THALER – Lila Grace (Smith) Thaler 97 of Lowell died peacefully on Dec. 15 2011 at Clark Retirement Community in Grand Rapids where she had been a resident for the past eight years. Surviving are her five children: Robert (Janet Patrick) Thaler of Bay City David (Karen) Thaler of Lowell Suzanne (Mike) Martens of Muskegon Stephen (Linda) Thaler of Kent City and Jerald (Janet) Thaler of Pinckney; 17 grandchildren: Brad (Melissa) Thaler Drew (Nancy) Thaler David (Kaylene) Thaler III Adam (Amie) Thaler Jay (Richelle) Thaler Betsey Walker Chrys (Jason) Kolenda Cara Thaler Joe (Randi) Thaler Lindsey (Armando) Rivas Dan (Marissa) Thaler Amy (Keith) Hussar Kristine (Mark) Peppin Scott (Sarah) Thaler Lisa Thaler Nicholas Thaler and Matthew Thaler; 24 great-grandchildren; one brother Bryce (Mary Ellen) Smith of Caledonia one sister-in-law Lois Thaler of Middleville one brother-in-law James Jackson of Arkansas and many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her husband Orion J. Thaler; a stillborn son Howard; her parents Robert and Mary Smith; three brothers John Elton and Edward Smith; and two sisters Leora Fay and Margaret Mutschler. Lila was born Sept. 15 1914 on the Smith family farm in Leighton Township Allegan County. She attended the one-room school in Corning and Caledonia High School where she graduated salutatorian of the Class of 1930 at age 15. She attended Grand Rapids Junior College and Allegan County Normal School and taught in one-room rural schools. She graduated from Western Michigan Teacher’s College in 1937 with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and taught in Battle Creek for two years. Following her marriage to Orion Thaler on June 29 1939 she taught for two years in Schoolcraft and then spent the next 14 years as a full-time mother. She returned to the classroom in 1955 to teach first grade in Lowell. She received her master’s degree in reading from Michigan State University in 1969 and was a reading specialist for Lowell schools until she and Orion retired in 1974. They celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in 1999. Lila was a member of the First United Methodist Church in Lowell for 66 years and was the oldest member of the congregation. For many years she was a school teacher and was active in the United Methodist Women and the district UMW. She was a co-founder in 1972 of the Lowell United Methodist Preschool which continues today. She also was one of the organizers of the Child Study Club in Lowell in the 1950s and was a den mother for Lowell Cub Scout Pack 3102 when her sons were in Cub Scouts. At Clark she was active in the creative writing group drama club and bell choir and had been secretary of the resident council. In her early 90s she published two volumes of memoirs I Remember and I Remember More. Friends may greet the family from 4 to 7 p.m. on Dec. 29 at the First United Methodist Church in Lowell. Memorial services will be held at 10 a.m. on Dec. 30 at the church and at 2 p.m. at Clark Retirement Community Grand Rapids. Internment of her cremains will be in the Leighton Township Cemetery Allegan County. Memorial contributions may be made to First United Methodist Church of Lowell the Orion and Lila Thaler Scholarship Fund at Lowell High School Lowell Senior Neighbors or the Clark Benevolent Fund.