Rosalie Nash Zill

Rosalie was born July 1, 1931 in Marion Township, Livingston County in Michigan.  She was the oldest of 7 children and grew up in Howell, MI on a farm.  Her parents were Mark and Celia Nash.  She graduated from Pinckney High School in 1949 and from Michigan State College in 1953.  She played basketball in school and loved to play the piano.  She had many stories of her younger years growing up on the farm and taking care of all her sisters and brother.  They lived in old farm house with their parents, grandparents and aunts.  She loved her grandfather dearly and was very sad when he died. She would play the piano while her grandfather sang.  She was such a good piano player that she could play by ear. 

She graduated with a degree in teaching from MSC and during her college days she stayed with a family, the Booths.  In exchange for room and board she took care of their daughter, Barbie.  After the first several years she moved onto campus and worked at the Union serving and preparing food.  She really enjoyed that.  During her breaks she worked with her Aunt Isabelle at Argus Cameras.  There she met an Ed Zill who set her up on a blind date in Dec. of 1950 with his younger brother Ken. 

The rest is history.  You will read their courtship here in these letters.  When Ken returned home in August 1952 they started dating in person but again long distance.  Rosalie still at MSC and Ken working and attending school at Michigan Normal College (now known as Eastern Michigan Univerisity).  They were married on June 20, 1953.

She taught grades 3-6 at Arabelle Wagner School west of Ann Arbor in 1953-54 and Grade 4 at Haisley School in Ann Arbor, 1954-56.  They moved to Jackson, Michigan where Ken worked for Jackson High School teaching math.  It is in Jackson that their first child, Kenneth John Zill was born.

Shortly after that Ken took a job in Syracuse, NY at General Electric.  There their second child was born, Mary Elizabeth Zill.  They moved back to Ann Arbor in 1959 six weeks after Mary Elizabeth was born. They bought their first home at 1025 Western Drive.  In 1968, they moved across town to 2551 Prairie which they owned until they were both gone.

They both were long time members of St. Pauls Lutheran Church in Ann Arbor.  In 1964 she started working as a volunteer at the newly started St. Paul's Lutheran School and later on was hired on as the school secretary.  She was there for 27 years at the time of her retirement.  She was much more than a secretary and fought for the right to be called adminstrative assistant!  She was a nurse, substitute teacher, and surrogate mother to all the kids.  She was much loved there!

Ken and Rosalie loved going "up north" to their little trailer in the woods near Lake City, MIchigan.  It was very rustic with electricity but no running water and no indoor toilet. What they did have was a two seater dutch door outhouse that looked out over the woods!  Many a good time was spent in those woods!  They loved to drive around looking for deer and in the winter they would bring up their snowmobiles and drive all over the country side.

Other loves they shared were fishing and boating.  They bought a big SeaRay boat but soon felt that it was too large for them and traded that in for a pontoon boat which they kept at Klave's Marina in Dexter.  They loved going up and down the chain of lakes with family and friends. 

In September of 1986 their first grandchild was born, Alissa Marie VandenBerghe to Liz and Loren.  There were not two more proud grandparents to be found!  They loved taking her out for car rides, showing her off to their friends, and looking for water towers.  In 1989 their second grandchild was born, Kenneth Dale VandenBerghe.  Of course, named for both his grandpas.

She retired from St. Paul's in May, 1991 but her loving husband was not there for the celebration.  He died after a brief illness on April 14, 1991. He had suffered from congestive heart failure. 

On May 9, 1992 she married Nelson William Ziesemer.  He proceeded her in death on May 28, 1996.

She loved to travel and loved her grandchildren which went well together as Liz's family spent from 1989-1995 moving around the world.  Rosalie visited Kirkland, Quebec; Hamilton Bermuda; Solihull England; and Antwerp, Belgium.  They finally settled in Bellevue, WA (just outside Seattle).  She made many trips and never tired of seeing Mt. Rainier!

In August of 2005 their third grandchild was born, Alexander Zill to Kip and Vika Zill.

She had health issues that made living alone difficult and after much deliberation it was determined that she would need to leave her lovely little blue house on Prairie Street and move into assisted living.  A small facility was found on the west side of Ann Arbor, called Hillside Terrace.  She moved in the middle of January 2011, she had her own room and it was fixed up to look just like her family room at home.  Much to her family's surprise she enjoyed living there and was making friends and was involved in the offered activities. On Feb. 3rd, 2011, their fourth grandchild, Anna Marie Zill was born. 

She took ill in March and never recovered from major surgery.  She moved back into her little room with hospice care and died on April 14th, 2011.  The very same day Ken died 20 years earlier.  It was very close to the same time of day as Ken.  When they found her, she had a smile on her face and her hands were folded in prayer on her chest. 

She is greatly missed by all her knew her.  Her two oldest grandchildren are now married.  While she never met their spouces face to face she knew of them and was extremely happy and proud of her grandchildren.  Her two youngest grandchildren are growing up in CT with thier parents, Kip and Vika.

She had a great sense of humor and was always ready to hear or tell a good joke.  The more risque the better!  She would then ask, "Did you get?" Her smile was infectious with that bright red lipstick that she would never leave the house without.  The shade was called, "Love That Red."  

In her later years she ate many meals out at her two favorite local hang outs, The Flim Flam and the Big Boy on Plymouth Rd. in Ann Arbor.  Not only did she know all the wait staff by name, she knew their stories.  She would stop and talk with strangers and made many new friends that way.  Customers and staff from both restaurants came to the funeral home to say goodbye to her. 

She was a big newspaper reader and would read from cover to cover.  She then would clip articles out for family and friends and mail them out.  It was hard for us to get her to throw old newspapers out!  She knew her mailman by name and would leave cold pops in her mailbox for him on hot days.  She had her own police man that would check up on her and make sure that she was okay. 

She was good letter writer and always remembered everyone's birthdays.  She was a pack rat though and would buy things to give to people and hid it and then forget where it was or that she had even bought anything.  Cleaning out their house was like being on a treasure hunt!  I found enough postage stamps to last me over two years! 

The last story that I will share with you is very special to me and relevant to this site.  While she was living in the assisted living home she wanted me to find the recording of her wedding.  It had been recorded on a 78 rpm record and she wanted to hear it.  She was sure of where it was and what it looked liked.  I could not find it anywhere and was heartsick that I couldn't find it.  While cleaning out her house and getting ready for the estate sale we brought all their old records up stairs and marked them a ridiculously low price.  While we were straightening them out I noticed a piece of pink paper sticking slightly up.  It was in album cover of Christmas Hymns and Carols.  The note was in my mom's handwriting, it read,"This is Daddy's and my wedding but it doesn't fit on present record player.  Uncle Jack may have a record player in his garage that will play it."  Sure enough inside were three large heavy disks labeled, "Kenneth Zill-Rosalie Nash Wedding." It was as if she planted it there so that I would find it.  I was so relieved to have found it!  I could have so easily sold it.  We were able to have it transferred on to a CD so we can keep it forever and were able to listen to it!  How many people in 1953 recorded their wedding?  We didn't even have a video from our wedding in 1981!  And how many people can listen to their parents wedding from 61 years ago? Not many I imagine!

Copyright © 2013 Mary Elizabeth Zill VandenBerghe

Elizabeth McGlone 05.09.2019 07:05

I found this article really interesting and gonna share its link with my sister before taking

James Burroughs 21.07.2015 22:01

my name is James Burroughs and I graduated with your Mother from Pinckney in 1949, also lived next door to Her Fathers Farm near Pettysville, We attended grade

Liz Zill VandenBerghe 21.07.2015 23:41

Mr. Burroughs, your message got cut off. Please email me at Thank you for leaving a message. I look forward to hearing from you.

Harold R.Smith 21.07.2014 21:13

I read most of your stories. I am 82 and just give my 341 letters to the County Historical Society and Missouri Historical Society. Would like to be in touch

Susan (Susie) gardner 08.04.2014 00:07

Liz, I've so enjoyed following your blog. When your family moved to Western Dr. I babysat you and Kip. Great memories!

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Latest comments

04.10 | 19:01

Of course, thank you for asking! Would love to see what you write if you can share when you are done.

04.10 | 18:39

I'm writing a book on Christmas in Wartime. Would it be ok to use a couple of comments in your dad's letters related to Christmas in the book? Many thanks!

09.07 | 22:16

If your related to Celia Gearhart Nash 1913-1988. Please contact me. I have a self-published book of poems written by her titled the View From My Window

05.09 | 07:05

I found this article really interesting and gonna share its link with my sister before taking