Charlotte Mary (James) Streit, 78, of Elk Rapids, passed away peacefully at home on April 18, 2020, surrounded by family, after a long struggle with dementia. Charlotte was born in Chicago on January 12, 1942 to David and Eleanor (Aubere) James, sister to David James, Louis (Anne) James, Jewel Dow (Barbara) James, and Fred (Leza) James.
“Charlie,” as her loved ones called her, graduated from Marywood High School, in Evanston, Ill., then enrolled at the National College of Education, in Evanston, where her love of literature and the arts was nourished.
At 14, she met the love of her life: 16-year-old Robert George Streit of Skokie, Ill. Charlie and Bob were married on June 30, 1962, a month after he graduated from Notre Dame University.
They raised their children in Libertyville, Ill.: Bob Streit Jr., born in 1963, Anthony (Esther) Streit (1965), and Caroline Streit (1969). A fourth child, Mary Michael Streit, passed away at birth in 1975.
Charlie was a loving wife and mother who devoted herself to her family, God and her community. She achieved certification as a Catholic lay minister and volunteered preparing liturgies, teaching bible studies, and counseling the troubled and the grieving.
She managed a soup kitchen and volunteered at her children and grandchildren’s schools. She advocated for a more inclusive Catholic Church through the reform group Call to Action, and believed strongly that ordination should be extended to women.
Her beautiful soprano voice graced services, weddings, funerals, and family events with hymns, Irish music, and John Denver songs.
Charlie and Bob moved from Libertyville to New Canaan, Conn. and then St. Louis, Mo., during Bob’s partnership in the accounting firm Ernst & Young. In each community, Charlie’s warmth brought new friends into the fold.
In 1999, the couple retired to Elk Rapids and co-founded the Twisted Fish Gallery, showcasing Northern Michigan’s fine artists. Charlie served as the Gallery’s florist and nurtured beautiful gardens there and at home. The Twisted Fish, led by Bob and daughter Caroline, continues to thrive 20 years later.
Family was a constant presence at Moosebone, the Streits’ Elk Rapids home. Celebrations there often drew 50-plus. Charlie was a great cook who set a beautiful and welcoming table. Each spring, she and her family made maple syrup together at their sugar shack on the Manistee River.
Charlie read avidly, from fantasy novels to tomes of history and theology. She was a quilter, and sewed many unforgettable Halloween costumes for her grandchildren. She wrote songs and poems, painted, and played the Autoharp.
Charlie was a source of generosity, compassion and unending sweetness. Her faith inspired her many works of charity and she believed guardian angels watch over us all.
Charlie was playful until the very end, making her loved ones laugh with funny faces and other theatrics. Her humor lives on in timeless family stories.
Charlotte was preceded in death by her parents and is survived by her husband of 58 years, her brothers, her three children, and four grandchildren: Gabriel and Twyla Neely-Streit, and Theodore and Maxwell Streit-Hurh.
The family would like to express their deepest gratitude to Bonnie Brunner, her daily home healthcare professional, and to the Traverse City Munson Home Hospice Team who compassionately assisted her on her journey.
She was buried at the Sacred Heart Cemetery, in Kewadin, on Thursday, April 23.
A public funeral and celebration of life for Charlie will be held in the summer. All will be invited.
In lieu of flowers, the family is asking that donations be made to research at the Mesulam Center for Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer's Disease at Northwestern University in Chicago.
Arrangements have been handled by the Central Lake Chapel of Mortensen Funeral Homes. Please sign her online guestbook www.mortensenfuneralhomes.com.