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EASTHAMPTON, MA Louise McKemmie Micka, 100, passed peacefully on Friday, October 13, 2023 with the comfort of her family at her home. She was a feisty one, mostly with family, but genuinely very loving to all. She believed in and modeled eating right and sleeping right to maintain good health. She never smoked and only occasionally had a drink. As a role model, she survived breast cancer, spinal meningitis twice, as well as a stroke.
She considered herself a caregiver to her family and could not leave them too soon, because “we needed her!” Cherished by so many, she was born September 1, 1923 to John and Ebba (Tidlund) McKemmie in Pelham, MA the oldest of 11 children. As a caregiver, she began with her 4 brothers and 6 sisters who were all raised in Amherst, MA (Barbara, #9, was her special charge); continued when raising her 5 children in Easthampton; pitched in with her 11 grandchildren all in western Mass, and enjoyed visits with her 14 great-grandchildren.
Education was very important to Louise. She attended Amherst Public School and graduated as one of four valedictorians in her 1941 graduating class. She attended Massachusetts Agricultural College, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude, in Home Economics Education. Upon graduation she taught in Greenfield; met her husband square dancing in South Amherst and married Samuel Micka, a farmer turned Certified Public Accountant, of Easthampton in 1946. Formal teaching was put on hold, but she continued teaching sewing to young 4-H girls in Easthampton as she raised first family: Sylvia, Margaret, and Stephen. When Steve started kindergarten in 1958, she was hired to teach home economics at Easthampton High School which continued until the second family, two additional daughters, Sara and Marilyn joined the family. She and Sam insisted and supported all five children attending college and getting Bachelor’s Degrees. We listened to our mama and even went on to get advanced degrees on our own!
In the community, Louise was involved with the Cooperative Extension Service and the programs offered by the Hampshire County Extension Service. Making slip covers, draperies, canning, freezing, rug braiding, chair caning were all projects she was engaged in with the Park Hill Homemakers extension service club. The most notable project, however, was being the chair of the Favorite Recipes scholarship cookbook committee to raise scholarship money “for girls majoring in home economics at the University of Massachusetts.” There were three printings in 1957 and each of her daughters (and many others) was given their own copy with the note written on the inside cover: “For_________(name), for your wedding shower – Use this WELL. Love, Mom.” She loved using capital letters for emphasis! The cookbooks have all been and continue to be used WELL!
Even though Louise and Sam were married in the South Amherst Congregational Church, their membership was in the Easthampton Congregational Church. Both she and Sam were on many committees over decades of membership as well as Sam serving as treasurer and Louise the church school superintendent. She introduced the concept of Learning Community where she taught the main Sunday School lesson to all the school age children following time in the regular sanctuary service. Then the children got to choose which class they wanted to go to enhance the lesson: art, games….Marg – Sara _ Marilyn
After church were Sundays at Grams! The trip from the church to Park Hill was a 10-minute car ride with the Polish Polka time playing on WHMP. Walking in the house was the aroma of the roast in oven. Onion dip was made, in the early years by children, then taken over by grandchildren in the same brown bowl. Dinners around the big dining room table were one of the highlights of the week and sorely missed by Louise as her family grew larger and busier with their own lives.
Living on the Micka farm when she married was a given….. and a way of life. The first years were in a two room second floor apartment in the farm house. When Sylvia and Margaret were born, it was time to build their own house on a corner of the farm. She and Sam and his brother Paul were the main builders of their Cape Cod home with the green shutters. In her later years, especially when she was wheelchair-bound, she used to love looking out over the fields and watching the haying of the fields, the snowmobiles, the quads with family working or having fun. The farm mantra was “work hard, play hard.” The legacy lives on! And, she liked to keep tabs on when her only son was home on the farm or on vacation!
Louise was the matriarch of the homestead with Sam and their five children. Louise loved her home and reiterated over and over that she didn’t want to leave the house that “she, Sammy and Pauly had built”…..except feet first! She met her goal remaining in her home until her death and indeed did leave feet first.
In addition to leaving her 5 children Sylvia (William) Smith, Margaret (Robert) LaPalme, Stephen (Claire Varelas) Micka, Sara Gross, and Marilyn (Thomas) Pickunka, “Gram” leaves 10 grandchildren: Heather Wynne (Timothy Durrin); Beth Vettori, Janette (Matthew) Zarotny, Melissa Boudreau, Jeremiah (Jessica) Micka, Kristin Gross (Maya Kerstetter), Michael Gross, Sean Gross, Jordan Pickunka (Kylie Kolodziej), Katelyn Pickunka (Indie Guame); 2 step-grandchildren Lindsay (Tanner) Watson and Lauren (Tyler) Brin. “Gigi” also leaves 9-great-grandchildren: Taylor Vettori, Carter Vettori, Benjamin Zarotny, Liam Zarotny, Clover Wynne, Pyper Boudreau, Izabella Boudreau, Jackson Micka and Rileigh Micka; and 5 step great-grandchildren: Maison, Atticus, Marla and Asher Watson, and River Durrin. Louise also leaves her sole surviving sister Virginia Downie of Westfield, MA, sisters-in-law Audrey McKemmie of Greenfield, MA, Anne Kingsbury of Northampton, MA and Christine Pike of Troy, NY, several cousins, nieces, and nephews.
In addition to being pre-deceased by her parents John and Ebba McKemmie, she was pre-deceased by her husband Samuel Micka in 1988; son-in-law Michael Gross; granddaughter Stephanie Micka; sisters (spouses) Dorothy (Harold) Bray, Ruth (Edward) Miller, Edith (Norman) Campbell), Barbara (Louis) Jacque, Janet (William) Fraser; brothers John (Grayce), Jr. Richard, George and Thomas (Catherine) McKemmie; brother-in-law Francis Downie; sisters-in-law Susan (Orman) Glazier, Bert (Charles) Sabo, Katherine (Donald) Stiles; brothers-in-law Paul (Mary) Micka, Edward (Priscilla) Micka, John Kingsbury and Norman Pike; and several aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews.
The Micka family would like to thank all the very caring and wonderful caregivers that helped mom over the years. A special thank you also to Mercy Life PACE program for all the support provided in keeping mom at home.
Calling hours are at the Mitchell Funeral Home, 15 Park Street, Easthampton, MA 01027 on Wednesday, Oct. 18 from 4-6 p.m. Funeral will be at the Easthampton Congregational Church , 112 Main Street, Easthampton, MA 01027 on Thursday, Oct. 19 at 10:00 a.m.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Easthampton Congregational Church Memorial Fund for college scholarships, 112 Main Street, Easthampton, MA 01027; or one of Louise’s favorite church school superintendent projects: Heifer International 1 World Avenue, Little Rock, AR 72202 or heifer.org.