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Edward A. Erwin

March 26, 1923 February 21, 2019
Edward A. Erwin
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Obituary for Edward A. Erwin

Edward Alfred Erwin was born March 26, 1923, in his family home on 10 Mile Rd in Novi, Michigan, the 4th child and 2nd son of Frances Sitlington Erwin and James N. Erwin. The Erwins farmed in Oakland County, MI, starting in 1842, after immigrating to the United States from Northern Ireland in 1837 and subsequently spending 5 years in New York City.

Edward’s younger, 1-year-old, sister, Dorothy Jane, died of pneumonia in 1927, when he was 3, and his mother died of pneumonia in 1929, when he was five. His elder, then 13-year-old, sister Marian heroically became his surrogate mother.

Edward was valedictorian of his 1941 Northville High School graduating class. He studied engineering at Michigan State University until March 1943, when he began active duty in the US Army Air Forces, which had him trained in meteorology, beginning at the University of Michigan. He served as a 1st Lieutenant and Weather Officer in the Air Force, mostly in Kansas, until 1946.

When Edward returned to Novi after his military service, James N. Erwin and his sons, J.W. and Edward, formed a fruit-growing partnership that would later become Erwin Farms and then Erwin Orchards. With exceptional dedication, intelligence, and efficiency, Edward specialized in the fruit production side of the business. In 1953 they expanded from Novi, acquiring a 240-acre farm on Silver Lake Road in Lyon Township. Today, J. W.’s eldest son, Bill Erwin with his wife Linda and Bill Emery, whose special talents include cider making and mechanics, continue Erwin Orchards. Edward was very grateful that his nephews and Bill Emery made the continuing viability of Erwin Orchards possible. Recalling the generosity of his own father, Edward gave his financial interests in the Erwin Orchards business and land to his partners and daughters many years ago.

Over the years, Edward served as a delegate and president of the Oakland County Farm Bureau and as a member of the Michigan State Horticultural Society Board of Directors. He served on the Novi School Board at the time that Orchard Hills Elementary School was built and on the Lyon Township Board of Review.

Late last century Edward took on a second career--development of property better used for housing than fruit growing, overseeing the construction of Richard Erwin Drive (off Silver Lake Road) and of Tayberry Circle (off Pontiac Trail), as well as the introduction of utilities for Tayberry.

In August 1946, the month after Edward left the Air Force, he met Betty Jane Wilcox of Detroit, whom he married 6 months later, in February 1947. Edward benefited greatly from Betty’s talents, domestically and in the fruit business. In the early days she drove a tractor and in 1970 took over bookkeeping for an 8-year period. Edward and Betty had 3 children, Kathy, Pat, and Richard, who was tragically killed in 1967 at the age of 12 by an inebriated driver.

In 1969, after the orchards in Novi had been sold and Pat completed high school, Edward and Betty moved to Lyon Township, into a newly built house whose design was modified from that of the house they had built in Novi 15 years earlier. They became long-time active members of New Hudson United Methodist Church. In 2006, after Betty’s death, Edward married Thelma Tesner.

When not working, Edward was a voracious reader, regular crossword-puzzle solver and, before his remarriage, was always working on a jigsaw puzzle. For 40 years, through 2013, he enjoyed spending extended portions of each winter in Florida, where he lived a very different life from the orchard-devoted one in Michigan. In Florida, he shuffle-boarded, pot-lucked, played cards, and golfed, all usually rather well. Every year he did all of the driving to and from Florida himself, in a day and a half each way, with just an overnight stop.

February 21, 2019, in Commerce Township, Michigan, Edward A. Erwin, who had recently been diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, a blood cancer that impaired his immune system, passed away peacefully from pneumonia.

Edward is survived by his second wife, Thelma Tesner; stepdaughter Diane Tesner (MaryAnne Ortman); his daughters, Kathy Erwin and Pat (Bernard) Zandstra; Pat’s children, Sarah (Ryan) Batson, Rebecca (Stephen) Elmer, Jacob (Brittany) Zandstra; great-grandchildren Wyatt, Natalie, and Davis Batson and Benjamin Elmer; his brother Robert (Gloria) Erwin, and many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his son, Richard Erwin, and his first wife, Betty Jane Wilcox Erwin, his sisters Dorothy Jane Erwin, Norine Gilman, and Marian Johnson and his brother J. W. Erwin.

Memorial contributions may be made to the New Hudson United Methodist Church, 56730 Grand River Avenue, New Hudson, Michigan 48165.


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Previous Events

Visitation

Friday

8

Mar

2:00 PM 3/8/2019 2:00:00 PM - 8:00 PM 3/8/2019 8:00:00 PM
Phillips Funeral Home

122 West Lake Street (Ten Mile Road)
South Lyon, MI 48178

Phillips Funeral Home
122 West Lake Street (Ten Mile Road) South Lyon 48178 MI
United States

Visitation2

Saturday

9

Mar

10:15 AM 3/9/2019 10:15:00 AM - 11:00 AM 3/9/2019 11:00:00 AM
New Hudson United Methodist Church

56730 Grand River Ave.
New Hudson, MI 48165

New Hudson United Methodist Church
56730 Grand River Ave. New Hudson 48165 MI
United States

Funeral Ceremony

Saturday

9

Mar

11:00 AM 3/9/2019 11:00:00 AM
New Hudson United Methodist Church

56730 Grand River Ave.
New Hudson, MI 48165

New Hudson United Methodist Church
56730 Grand River Ave. New Hudson 48165 MI
United States

Graveside Service

Saturday

9

Mar

2:30 PM 3/9/2019 2:30:00 PM
Rural Hill Cemetery

101 Rural Hill Road
Northville, MI 48167

Rural Hill Cemetery
101 Rural Hill Road Northville 48167 MI
United States

Cemetery Details

Location

Rural Hill Cemetery Final Resting Place

101 Rural Hill Road
Northville, MI 48167

101 Rural Hill Road Northville 48167 MI
United States

Memorial Contribution

New Hudson United Methodist Church

56730 Grand River Ave.
New Hudson, MI 48165
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