Flores Ellen Pitcher may have left Sebewaing in 1922 but
in many ways she never left her “home”. Flores
was the 10th child of 13 children by George and Susan (Tarry) Pitcher, Jr. She and her 12 other siblings, 6 other girls
and 6 boys, lived on the corner of Beck and Sebewaing
Though called “Shorty” by her family, she was 5’ tall; it never deterred
her from playing High School basketball.
Athletics were a big part of her life and she eventually became
proficient in horseback riding, fencing, bowling and golf.
Flores left Sebewaing to go to Michigan
State Normal College
in Ypsilanti, MI
(now known as Eastern Michigan
University) to get a teaching
degree and received her License to teach on August 8, 1924.
True to her belief in continually learning and moving further than her
early beginnings, she was the only one of her generation to receive a College
Degree. Although there would be many
firsts for this third generation Pitcher she would always remember “home”. During college, Flores
used to return to Sebewaing on the inter-urban train
to be close with her family as a result of her mother, Susan Pitcher, dying in
Born on May 6,
1905, Flores received her middle name from
her mother’s sister, Ellen (Tarry) Dutcher, who died in March of that
year. As for her given name, she told
her children that their grandmother read a lot and obtained names that
way. She loved animals (except snakes
and spiders) and had numerous pets throughout her life, including a rooster as
a child, with her last being a miniature poodle.
Flores made her way to Detroit after her college days,
living for awhile with her older sister Violette Honora (Pitcher) Gross before
finding a flat with a dressmaker on Detroit’s Eastside where the streetcars
took her to work. Since this was the Depression era, she used to send clothing
and other items home to her younger siblings and her beloved widowed father.
Her independent spirit showed itself throughout her life,
as she loved to travel. In 1931, she went west to see Bryce, Zion,
Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and
Glacier national parks and to Lake Louise/Banff in Alberta,
Canada. In 1934, she cruised on the Cunard liner RMS
Mauritania through the Panama Canal seeing Panama,
Colon, La Guira, and Williamstad.
In that same year she went to the Chicago
World’s Fair. These trips were made
while she was single, but there would be more adventures when she married.
Flores worked for a period at the
Continental Baking Company in Detroit
and eventually began working in 1928 at the Detroit Edison Company as head of a
stenographic and typing pool. It was
here that she met her husband Bernard H. Ronan, a mechanical engineer, whom she
married in 1941. She converted to
Catholicism at this time as well. It was
obvious that Bernard liked to visit Sebewaing with Flores
and enjoyed the company of her father, sisters and brothers. These trips “home” would continue frequently
after their three children were born (Michael Ronan currently of Phoenix,
AZ, Paul Ronan currently of Troy,
MI and Patricia Ronan-Redding also of Troy,
Flores always told her children she gave them
their names as a reaction to so many people throughout her life asking her,
“What did you say your name was?”.
Interestingly enough Flores was
never far from water. Born by Saginaw
Bay and Lake Huron,
she and her family would live in Grosse Pointe Woods,
MI within walking distance of Lake
Her children would know all about Sebewaing and her
family’s impact on the town as dinner time was a wonderful opportunity for Flores
to tell stories - of her grandfather who died in the Civil War; his wife who
lived with them; her father’s life as a commercial fisherman and her mother’s
involvement with the community.
Flores and her family continued to travel as her children
grew up; crisscrossing the United States
and Canada. She and her husband would visit Hawaii
and Europe as well.
In keeping with her belief that education was a key to greater
opportunities, each of her three children would receive higher educational
degrees; Michael received a Bachelor’s Degree from the University
of Detroit and a Master’s from the University
of Michigan. Paul would receive an Associates Degree from Macomb
County Community College. Patricia would receive a Bachelor’s Degree
from Wayne State
University and post-graduate
courses from Oakland University. Interestingly enough, Michael and Patricia
both taught for awhile before moving into other occupations. Her children would also travel, as their
mother had, going to China, the Soviet Union, Hong Kong, Korea, Southeast Asia,
Europe, and the British Isles to name just a few places.
Flores would live to see only one
of her 4 grandchildren, Marc Edward Ronan born in 1974 (child of Michael and
Emily Ronan) and a graduate of Brown University,
in Providence, Rhode Island. Marc’s middle name derives from Flores’
favorite brother, Edward George Pitcher.
But she definitely would be delighted with Catherine Ann (Ronan) Horne,
a nurse and daughter of Paul and Peggy Ronan; Susan Ellen Ronan daughter of
Michael and Emily Ronan. Susan has
completed an Associates Degree in Business and is now studying to be a
teacher. Susan’s name derives from her
great-grandmother, Susan Tarry Pitcher, and her own grandmother’s middle
name. Both Catherine and her cousin
Susan were born the year Flores died 1975. Her fourth grandchild is Elizabeth Ann
(Ronan) Schoonfield, daughter of Paul and Peggy Ronan. Elizabeth
has an Associates Degree in Business.
Flores Ellen Pitcher Ronan left Sebewaing as she dreamt of
a world beyond her birthplace. It was evident though to anyone who met her that
she retained constant contact with her family in Sebewaing and throughout the
Thumb and that as she grew and prospered her values and ideals were firmly
rooted in her upbringing in the town named “crooked river”.
Written by Patricia Ann Ronan-Redding in loving memory of