Gertrude M. Campau, age 95 years, moved on to eternal life Thursday, May 7, 2020 at her current residence where she had some truly loving care at St. Ann’s Home in Grand Rapids, MI. She was a very devoted Catholic and member of Immaculate Heart of Mary parish in Grand Rapids, where she volunteered at God’s Kitchen and served on the funeral luncheon staff. She was a very loving and caring person to so many and always went out of her way in helping those in need. She especially cared for all the children who needed additional love and help. Gertrude was born in Oscoda, MI on September 2, 1924 to her late parents Fred J. and Gertrude (Bowen) Campau. She spent most of her life in Bay City. She attended Visitation elementary school and graduated from St. Joseph H.S. She then went on to Bay Co Jr. College and later graduated with a BA from Central Michigan University. She received a full scholarship provided by the Diocese of Saginaw and graduated from Catholic Univ. of America in Washington, DC with a MSSW 1951-1953. She started her career as a Supervisor in Clinical Social Work and was hired by the first bishop of Saginaw (Bishop Murphy) to work at Catholic Family Services in Saginaw (1946-1951). She was then asked to open another CFS in Bay City (1953-1957) at the request of Bishop Wozniski. She later was on the staff at Westlund Child Guidance Clinic in Saginaw (1958-79). She finished her career as a member of the faculty at Grand Valley SU (1979-1983). She was a Charter Member of the National Assoc. of Social Workers; Fellow- American Orthopsychiatry; MI Soc. Of Clinical Social Workers; Member of the Bd of Dir. Of the Vineyard Home in Purgitsville, WV. Gertrude was preceded in death by five of her sisters, Regina (Elmer) Veitengruber, Virginia (John) Baird, Marguerite (Felix) Militello, Teresa (William) Switek, MaryJane (John) Bissonnette. She is survived by her sister, Maureen (Larry-dec) McNamara along with over 100 nieces, nephews, great nieces, great nephews, & great-great nieces & nephews. Gertrude spent 30 years of her life living with her sister Marguerite (Felix) Militello (Bay City) and their 11 children who she helped care for, while still maintaining her fulltime career. Mary (Dan) Shauger, Margaret (Julius) Remenar, Teresa (Bob) Wyma, James Militello (dec), Trudy (Lee) Avilla, Fred Militello, Dominic (Cari) Militello, Joseph (Melissa)Militello, Jeanmarie Militello Hagan, Rosemarie (James) Spencer, Felix (Donna) Militello. There will be a private family graveside liturgy, Mt. Olivet in Saginaw. Memorial Mass and Celebration of Life will be announced at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be sent to The Seminarian Endowment Fund, Catholic Diocese of Saginaw, 5800 Weiss St, Saginaw, MI 48603.
Gertrude M. Campau was born September 2, 1924 in Oscoda, Michigan. She was the fourth daughter born to Fred and Gertrude Campau. Gertrude was baptized at St. Anne’s Church in Harrisville, Michigan on October 12,1924. The family moved up north to Alpena and then down to Bay City in 1928. Gertrude attended elementary school at Visitation in Bay City. When it was time to enter high school, she went to St. Joseph on the other side of the river (at that time tuition was $30 for St. James, $20 for St. Mary’s and $10 for St. Joseph). In 1940, the family moved to Pinconning, Michigan but Gertrude and her sister Marguerite stayed in Bay City and lived with sister Regina and her husband Elmer. When they lived on the West side of town, they walked 3 miles and sometimes hopped on a railroad car to go to St. Joseph on the east side.
In 1941, Marguerite graduated from St. Joseph and got an apartment with Gertrude so she could finish high school at St. Joseph. The sisters cleaned houses and scrubbed floors to pay the rent and buy food. Gertrude graduated in 1942 from St. Joseph with little fanfare.
She went on to Bay City Junior College and received a scholarship to CMU in 1943. Gertrude took odd jobs and worked in a defense plant at night (World War II was going on). She lived in boarding houses (Marguerite moved in with her fiancé, Felix Militello’s parents during the war. In June of 1946, Gertrude graduated from CMU with a BA in Social Work.
Her first job after graduation was with the Catholic Charities in the Saginaw Diocese under the leadership of Bishop Murphy (the first bishop of the diocese). In 1946, Marguerite and Felix were married. In the summer of 1948, they bought a house and invited Gertrude to come and live with them. In 1951, Bishop Wozniski (the second bishop of Saginaw Diocese) offered her a two-year scholarship to attend the Catholic University in Washington D.C. to get her master’s in social work. What an honor and opportunity!
When Gertrude’s mother passed away in 1952 there were four Monsignors that celebrated the funeral Mass because of her position in the diocese.
Aunt Gert tells the story that her best years of her life were at Catholic U. After graduation, the Bishop requested her to open an office for Catholic Charities in Bay City where she stayed for about 4 years. In 1956, she took a job in Chicago for 2 years. However, Gertrude missed the Militello children and returned home. In October of 1958 Gertrude took a job at the Child Guidance Clinic in Saginaw until June of 1979. During all those years living with the Militello family, Marguerite and Felix brought eleven children into the family. Aunt Gert was a beacon of love and selfless giving to the Militello children. We could always depend on her for a helping hand and sometimes both hands! She was self-giving and always thought of us before herself. What a Blessing and a Gift from God that she was asked to come and live with the Militello Family.
In 1979 she moved to Grand Rapids and joined the faculty of Grand Valley State University. She taught there for four years. After 1983, Gertrude graded Standardized Test for the State of Michigan and other states. She had a heart for service and social justice and frequently volunteered at God’s Kitchen in Grand Rapids, helped foreign refugees find homes and jobs in Michigan, assembled food baskets at Christmas and Easter for the less fortunate children.
Always her first concerns were for the children and especially the children who were in need.
Aunt Gert surely practiced the Beatitudes, especially “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of God.” Aunt Gert requested that in lieu of flowers and any memorials and assets left in her name be given to the Seminarians Fund in Saginaw Diocese. This is her re-payment for sending her to the Catholic University in Washington D.C. Her way of saying, “Thank You.”