Shirley Anne Rumpz had a passion for learning, so much so that when others often opted to relax after raising their children, she returned to school to earn her degree.
“There was a thing she always said: ‘If you learned something, it’s not a wasted day,’” said her granddaughter Holly Flickinger, a Detroit News reporter.
Mrs. Rumpz died Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014, in Tawas after complications following breaking her hip last month. She was 76.
She met her husband Lawrence Rumpz at her sister’s wedding, where she was the maid of honor and he was the best man. They married in 1960 and were inseparable the next 53 years.
Mrs. Rumpz’s grandparents emigrated from Poland to Canada; the family eventually settled in Detroit, near Joy Road and the Southfield Freeway on the city’s west side. Mrs. Rumpz was proud of her Polish heritage and kept the culture and customs alive for her grandchildren, who called her "Nanny.” She taught them how to cook Polish recipes, including pierogi and potato pancakes, and the words to her favorite Polish songs.
“She loved Bobby Vinton’s ‘My Melody of Love,’” said one of her daughters, Pamela Rumpz. “... All her grandkids knew all the words from a very young age, including the Polish lyrics.”
Mrs. Rumpz worked for years at the University of Detroit, first as a secretary before working her way up to assistant to the academic vice president, where she helped negotiate employee contracts.
She decided to pursue a degree in history at the university in the early ’70s while she raised a son and two girls.
“I think one thing that stood out to her was how important historians were to helping culture and legacy and history live on,” said another daughter, Lori Fournier.
In 1984, Mrs. Rumpz graduated in the same class as Lori.
“I remember my dad getting her this mug that said: ‘Wife, Mother, Scholar,’ and she absolutely treasured it,” Pamela Rumpz said.
One of Mrs. Rumpz’s favorite pastimes was introducing her family to classic books, music and movies, including “Casablanca.”
Mrs. Rumpz was also a die-hard Red Wings fan, even traveling to Nashville for a playoff game against the Predators.
Mrs. Rumpz retired to Glennie in northern Michigan near Huron National Forest, a location she described as “the most beautiful place” next to Hawaii.
“I think she was happiest as a grandmother,” said Pamela Rumpz. “... About a year ago, she said, ‘I had a good life. I had a husband who loved me, wonderful kids and grandkids and lived in the most beautiful place.’ ”
In addition to her husband, daughters and granddaughter, other survivors include a son, Craig Rumpz, her sister Evelyn Rumpz; her brother Lary DeMink; and grandchildren Gabrielle Fournier, Tyler Fournier and Anna Rumpz.
Visitation will be at noon Wednesday at Holy Family Catholic Church, followed by a funeral Mass. Holy Family is located at 516 W Lincoln St., in East Tawas.