Geneva Herndon Michael, self-called a “daughter of the Depression,” died Monday, September 7, 2020 in Shell Point’s Pavilion. She lived her life simply and surrounded by people she loved. She was the only child of John and Stella Herndon, early Settlers of Oklahoma, (then Indian Territory). She was born on 1921 in Durant, Oklahoma, grew up in Topeka, Kansas and started married life in Kansas City, Missouri.
She was an avid supporter of Washburn University in Topeka where she joined Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. This bond of sisterhood lasted throughout her life and was the basis of great joy and many dear friendships. While in Topeka she earned her pilot’s license with the plan to deliver war planes to military bases. That plan was interrupted by her meeting Mike (Delore) Michael. They met on a blind date in Kansas City and married in 1943 in Sioux Falls, S.D. where Mike was stationed. Since she could not deliver planes as a married woman, she never got to fulfill her avocation, but as she said, “I sure had a good time learning to fly.”
And fly she did. Geneva approached life in a high state of optimism, soaring to the top of most any endeavor she attempted. She was a talented leader, phenomenal needle-pointer, seamstress, cook, ace bridge player and uber organizer. Enthusiasm was a built-in part of her mien. One time, while in Kansas City, she and Mike followed Benny Goodman’s Band to five different nearby midwestern towns on five consecutive nights and danced in each venue. The love of dancing followed both of them throughout their lives.
Their son John was born in Topeka and their daughter Delores, (Dede), was born in Kansas City. The early years of childhood where spent in post WWII seengs with neighborhoods filled with children, many ex GI’s, and their families. For thirteen years the family prospered in Kansas City. Geneva became a leader as President of Kappa Alpha Theta Alumna. She was also very active in The League of Women Voters and her church.
She dearly hated to leave Kansas City when Mike started his own trade journal publishing company in
Chicago. As a concession, Geneva got to pick out which suburb they would move the family. She settled on Winnetka, Illinois with John starting High School and Dede going to the local elementary school. She made such fast friends while living there and she and the family reaped the benefits of a wonderful community, good schools, and a successful business career. Geneva worked for Mike as the Circulation Manager which fit nicely into her organizations as she could dictate her own hours. As the manager she made sure the subscribers were verified therefore justifying advertising rates.
In 1982, ager selling the business, Mike and Geneva started an organic vegetable farm in Spring Grove, Illinois. At its largest the farm consisted of 100 acres with 30 of those in tomatoes. Lady Bug Farms was truly a front runner in the organic movement and the farm to table approach to produce. With tongue in cheek, Geneva always complained that her Mother’s Day celebration always started with picking asparagus.
In the mid 90’s Mike’s health deteriorated, and they once again moved. This time to Amery, Wisconsin, where there was a small garden and a lake home. They wintered on Sanibel and ager Mike passed, Geneva moved to Shell Point to be near Dede and Bro D’Arcy. Once again, dear friendships were made, good times were had and the closeness of Geneva’s family made certain that there were many trips made by John, Vista and all the grandchildren and great grandchildren to check in on Gigi. Geneva was the epitome of optimism. She wanted her love of others to reflect in their happiness. She leg a happy legacy to us all.
She is survived by: Dede D’Arcy and John, her children. Dede’s sons Jim and Hamlet, their spouses Jan and Kristi respectively and Jim’s children, Winter and John and Hamlet’s daughter, Stella Rose. John’s spouse, Louise Vista and his children Alexis and Callan.
Contributions in her memory may go to P.E.O., hapter fv, with Geneva on the memo line. c/o Donna Aldrich, 1490 Albatross Rd., Sanibel, FL 33957