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Stella Burnette Montgomery

Stella Burnette Montgomery, 89, a woman of devout Faith and dedication to family, died peacefully at home with Jeff and Karen by her side on Thursday, April 25, 2024. Stella was born July 30, 1934, in Detroit, the daughter of Amos Jasper and Martha Ellen (Walker) Morgan. Stella married the love of her life, John Angus Montgomery on November 15, 1952, and the two happily raised two sons. Stella served 27 years as secretary to the Board of Education in Charlotte. Throughout the years, John and Stella enjoyed annual summer family camping trips, golfing, a memorable trip along Route 66 to California, and wintering in Orlando, FL. They were both devout Baptists, and Stella was an active bible student, Sunday school teacher for over 20 years, and instrumental in the Leader of Life Group. She volunteered in missionary work for 10 winters in Florida, and throughout her life gave away countless Bibles. Stella will be remembered as a true servant of the Lord, and loving wife, mother and grandmother, and friend.

Stella is survived by her son, Jeffrey (Karen) Montgomery of Charlotte; grandchildren, Jordan Montgomery, BreAnna (Justin) Bray, and Johnathan (Juli) Montgomery; 3 great-grandchildren, Asher, Maggie, and Lydia; sister, Joan Morgan; and her nieces, nephews, and extended family. She was predeceased by her husband, John Montgomery; son, Robert Montgomery; sister, Emma Gilbreath; brother, Ronald Morgan; and her parents.

Friends are encouraged to support Stella’s family by sharing memories on her Tribute Page at Funeral services were held at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, April 29, 2024, at First Baptist Church of Charlotte with Pastor Peter Kroll officiating. Interment will take place in Bosworth Cemetery in Olivet. The funeral was webcast so you may watch it from any computer, smartphone, or mobile device that has internet access. Go to, click on Stella’s tribute, then click on Photos and Videos from your computer (or Media from your smart phone). If desired, the family suggests memorial contributions to the First Baptist Church of Charlotte. The family is in the care of Pray Funeral Home, Charlotte.

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Melvin Duane Lilly

Melvin Duane Lilly, 77, of Charlotte, Michigan, passed away peacefully April 20, 2024, surrounded by family.  He was born on June 19, 1946, in Lansing, the son of Harry and G. Esther (Warner) Lilly.  Duane graduated from Charlotte High School with the Class of 1964. While in high school, he was actively involved in FFA where he served as the reporter, and in his senior year, the chapter’s Vice President.

At a young age, he held down two jobs, working at Barker Building of Mulliken during the day and General Motors in the evening.  Duane was a lifelong farmer and a 38-year General Motors Machinist at Fisher Body Lansing.  His real passion was farming, but he loved everything about nature, hunting, looking for mushrooms, and even cutting wood.  When he wasn’t outside you would find him in the barn tinkering on a project, manufacturing a part, or making repairs on fellow farmers’ equipment.

Duane was known for having a soft spot for the farm kittens, creating nicknames for family members, and socializing with anyone who happened to stop by.  On any given day, you might find him out on a crop tour around the neighborhood driving well below the speed limit or at an auction looking for a bargain.  He enjoyed finding deals whether it be at an auction, local garage sale, or out pawn shopping with his sons-in-law looking for any kind of bargain.  While most would have classified his special roadside finds as junk, he was reluctant to get rid of items that could be used for a future project.  Duane was sentimental, hard-working, willing to help others at the drop of a hat, and truly valued relationships with friends and family.

Duane is survived by his wife of 36 years, Susan (Roth); “The Kids”, Chanda (Lilly) and Todd Aves, Lorinda and Jim Frederick, Russell and Erika Bierschbach; grandchildren, Chloe, Claire, Megan Sue, Virginia Kate, James Brian, Christian, Julia, Chloe; brother, Doug Lilly; and his nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents; brother, Darwin; infant sister, and nephew, Rob.

Funeral services were held on Wednesday, April 24, 2024, at the Burkhead-Green-Kilgo Funeral Home with Pastor Charles Jenson officiating. The family received friends on Tuesday at the funeral home. Burial will take place at West Carmel Cemetery.

Those desiring may make contributions in Duane’s memory to Eaton Community Palliative Care 2675 S. Cochran Road, Charlotte, MI 48813.
To view Duane’s obituary online or to leave a condolence for the family please visit

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Martin Rachilla

Martin (Mart) Rachilla, 80, of Charlotte, went to be with his Lord on December 12, 2023.

Mart was a naturally talented man, there was nothing he could not fix or create. From bringing junk cars back to original glory, to carving a masterpiece out of a hunk of wood. His carvings amazed, even master carvers, and won many awards for their realistic details.

Mart was an avid hunter and fisherman, and let none of his catch go to waste, making jewelry and creating art out of ‘throwaway’ pieces of bone, teeth, and hide.

He recently started racing lawn tractors on weekends, and had just perfected his racer to winning status.
Mart will be greatly missed.

Mart is survived by his wife, Sharon; Sons: Marty (Jill) Rachilla, Brinton (Dawn) Rachilla; Stepchildren: Rick Ells, Valerie Ells, and Tara (Jim) Geller. Along with 10 grandchildren and 23 great grandchildren.

Memorial service will be held on May 11 at Chester Gospel church at 2 p.m., Pastor Dennis Weeks presiding.

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Shirley Ann Couzens

Shirley Ann Couzens, a true woman of God, died on Tuesday, April 30, 2024, after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s. Shirley 85 was born on August 27, 1938, in Jolley Springs, TN the daughter of Robert and Gracey (Stephens) Thomas. She was a 1956 graduate of Lansing Eastern High School. Shirley worked at the MSU 4-H Youth Programs Office retiring in 1982. On September 10, 1982, Shirley married Donald B. Couzens and together they spent the next 41 years creating lasting memories. Her two sons, Mark, and Michael brought so much joy to her life, and she was so proud of all their accomplishments. She was a devoted member of the New Hope Community Church.

Shirley is survived by her husband, Donald; sons, Mark Alan (Sheri) Sleep, and Michael Roy (Claire) Sleep; stepdaughter, Teri Lynn (Pat) McNea; eight grandchildren, Rachel, Brianne, David, Jeff, Nichole, Nic, Jack, and Brooke; and four great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by her parents; and siblings, William (Margaret) Thomas, Mary (Harvey) Moore, Robert “Buck” (Betty) Thomas, Wanda (Jim) Bott, Emma (Lex) Chumley, and Halbert (Jewel) Thomas.

Friends are encouraged to support Shirley’s family by attending services or sharing memories on her Tribute Page at A Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, May 11, 2024, at 1:00 p.m. with Pastor Victor Williams officiating at the New Hope Community Church in Charlotte. If desired, the family suggests memorial contributions to the Alzheimer’s Association or the New Hope Community Church. The family is in the care of Pray Funeral Home, Charlotte.

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James Lee Carroll

James “Jimmy” Lee Carroll, a man that from birth was dealt many lifelong challenges but was able to overcome so much. Jimmy, 62, of Kalamazoo was born on February 23, 1962, the son of Leo and Margaret (Pennington) Carroll. He was born three months premature and from birth was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, doctors told his parents that he would not live to his fifth birthday. Jimmy lived his entire life non-verbally, but was able to communicate with his eyes and facial expressions. Even with the challenges that he faced he was always happy and smiling. During his younger years Jimmy was an artist and loved making paintings with the use of his mouth. He was also able to operate a computer and his wheelchair by his mouth. Jimmy was also known as being a collector of pens. It is believed that he has collected a pen from every doctor’s office/business that he has visited throughout his lifetime. For 20 plus years Jimmy took part in different case studies at Western Michigan University to help better understand Cerebral Palsy. He also loved going out and about with his caregivers. Even if it was just a quick trip to the coffee shop, it made his day. Jimmy’s sisters believed that if Jimmy could speak, he would have said how he was proud of his ability to communicate non-verbally in a verbal world. They also stated that for the first time in his life he can now do something that he has never done, walking alongside his parents in heaven. Jimmy beat the odds, touched many lives and will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

Jimmy is survived by his sisters, Jeanette (Doug) Aspinall, Jackie (Duane) Collier, and Julie (David) Brooks; several nieces and nephews; and his loving care that he received from his family at Community Living Options Home on Chelten Ave. in Kalamazoo. He was predeceased by his parents.

Friends are encouraged to support Jimmy’s family by sharing memories on his Tribute Page at A private family graveside service will be held at Wilcox Cemetery in Nashville. If desired, the family suggests memorial contributions to St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital. The family is in the care of Pray Funeral Home, Charlotte.

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