Ellen Welke 1946-2001

Trying to capture the essence of Ellen Welke in words is like trying to hold the wind in the palm of your hand, it's impossible to do.  The one word that comes to mind when thinking of her is vibrant.  She had so many interests and learned as much as she could about each of them be it dog rescue, dog training, Maine coon cats, crafts, cooking, reading, and of course traveling.

Ellen, as one of the partners of Island Airways, was the instigator of the Great "Flying" Pumpkin Event every October.  Planes would fly to the island loaded with pumpkins of every shape and size and enough of them so that every child on the island could chose their favorite for Halloween.  She was also responsible for keeping alive the sparkle in the eyes of the younger Island children who were border-line in their belief in Santa.  Ellen, who was probably a first cousin to Martha Stewart in her managerial skills, organized the Santa flights which included gifts for each child and their picture taken with the jolly old elf.

Like everyone, Ellen had a serious side.  She was extremely involved in the rescue of Golden Retrievers who had been saved from abuse.  So involved that she and Paul have four "kids".  Her friend, Karin Flint, who placed Ramsee with Paul and Ellen, tells of how when they first started emailing back and forth about Ramsee, Ellen told her about her "children" and Karin actually thought she had a human child with disabilities that she wanted a Golden for until Ellen explained that her "children" were furry.

She loved to travel with Paul, and they went all over.  Many years ago it was a trip to Alaska with Neal and Connie Boyle.  Connie tells about how they were following some bear tracks (definitely the guys idea of fun) and came to a deep, wide ditch that they had to leap across.  Everyone jumped and then it was Ellen's turn, she asked if Paul would catch her and he answered in the affirmative, not taking into account that her legs were much shorter than the other three previous "leapers".  Needless to say, Paul missed and Ellen did a wonderful "George of the Jungle" impression into the wall of the ditch and slid to the bottom.  When she told the story, she always ended with, "while Neal and Paul were rolling around on the grass laughing their butts off, Connie was a true friend - she never cracked a smile!"

Ellen's greatest legacy is to the children, especially the children of Beaver Island, whose lives were affected by her love and generosity.  She will be greatly missed by not only the residents of the island, but by all who had contact with her.  She cared deeply about her family and friends.  Ellen was always ready and willing to jump in and help where ever she could and she could be counted on to help out be it the Junior class support or  the Boy Scouts selling popcorn, or just being there to talk to.  We'll miss you, Ellen, but we have great memories of you to keep you with us for the rest of our lives.

Ellen married the love of her life, Paul Welke, on April 30, 1976 and they made their home near the airport that played such a large part in their lives.  She was used to being woke up in the middle of the night when Paul had to do an emergency flight and managed to keep a cheerful disposition in spite of lack of sleep.

Our prayers and condolences go out to her husband, Paul, son Christopher Michael (Melissa) Welke of Boyne City; her parents, Harvey and Emma King of Fremont, Michigan; a sister Patricia (Donald) Robbins; a brother, Michael King, both of Fremont, Michigan; her in-laws, Bill and Betty Welke of Beaver Island, numerous nephews, close friends, and not least of all her "children": Morgan, Ramsee, Molly and MacKenzie and her cat, Sydney.

A memorial service will be at Holy Cross Catholic Church at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 17th with a luncheon following at Peaine Township Hall.  

The family has asked that memorials be made to either the Beaver Island Emergency Medical Service; P. O. Box 192; Beaver Island, MI 49782 or to the Beaver Island Fire Department; 38240 Back Highway; Beaver Island, MI 49782.

Arrangements were handled by Penzien & Steele Funeral Home in Bay City.


For those people traveling to the island this weekend, Island Airways has requested that you be aware they will NOT be open from 10:30 until 2:00, and the telephones will be shut off, so that all the employees may attend the service for Ellen.  They WILL accommodate everyone during the early morning and afternoon.  Also, please limit your calls for information about memorials or services to the airport as they still need to be able to deal with business.  Your caring thoughts and prayers are appreciated by the Island Airways family at this sad time.  Thank you. 

Go Islanders!!

Submitted by Diane McDonough

The Islanders won their first ever district basketball game this past Tuesday against Alba 65 to 25.  High scores were: Kyle Wojan bringing in 21 points and Drew McDonough with 18 points.  This was an exciting game for everyone!!

The Weathervane in Charlevoix helped out the team and island spectators by giving free rooms for Tuesday nights' game.  THANK YOU TO THE WEATHERVANE!!

The next game will be tonight, Friday, March 9th at Central Lake against Central Lake.  Game start time is 7:00.  If you are in the area, come on along and help cheer our team on to another victory!

Team Players:


    Kyle Wojan, Senior

    Brad and Drew McDonough, Juniors

    Nathan and Joe McDonough, Sophomores

Additional players:

    Abby Adams, Senior

    Brian Bousquet, Junior

    Forest Powers, Sophomore

    Joe Timsak, Sophomore

    Josh Runberg, Sophomore


Islanders lost 37-60, but were only 2 down at half-time.  I understand that they played a terrific game, but simply wore out as time went on.  Friends and family from as far away as Grand Rapids and Battle Creek came to cheer them on and said it was an exciting game.  Congratulations to the Beaver Island basketball team... you did great to make it as far as you did.  No other island basketball team has won a district game so you were first-rate.  Special thanks too, to Coach Cary for all his time and hard work.  We are proud of all of you, win or lose!


Joe and I are amazed!... and I feel like Sally Fields, "You like me, you really, really like me!"  Your response to our request for sponsors to keep this Beaver Island website "up" has been so wonderful.  As you see on the sign above ( on the website www.beaverislandtour.com ), names are being added as mail arrives.  These people are responsible for this site remaining on the Internet.  Without them, we'd have to say "good bye" to all of you as the expense of keeping such a large site up was too much for our budget.  There truly aren't words enough to express our thanks to you all.  I didn't realize how important hearing from home was to you nor how many relied on us to keep you abreast of what's going on.  I can announce that if all the letters come that have been pledged, we will be up here for one more year.  Certainly if you decided not to be a sponsor, we are still glad you stopped by and it's not to late to add a month on to our server in your name or the name of a loved one. Thanks isn't much, but it's all I have and a big ((((hug))) to each of you who responded.  God bless each of you!

Art Johnston's 80th Birthday Celebration

Submitted by Marilyn Clark

How can you honor a man who quietly devotes his life to serving others? Only by surprise! Thirty-six of Art Johnston’s friends on Beaver Island pulled it off Sunday, March 4, 2001. He’d been treated to lunch and cards at the Deli on his 80th birthday, Feb. 27, so his antenna was not up. Art thought he was going to Nancy White’s house for pizza with five friends.

Long-time friends… and new ones kept arriving, bearing mouth-watering food dishes. The stories started and laughter rolled. Calls came from his family, cameras flashed and four students from the Beaver Island Lighthouse School wanted their picture taken with Art for their yearbook. Art honored those gathered with these words: “Other than the birth of my daughter, this is the best day of my life. My wealth is found in good friends. I will treasure this night forever.”

The Ultimate Question to an Islander

As those of us who live here know, the number one question from our summer visitors is, "What do we do in the winter?"  A while back, I won't count the years, Mary Ann Omer was a teacher at the Beaver Island Community School.  Ms. Omer taught the 5th through 8th grades.  That was back when we divided the twelve grades into three rooms.  Nope, I'm not going to say how many years ago that was, because I don't want to date myself.  

One year Ms. Omer gave her students an assignment that they had to write a poem.  I can just imagine the groans that announcement bring forth!  One of those who probably whined the loudest was my little brother, Ron Gregg.  

Many of you will remember reading some of Ron's stories here in the last couple of years.  We have to thank Ms. Omer for her assignment as it was obviously what set Ron on the writing trail - in between bouts of being a soldier.  His sense of humor was already in place by this time and shortly after, it appeared in the island newspaper, the Beaver Beacon.  To find more of Ron's stories - written as an adult??? - check out his families website on the Island Links page. 

Without further ado, here's what Ron turned in when the assignment was due:

Our Favorite Question

What do we do in the winter?, you say.

Well, we sleep in caves from November to May.

Then we wake up, and go down to greet,

The Fudgies that come on the Boat Company fleet.

We show them the beaches, and take them to bars,

And give them rides in our junky old cars.

They bring their cameras, and wear their shorts,

Just like they do the the tropical ports.


So when the summer draws to a close,

And we're tired of looking up everyone's nose,

We wave goodbye from the harbor pier,

And smile and call, "See you next year."

Then we go home and prepare our nest,

For another long awaited rest.

We fill our cups with a strong libation,

And settle down for a long hibernation.

It's almost that time of year again!  If you haven't started making plans to be wearing your green up here you'd better give Island Airways a call and get your reservations made.  Start thinking about writing your limericks, polish up your dancing shoes, start listening to that Irish music as you drive to work or take the kids to school, and think about how you want to dress up for the King and Queen contest. Near as anyone knows, there is NO dress code but there is a requirement that you bring your sense of humor.

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To help you get in the mood, here's a few shots I got last year of some of our fine, up-standing citizens displaying their St. Paddy's Day outfits.  Can you top this?

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Stay tuned, as the big day grows closer we'll have more information up here.  In the meantime, just be sure and get your reservations in so you aren't left sitting in Charlevoix while we're enjoying the goings on here.

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