Erla JoAnn (Dowling) Thomas-Sawdey, 92, of Grayling, Mich., and formerly of Morenci, died Sept. 17, 2017, at Meadow Brook Medical Care Facility in Bellaire, Mich.
She was born Oct. 19, 1924, in Hudson, Mich., to the late John and Naomi (Wetherbee) Dowling.
Erla lived her early life in the Clayton area and graduated from the former Clayton High School in 1942. She married Elmer Thomas on Aug. 2, 1945, and they settled in Morenci where they raised their three children.
Predominately a homemaker, Erla was very supportive and involved in the many activities of the family. She worked for several years outside the home as a librarian at the Clayton Library and enjoyed the social exposure with the local patrons.
Elmer died suddenly of a heart attack on Oct. 9, 1966, a devastating loss for the family that left Erla widowed at the young age of 41. She later married Daniel Sawdey of Addison on July 3, 1973. They resided in Morenci for many years, and eventually moved to Devils Lake. They enjoyed wintering in Cudjoe Key, Fla., until his death in November 2000.
In recent years, Erla resided in Grayling to be closer to two of her children. She also loved the ample wildlife that the north country has to offer, including deer and turkeys. In addition to her appreciation for the outdoors, she enjoyed people and loved most to be in the company of her family, especially her grandchildren. She loved life, was up for almost any occasion, and loved the Lord.
Erla is survived by her three children, Connie J. (and Steve) Swander of Frederic, Mich., John R. (and Sue) Thomas of Manitou Beach, Mich., and Tom L. (and Kathy) Thomas of Bellaire; 13 grandchildren; and 15 great-grandchildren.
In addition to her parents and husbands, she was preceded in death by all of her siblings, Wanda Hutchison, John Dowling, Clifton Dowling, Ellamary Deline, Jeannette Lockwood, Jacqueline Shepherd, Rosalyn Dowling and Lyman Dowling.
A graveside service is planned at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 20, at Oak Grove Cemetery in Morenci.
Local arrangements were handled by Eagle Funeral Home in Morenci.