**PLEASE NOTE CHANGE IN DATE OF SERVICE**
“At 93, I now look back on a life fulfilled,” Corinne Carey wrote shortly before her peaceful passing on May 19, 2020. “I was fortunate to be loved by George Carey, my husband of 62 years, and our four wonderful sons and their families,” she said. “When you go through this journey of life, you meet so many people that you truly love and cherish, beautiful people,” she wrote. Her life was full of people she met along the way, but she placed the greatest importance on her family, on being a mother to Pat, Mitch, Steve, and Keith, a grandmother to Mike, Megan, Brandon, and Lyn, and a great grandmother to Amelia, Maddy, and Atlas, a sister to JoAnn (nephews and nieces Merry, David Leslie, Randy, and Nancy) and to brother, Joel Douglas (nephews Warren and Bill). Born Corinne Frances Steury on November 22, 1926 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, she was the loving daughter of Joel Steury, a former member of the Mennonite community from Bern, Indiana and Rosemary Harris of Vestaberg, Michigan.
Corinne led a long, healthy, active, and purposeful life that was guided by her belief in the good of people from all walks of life, the value of education, the importance of finding peaceful solutions to complex problems, and the need to preserve our earth for future generations. Corinne spent a lifetime turning her beliefs into actions. She was a woman ahead of her time, a mentor, a gifted and innovative teacher, a tireless social activist, and a person who had a passion for music, languages, travel, and, of course, family.
Beyond her role as the matriarch of the Carey family, Corinne was a member of Fountain Street Church since 1948 and sang in the choir there for most of the 72 years she was a member. She found a second home at Fountain Street, drawn to the messages of hope and peace espoused by the church. For years, she set up a table after church services where she distributed literature about the importance of a nuclear free world and protecting our environment, and talked to everyone about what they could do to promote an environmentally safe Michigan. Long before anyone heard about reducing carbon footprints, Corinne was taking steps to reduce hers and encouraging others to do so. She practiced what she preached. – every single day. On Monday afternoons, for many years, she rallied with a local peace group on the corner of Division and Fulton in downtown Grand Rapids, advocating for issues of peace, global justice, and a nuclear-free world.
Corinne returned to college in her early forties and, in 1967, became a member of the first graduating class at Grand Valley State University where she received a teaching degree. She taught fourth, fifth, and sixth grades at Coit School for the next 15 years. Corinne wanted students from Coit’s economically depressed neighborhood to have pride in their community and in themselves. Toward that end, she organized and trained her students to lead kids in the lower grades on historical tours of the Coit neighborhood. They learned about the historic buildings and cobblestone streets around their school, as well as the origins of the neighborhood and its place in the history of Grand Rapids. For years after they graduated, students returned to her to say how important she had been in their lives. When the school board proposed razing the building in the 1990s, it was Corinne who joined the fight to save it, eventually winning the battle. Coit School, now 140 years old, continues as a public school today.
Once retired from teaching, Corinne single handedly produced a series called Speaking Out on Grand Rapids Television and ran it for 20 years. She also grew increasingly interested in the environmental threat of nuclear power plants and joined the Don’t Waste Michigan movement. In her late 60s, she walked 450 miles with the Michigan Peace March to protest against nuclear power plants and to fight for peace and justice around the world.
For 35 years, she was an active member of the Institute for Global Education (IGE), an organization devoted to peaceful conflict resolution, human rights, and multicultural and religious awareness. Upon hearing of Corinne’s passing, IGE released a statement saying that “…we have lost a jewel…Her enthusiasm and generous nature were a gift to everyone who was ever near her.”
At 91, Corinne joined the Michigan League of Conservation Voters as a volunteer where she spent her volunteer days calling Michiganders, encouraging them to vote for representatives who would stop rollbacks of critical environmental protections and work toward making Michigan a model and leader in conservation.
She also tutored at Coit School for years after her retirement. She taught for a summer in Nepal and ended up sponsoring one of her students, Ram Bdr Khadka, for the following 12 years. She encouraged his studies and mentored him from a child to a young man. Ram is now completing college and teaching elementary school kids, as well as getting involved in his community - his path, in part, guided by Corinne. In letters he wrote to her over the years, he affectionately referred to her as “Grandma.”
Amid all of her political and environmental activities, Corinne always put her family first and found time to be a grandmother, doing things like baking and decorating gingerbread houses, knitting nose warmers, crocheting, playing the piano, and always imparting knowledge to her grandkids, exposing them to new experiences to broaden their horizons. She was a teacher in every sense of the word - both in and out of the classroom.
Whether she was teaching or volunteering or marching, or sharing time with her family, Corinne’s life was life in motion – always devoted to actions that would make the world a better place and our future brighter. When she summed up her motivations for a life of selfless activism, she said only: “It’s the least I can do for my boys and my family’s future.”
If Corinne could leave us with just one word, a word to remember her by, a word that we’ve all heard her say many times, it would be what she said with every goodbye: “Onward!”
Corinne is preceded in death by her parents, Joel and Rosemary Steury, her husband, George Carey, siblings JoAnn and Doug, and nephew Warren Steury. She leaves behind her four sons, Pat Carey (Sue), Mitch Carey (Nancy), Steve Carey (Jan), and Keith Carey, grandchildren Mike Carey (Amy), Megan Dupuy (Bert), Brandon Carey, and Lyn Rose Carter (Paul), and great grandchildren Amelia Dupuy, Maddy Dupuy, and Atlas Carter. She also leaves behind many beloved nieces and nephews and their children.
Donations may be made in Corinne’s name to Fountain Street Church (24 Fountain St NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503) and/or to the Institute for Global Education (1118 Wealthy St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506)
Due to the current conditions with the Covid-19 pandemic, and in the interest of safety and concern for our family and friends, the memorial for Corinne will be held at Fountain Street Church on August 14, 2021 at 2:00 p.m. Please note this change in date and check this website for updates closer to the date of the service.
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