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Caroline Tonsor


Caroline Maddox Tonsor, 93, died peacefully, surrounded by her family, on Thursday, May 30, 2019, in Kresge Long-Term Care at United Methodist Retirement Community in Chelsea, Michigan. She lived at UMRC since 2009 with her husband of nearly 65 years, Stephen J. Tonsor III, who predeceased her in 2014.

Born March 10, 1926, in Columbus, Ohio, she was the daughter of Notley Sinclair Maddox and Grace Needham Oliver. During 1931-1932, she lived in Santa Barbara, California, at the home of her aunt and uncle, Edith and Wilbert Needham. She then grew up in Urbana, Illinois. After graduating from Urbana High School, she worked during World War II at Allis-Chalmers in Springfield, Illinois, then as a cartographic draftsman in the Coast and Geodetic Survey in Washington DC, making maps to be used by the Army and Air Force. She volunteered at the USO and took classes in art at the Corcoran Gallery.

From 1945-1949, she attended the University of Illinois, where she was an award-winning poet and met her future husband in the Poetry Club. They married in 1949, and their first two children were born while her husband, Stephen, was in graduate school. Stephen and Caroline took the children with them for three summers of working for the Forest Service in a fire watch lookout on Ruffneck Peak, in the Salmon River/Frank Church Wilderness Area in Idaho. In 1953-1954, Caroline, Stephen, and the two children traveled on a Fulbright scholarship to Germany, and lived near Munich for a year. Stephen joined the faculty of the University of Michigan in 1954, and the family moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where two more children were born.

Caroline lived in Ann Arbor for 55 years. She was a talented artist and long-time member of the Ann Arbor Women Painters. She attended St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church and volunteered as a driver for Catholic Social Services. Caroline was a homemaker for many years, and also worked for Lithocrafters, Inc. in the production department, and at Ulrich’s Book Store in the framing department. In 1972-1973, she lived in Menlo Park, California, with Stephen and her two younger daughters, while Stephen did research at the Hoover Institution. Caroline was known and loved for her kindness and hospitality to the many neighbors, students, and faculty colleagues who enjoyed parties and meals in her home. After moving to UMRC, she made many friends among the residents and staff. They visited and lovingly supported her during her final days.

She is survived by four children,  Ann (Timothy) Zeddies; Stephen J. Tonsor IV (Susan Kalisz); Claire (Kent) Pruss; and Margaret (Scott) Rayburn, and by 10 grandchildren, Alexander (Lauren) Pruss; Katie (Luke) Kunnen; Michael Zeddies; Eleanor (Jon Stafford) Zeddies; Margaret (David Zeglen) Zeddies; Tim (Erin) Zeddies, Caroline Lynch; Violet Lynch; John Kalisz-Tonsor; and Amalia Kalisz Tonsor, and by five great-grandchildren, Eli Stafford, Jasper Stafford, Roland Zeddies, Raena Pruss, and Max Pruss. She will also be remembered with love by her nephews, William Mizrahi, Joseph Mizrahi, Guy Mizrahi, and Scott Mizrahi, sons of her beloved sister Paula Mizrahi, who predeceased her.

Stephen recited grace at their meals, and always began the prayer, “Thank you for Caroline. Bless her and keep her in health. Guide, guard, and protect her.” His prayer was answered for many years. May she rest in peace at his side.

A memorial service for friends will be held in the chapel at UMRC, on July 8 at 1:30. Memorial contributions can be made to the UMRC Foundation, for the staff scholarship fund. Caroline will be interred next to her husband in St. Mary’s Cemetery, in Fieldon, Illinois.


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