Agnes Finlaw ’46 Green

Agnes “Ronnie” Green, 97, of Jenison, formerly of Traverse City, passed away peacefully Friday, October 23, at Sunset Manor, Jenison, with her family by her side.

Ronnie was born on July 16, 1923, in Brooklyn, New York, to the late William Finlaw and Violet Dewhurst Finlaw.

She attended James Madison High School in Brooklyn. In February 1943, she moved to Holland to attend Hope College. As she said, “There was the war, and all colleges were desperate for warm bodies.” She started as a Business Major but heard about a “Snap Course” called Beginning Social Work. After graduation, she took advantage of an opportunity to receive a paid scholarship to the University of Michigan, school of social work, for a one-year’s credit toward a master’s degree in social work. She later completed her master’s degree through study at Michigan State University in 1963. She was required to repay the scholarship by accepting a placement anywhere in Michigan for a two-year commitment. She was ecstatic that she was placed in Traverse City.

She met the love of her life, Paul Green, while in Holland, and after she moved, their long-distance relationship endured. They were married on July 26, 1952 and celebrated 53 years of marriage until Paul’s death in 2005. During their lives together, Ronnie and Paul were blessed with three children.

Ronnie had a great love of music, mostly classical, but above all, opera! As she would say, “if I could exercise to Offenbach or Mozart all the time, I think I could be very svelte and graceful.” She enjoyed many simulcast opera performances at the State Theater and hosted opera-watching parties with fellow enthusiasts. She never thought that she had much of a singing voice but found herself in multiple lead roles in community performances through the Old Town Playhouse, at the time, the Traverse City Civic Players. She was Vera Charles in Mame, Yenta in Fiddler on the Roof, and an “aging stripper” in Gypsy, to name a few.

As a lifelong early riser, her regular swims and walks at the community center and workouts at the gym, built many special relationships. Ronnie made a career of attentive listening. She took grammar very seriously; the incorrect use of “I” and “me” was like fingernails down the chalkboard and was quickly corrected, no matter the source.

She enjoyed movie watching, cocktail parties, crossword puzzles, weekend bicycle trips with friends, and playing a good round of bridge. She also loved travel, especially to visit loved ones.

She retired in 1989, after more than 40 years with the Department of Social Services, and in 2012 she moved to Jenison’s Sunset Community to be closer to her two younger sisters.

The family is grateful for the loving care provided by the staff of Sunset Manor and Emmanuel Hospice.

Ronnie is survived by her children, Barbara Blum, of Traverse City, Nancy (James) Farese, of Suttons Bay, William (Michelle) Green, of Grandville; her grandchildren, Courtney (Blum) VanBoxtel, Erika (Blum) Olson, Kate, Michael, and Ryan Farese, Owen, Leah, and Anna Green; her sister, Anne (John) Holmlund; and many nieces; and nephews who mourn the loss of their very special “Aunt Ronnie.”

Ronnie was preceded in death by her parents; husband, Paul Green; brother, William Finlaw; sister, Rosemary Commeret Penn; and son-in-law, Glenn Blum.

She will be remembered for her sage advice, generosity, optimism, lasting friendships, independence, and appreciation for “contrast.”

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