American Veteran 04

Josephine Clairese (Pawloski) Kiel

May 4, 1921 ~ March 10, 2019 (age 97)


Josephine P. Kiel, age 97, a resident of Clark Community, passed into the arms of her heavenly Father on Sunday, March 10 at 3:14 AM. Josephine Pawloski was born a farm girl on May 4, 1921 in Wayland, Michigan, the third of 10 siblings. She was preceded in death by her beloved husband LaVern G (Jerry) Kiel, oldest brother Edward, sister Adeline, brother Leon Junior, brother Anthony, sister Genevieve, and survived by her younger brother Joseph, and sisters Mary, Frances, and Helene.

Josephine graduated valedictorian from Wayland High School and after high school, went into nurse’s training. Always a lifelong student, Jo was intellectually curious and hungry to learn new things about the world. Her friends and family are well aware how much she loved a spirited debate. Controversial subjects never scared her.

She met Jerry, the love of her life, at a wedding party. They were later married after an elopement to New Orleans. WWII began and they both enlisted. Josephine became an Army Lieutenant nurse, serving at the front in the European Theater. She has shared many memories about her wartime experience, including the horrors of liberating the death camps. We all respect her military service. Jo and Jerry were able to communicate during the war but were separated for 4 long years with the exception of a few liaisons quietly allowed by their supervisors. After WWII ended, the young couple settled in Grand Rapids to raise their five children: Connie (Ken) Dabney, Joan (Ray) Miller, Rosemary (Tom) Ervine, Jerry (Nancy Underwood) Kiel, and Christine (Chuck) Stoker. The Kiel family is now greatly extended and includes 10 grandchildren and 18 great grandchildren.

For many years, Jo worked tirelessly as the night supervisor at Sunshine Hospital, even while raising five children and earning two master’s degrees. Later she went back to school and gained a third master’s degree in education. She taught language arts for many years at Hamilton Elementary and Crestwood Middle School in the Kentwood Public Schools system. She passed on her love of learning to many young people.

Josephine was a generous patron of the arts. She and her husband Jerry loved attending the Grand Rapids Symphony, Pops concerts, opera, ballet, Broadway shows, Spectrum Theater, and Circle Theatre, as well as visiting art museums. Their days were always filled with great entertainment.

She and Jerry also traveled extensively, visiting 82 countries over their lifetime together. At every opportunity, they went camping, Airstream touring, hiking, and sailing. When this couple wasn’t traveling, they were playing tennis, golf, skiing, and sailing, as well as dancing and playing bridge late into the night. Josephine loved a full schedule!

Josephine was probably most well-known for giving terrific parties. Every holiday and family event merited a memorable party complete with singing, great wine, merriment, and her gourmet meals served on elegant china and crystal. She created so many beautiful, lively occasions. Always the life of the party, people remember her for her sparkling smile and raucous laugh. She was the mainstay and pillar of the Kiel Family, and a role model extraordinaire for many others on how to live a vibrant life full of love, joy and generosity. 

The Celebration of Life service and Mass will be held at the Clark Franklin Campus on Saturday, March 16 at 11 AM in Clark’s Chapel, located at 1551 Franklin St SE. Please join us for the reception following the service, held in the BK Room. Light refreshments will be served. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Josephine Kiel’s name to The Grand Rapids Symphony Gateway to Music program or Kentwood Public Schools Educational Foundation. Information for donations is provided below and envelopes will be available at the reception for those who wish to donate.


The Grand Rapids Symphony Gateway to Music program
Grand Rapids Symphony
Attention:  Dianne Lobbestael
300 Ottawa Avenue NW, Suite 100
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
(616) 454-9451 x4
The Kentwood Public Schools Educational Foundation
Attention: President, Jim Swoboda
5820 Eastern Avenue
Kentwood, MI 49508

To send flowers to Josephine's family, please visit our floral section.


Celebration of Life
March 16, 2019

11:00 AM
Clark Retirement Community Franklin Campus
1551 Franklin Street SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49506


Grand Rapids Symphony Gateway to Music program
300 Ottawa Avenue NW, Suite 100, Grand Rapids MI 49503
Tel: 6-164-549-4514

Kentwood Public Schools Educational Foundation
5820 Eastern Avenue SE, Kentwood MI 49508
Tel: 1-616-455-4400

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