Evelyn Theresa Rau dedicated her life to kindness and acts of service, drawing inspiration from her devotion to her Catholic faith. She cultivated a legacy through raising her large family, caring for her West Branch community, and spending countless hours pouring her love into the family farm. She died Tuesday, January 23, 2024, at the age of 93.
In her final days, Evelyn was at peace in knowing she would join Leon, her husband of nearly 63 years, to begin their eternal life together. She died at home with her family at her side.
Evelyn Theresa Schneider was born on April 17, 1930, in Detroit, MI. She was the daughter of Frank and Anna (Distelrath) Schneider and grew up on a farm near Rose City, MI.
Evelyn married Leon W. Rau on July 30, 1949. They moved to Flint, MI where they started their family, and they were blessed with five daughters. In 1961, they relocated to West Branch to purchase the farm where they would spend most of their lives together. They also welcomed a sixth daughter to complete their family. Leon died on February 25, 2012.
Evelyn was passionate about education and taught as a long-term substitute in Flint and various West Branch and Rose City schools. She attended St. Joseph High School in West Branch and earned a teaching certificate from County Normal in Standish. She continued her education through additional courses at U of M-Flint and Central Michigan College.
Evelyn was a cherished mother and grandmother and an active member of St. Joseph Catholic Church in West Branch, where she worshiped and served as a eucharistic minister for the homebound. She also found joy in serving funeral dinners to members of her community.
Beyond career and religious involvement, Evelyn led a rich and fulfilling life. She expanded the family farm, spending countless hours caring for dairy cattle. Evelyn had a green thumb and a passion for gardening. Flowers blossomed under her loving touch and care. She also wove beauty into the lives of others through the artistry of her crochet.
Evelyn actively participated in 4-H as a youth and adult leader, sharing her love for sewing, canning, and showing her farm’s prize-winning cattle at the Ogemaw County Fair. She was also an active member of the Farm Bureau, VFW, and the American Legion Ladies Auxiliaries.
Evelyn left behind her daughters and sons-in-law: Jennifer (Rau) and William Tunney, Letitia (Rau) Simmet, Julie (Rau) and Charles Nelkie, Mary (Rau) and Jon Butler, Rita (Rau) and George Foos, Laura (Rau) and Matthew Holl. She left 14 grandchildren: Cheryl (Chris) Plainte, Carin Tunney, Christy Tunney, Ashley (Matt) LaLonde, Theresa (Scott) Feldhauser, Aimee (Matt) Faulkner, Lance (Joni) Foos, Logan Foos, Abigail (Michael) O’Farrell, Emory Nelkie, Reuben (Anna) Nelkie, Martin (Kasey) Nelkie, Lucas Holl, and Lindsey Holl. She had 23 great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild. She is also survived by her brother Richard Schneider, and sister and brother-in-law, Marlene (Schneider) and John Wojciechowski. Besides her beloved husband, Leon, Evelyn was preceded in death by her son-in-law Jack Simmet, and step-grandson Craig Simmet.
Memories of Evelyn will live on through the lives she touched. She will be remembered for her kind and compassionate nature, unwavering faith, and commitment to her family and community. In her final days, Evelyn continued to express her love for others through gentle touches and reassuring words as she prepared to enter heaven.
A visitation will be held at Steuernol & McLaren Funeral Home in West Branch, MI on Sunday, January 28, 2024, from 2 PM until 8 PM with a rosary at 2 PM. The funeral mass at St. Joseph Catholic Church in West Branch, MI will take place on Monday, January 29, 2024, at 11 AM with visitation at the church beginning at 10 AM. Father Nicholas Cooper will officiate. A graveside service will follow at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery in West Branch.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the St. Joseph School Endowment fund or McLaren Hospice.
The family would like to extend gratitude to those who assisted and provided comfort to her and the family in her final days.
Online condolences can be shared at www.steuernolmclaren.com