Obituary: Ethel Morningstar, 97, of Shelby.

November 29, 2021

Ethel Morningstar

Obituary: Ethel (Near) Morningstar, 97, of Shelby.

Doing for others. That was Ethel. Sewing pajamas for a grandchild. Serving dinner for friends after Sunday worship. Teaching a prenatal class. Helping a friend to can peaches. Having young grandsons stay overnight. Offering a hand-decorated plate to a visiting niece. Baking a red velvet cake for a grandchild. Writing letters to a daughter, a cousin, a friend.

Ethel Lucile Near was born January 16, 1924, to Frank Horace and Verna Belle Near in Shelby, Michigan.  She died peacefully November 27, 2021, at the age of 97, after a long stay at the Oceana County Medical Care Facility in Hart.

A graduate of Shelby High School and then the Hackley School of Nursing in Muskegon, Ethel was a proficient and well-loved nurse at Mercy Health Lakeshore Hospital in Shelby.  She retired in 1987, after 34 years working there.

As a maternity nurse, Ethel created fond memories for several generations of families. Often, you will hear women say, “Ethel was there for my mother when she gave birth to me, and then she was there for me, when I gave birth to my children.”

During her nurse’s training, Ethel became so close to her nursing school friends that – even far into their retirement years – they continued to have regular get-togethers.  Several times, Ethel had doctors-in-training stay at her house while they were doing internships at the hospital, and she particularly enjoyed a student dietitian she hosted.

She was a devoted member of the Reformed Mennonite Church in Shelby. She leaves behind close Mennonite friends, including young people who consider her their grandma. Ethel enjoyed working in her yard, and even in that she was doing for others: Many friends have said how much they enjoyed walking or driving past Ethel’s house and stopping to talk with her while she was tending the landscape.

Ethel is survived by her four children and their spouses,  Mark (Linda) Morningstar, Linda Morningstar (David Hedges), Jane (Terry) TenBrink, and Carol (Kevin) Cummings; her sister-in-law, Betty Near;  her former daughter-in-law,  Phyllis Auble; her “adopted” daughter from Uruguay, Lila Liñares; numerous fond nieces and nephews, cousins, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and a great-great-grandchild.

Among those who preceded Ethel in death were her former husband,  Bert Morningstar; her brothers,  Everett (Juanda) Near, Fred Near, and Burl Near, and her sister Carolyn (Alvin) Milner.

Visitation will take place on Saturday, December 4, from 10 a.m. to noon at Harris Funeral Home in downtown Shelby. Visitation will be followed by a graveside service and interment, officiated by John Near, at the Mennonite Cemetery, 2000-2098 S. 96th Avenue in Shelby.

In lieu of flowers:

You may want to make a contribution in memory of Ethel, to one of these programs that would be dear to Ethel’s heart:

  • The Future Nurses Scholarship at Muskegon Community College, (The Hackley Hospital School of Nursing, where Ethel received her nursing diploma is now a program at MCC.) To contribute, either donate online: , under Choose of Program, click on other, then under other, type in: Future Nurses Scholarship or send a check payable to: Foundation for MCC, write “Future Nurses Scholarship” in the memo line; mail to: Muskegon Community College, 221 S. Quarterline Road, Muskegon, MI 49442.
  • The Nurse Assistant Program of the American Red Cross, which provides up-and-coming nurse assistants the curriculum, clinical experience and expertise required for licensing and certification (Ethel assisted year after year at Red Cross blood drives. She held in high esteem the people trained by and working for the American Red Cross.) To donate, write a check payable to The American Red Cross; write “Nurse Assistant Program” on the Memo line. Mail to: American Red Cross, PO Box 37839, Boone, Iowa 50037. You will receive written confirmation of your gift.
  • The Student Emergency Fund, to enable Michigan State University students in the health care field (including the School of Nursing) to afford housing while doing their clinical rotations throughout the state (students will be grateful for this support, just as several students were grateful to stay in Ethel’s home during their clinical rotations at Shelby’s hospital.) Make check payable to Michigan State University and in the memo line write: “Appeal 21OOPCF1NURSGT.” Mail to: University Advancement – Spartan Way, 535 Chestnut Road, Room 300, East Lansing, MI 48824.

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