Wesley Pearl Larner took his first breath of life on December 20, 1923. He was born in St. Charles Township to George Ray and Esther Ellen (Leffingwell) Larner. Most of his life was spent on the farm originally purchased by his grandfather. With a great deal of joy and a celebration, the farm was registered as a Centennial Farm in 2004.
Wesley is one of seven sons born into his family. David, Robert, Linus, Gerald, Clarence, and James were his much-beloved and admired brothers, as well as his sister Margaret. Wesley and all the Larner children were quite rambunctious, adventurous, hard-working, excellent engineers and problem-solvers. Wesley leaves behind a legacy of honesty, integrity, love of God and country, generosity, persistence in all tasks, living within ones’ means, and thriftiness. He saved whatever might be of use, and he believed in fixing things instead of replacing them.
A barn fire forced the family to move to Flint and they lived there during the Depression. Wesley fondly recalled walking to the day old bread store with Mr. C. S. Mott. Though times were hard, the family was hopeful, a lesson Wesley took to heart. It is in Flint that one of the few pictures of Wesley’s childhood was taken: a photo of Clarence, Wesley and Jim in a goat cart.
The family eventually returned to St. Charles Township, necessitated by the illness of Grandpa Larner. Wesley graduated from Chesaning High School and began assuming responsibilities for the farm and dairy operation. Wesley responded to two draft notices during World War II. Taking a bus to Detroit, the draft board sent him home both times to work the farm, Wesley’s contribution to the war effort.
Wesley met his calling when he took over the family farm. His attitude was that you farm as if you are doing so forever. He treated the land with the greatest respect. Since he often sang or whistled while he worked, he was happiest outdoors, caring for animals, driving tractor, and walking the fields. He belonged to the Ponto Grange and was a charter member of the Michigan Farm Bureau. When he made the difficult decision to retire from farming, he then planted bigger gardens and strawberry, raspberry and black raspberry patches while still watching over the hay, corn and soybeans.
Wesley did whatever it took to provide for his family. He worked hard on the farm, yet circumstances made it necessary for him to take a job at the V-8 Engine plant in Flint, still working the farm for many of those years. He retired from the parts department, a job he enjoyed for its challenges and opportunities to converse with others.
Though he could not read a note, Wesley loved to sing, had a beautiful baritone voice, and often harmonized with those around him. Many happy hours were spent around the piano as a family singing hymns and American tunes. Wesley whistled and yodeled while he worked, and played the harmonica. Later he enjoyed calling square dances, listening to bluegrass, playing spoons, and the limberjack. There was also a time when Wesley built and played dulcimers.
Wesley was an active member of Trinity United Methodist Church. He was Sunday School Superintendent as a young man, sang in the men’s choir and served as treasurer for the United Methodist Men for many years. He loved being in worship; he loved being around people, and he loved telling stories. His family is most grateful for all the church friends and others who listened to and conversed with Wesley throughout the years.
Wesley and Margaret Lyndal Blakeslee were joined in marriage on October 2, 1948. Theirs was a genuine partnership in life and work. Together they raised five children: Susan, Gayle, Joseph, Janet (Peter J. Sivia), and John. His legacy also includes grandchildren Diana Evans, Christopher Huckeby (deceased), and Kathryn Sivia. Great-grandchildren are Tyler, Austin and Madisyn Evans.
An important person in Wesley’s life was his father-in-law, Floyd Blakeslee. Wesley admired Floyd as a person and as a farmer. Wesley assisted Floyd in the construction of the cabin on Little Bear Lake, a place he thoroughly enjoyed when he was there, which was not often, given his farm responsibilities.
Given the size of Wesley’s family, he was blessed by in-laws, nieces and nephews. David and Marion, Robert and Edna, Linus and Lillian, Gerald and Betty, Clarence and his wives Hildegard, Pat and Edna, Margaret and Wayne, George and Marilyn and Jerome and Helen and their children all added layers of joy to Wesley’s life. He looked forward to the Larner Family Reunion and the Blakeslee Easter Gathering, since he appreciated spending time with his extended family of many generations.
Wesley took his last breath on June 23, 2018, at home surrounded by those who love him, Margaret holding his hand. His big, generous heart finally gave out. The family is grateful for the kind words and visits from friends and family, the assistance Covenant Visiting Nurse Association, and for all who held Wesley and his family in prayer.
Rev. Timothy Woycik will officiate at the memorial service for Wesley, which will be held at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, June 30, 2018, at the Trinity United Methodist Church, 1629 W. Brady Road (M-57), Chesaning. His family will be present at the church to greet relatives and friends from 9:30 a.m. Saturday until time of the memorial service at 11:00 a.m.
The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, memorial gifts be designated to Trinity United Methodist Church.
You may light a memorial candle or share a condolence on Wesley's obituary page at misiukfuneralhome.com.