Cover photo for Karen Lynn (Zelle) Vance's Obituary
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Karen Lynn (Zelle) Vance

October 6, 1953 — March 9, 2023


Karen Lynn (Zelle) Vance


Karen Lynn (Zelle) Vance, devoted wife, daughter, mother, sister, and grandmother entered her eternal home on March 9, 2023, age 69. Karen Vance was born October 6, 1953, in Wichita, Kansas to Robert and Dixie Elaine (Reid) Zelle. After a junior high and high school courtship, she married Thomas Vance on December 16, 1972 at Bridgeport Community church, and his adoration for her lasted throughout their 50 years together. While she enjoyed her work in medical billing at Saginaw Cooperative Hospital and at General Practitioner Dr. Henryk Pietrus’s office, all who loved her knew her true passion and zest for life came from time spent with her family and her unselfish commitment to others.

From a young age, Karen was a devoted family matriarch, planning birthday party sleepovers and memorable holidays for her much-loved siblings. As she and Tom raised their own children, they created memories together, camping, enjoying sports, and focusing on time as a family. Together, Tom and Karen united their love of sports and family to help organize the startup of AYSO soccer in Frankenmuth. Always her children’s and grandchildren’s biggest cheerleader, Karen never missed a dance recital, school event, or hockey tournament. She could also quickly become the staunchest defender of her

boys’ hockey team when a fight broke out on the ice. From sledding down the hill with her young children to building sandcastles or playing holiday bingo with her grandchildren, she knew that making memories with those she cared about was most important. In her later years, Karen selflessly adopted her great niece and nephew, loving them and worrying about them just as much as she did her adult children and each of her grandchildren. Devoted to her family, her love for laughter and a good story were contagious and a part of all of the family’s times together.

Karen was an active member of Bridgeport Community Church and enjoyed regularly participating with Community Crafters. While she loved her family fiercely, Karen also cared for others and gave willingly of her time and talents. After celebrating the arrival of her two adopted daughters, Karen’s heart led her to assist Rotary Club Adoptions in connecting other families with children from Central America. She took great joy in maintaining connections with the families that she assisted.

While her heart for caring for others is treasured, it is the simplest moments that her family will miss the most. Whether singing, laughing, and telling mildly

inappropriate stories around the campfire in Ludington with family and life-long friends or enjoying a cold beverage while having a good laugh on the beach, Karen had a zest for living and laughing that will be deeply missed.

Surviving besides her husband Thomas are father, Robert Zelle (Marilyn); four sons, Thomas (Stefanie) Vance of Aliquippa, PA; Jeffrey (Goldeene) Vance, Sherman Oaks, CA; Mark (Heather) Vance of Grand Blanc, MI; and Gabriel Vance of Frankenmuth, MI; daughters, Joanna (Jacob) Guerriero of San Diego, CA and Shaye Vance, Frankenmuth; eleven grandchildren, Savannah, Abigail, Olivia, Emmaline, Roman, Penelope, Silas, Indie, Samuel, Presley, and Isla; sisters Lisa (Dan) Verus and Linda Zelle; brothers Robert Zelle and Larry Zelle; brother and sister in-laws, and many special friends. The family would like to extend a special thank you to Dr. Steven Vance for his extensive assistance, care, and support throughout Karen’s brief illness. In addition, thanks are due to the nursing staff on the second floor of Covenant Harrison for the quality care provided. Karen is now celebrating being reunited with her beloved mother, Dixie Elaine Zelle and her daughter, Angela Vance.

To honor Karen, her family is planning a private celebration of life for family and friends in the summer of 2023. Those planning an expression of sympathy may wish to consider memorials to Bridgeport Community Church or Covenant Hospice Care Services.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Karen Lynn (Zelle) Vance, please visit our flower store.


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