother, Wayne (and Toni Lynn Craft) Streur.
Marcia married Ken Armstrong right out of nursing school and had two children, Sara Armstrong and Jeff Armstrong, who she said enriched her life more than she could have imagined. Marcia also enjoyed a close relationship with her extended, Chris Armstrong (daughter-in-law) and Scot Reynolds (son-in-law). She loved and was proud of her grandchildren: Dr. Trevor Armstrong, Tyler Armstrong. Caitlin Armstrong Reed, and Tamsen Armstrong Reed.
Later, she married Dr. George Smit, who predeceased her, but she continued to enjoy a close relationship with her stepchildren, Michele Smit Reynolds, Steve Smit, Diane Smit Merlo, and Pamela Smit Keith throughout her life, and through them, her numerous step-grandchildren.
In her later years she found and married her soulmate, Al Elders whose presence enriched her life and whose mind was one with her in so many important ways. Through everything, he was there, and they were there for each other, each providing support and love when needed, but always without limit. She had a close and loving relationship with her stepchildren, Sharon (and Robert) Schreur, Gregory (and Nikki) Elders, and Robert Elders and Lalo Vela, and step-grandchildren Ethan, Collin, Kendra, Trevor, Justin, Jacob, Reese, Londyn, Stormie, and Blaze.
Marcia also enjoyed her social connections and always strived to maintain them. This included her many friends in the Bentley Village community with whom she shared many meals, played Mahjong, and enjoyed social events. The support and special relationships she enjoyed at Bentley brought her much joy and fulfillment.
In addition to her parents and late husband, Marcia was preceded in death by a step-grandchild, Mathew Keith, stepmother Angelina Lam Streur, step-son-in-law Joe Merlo and step-son-in-law Harry Keith.
In order to protect the health of others, a celebration of Marcia’s life will be offered virtually. Please visit www.fullernaples.com to share your memories and leave comments for the family. In lieu of flowers, Marcia requested that a donation be made to Hospice of Holland, Avow Hospice (Naples), or Habitat for Humanity of Collier County. An outdoor celebration of life is being planned in West Michigan this summer. Contact family for more information.
And just remember, the next time you feel a gentle evening breeze, the warmth of a morning sun hitting your face, or the frost nipping your nose, just smile and say: “Hello Marcia.”
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