“I’m not afraid of going. I know God keeps His promises.”
Lois E. (Sill) Vorrath of Monroe, 86, died at peace January 27, 2018 after a four month bout with pancreatic cancer. She was known for bringing her unique energy, creativity, and frankness to an active life in business and her church.
Lois was born January 19, 1932 in Berrien Springs, Michigan to Harry and Mabel (Melchert) Sill. She was the youngest of two boys and three girls who grew up on a farm where they learned about compassion toward animals and how to be self-sufficient. “On a farm you can be self-sufficient… it only takes 24/7.”
She graduated from Benton Harbor High School in 1950. She took a job at whirlpool in St. Joseph where Wallace J. Vorrath was a co-worker. Lois remembered first talking to Wally Vorrath at a dance in Stephensville, but he didn’t ask her out on a date until six weeks later after he bought a new Oldsmobile to impress her. They married on November 12, 1955 in St. Joseph. Always talented in a range of fields, Lois made her own wedding dress after taking a sewing class in high school.
Wally had served in the Army during the Korean War and told Lois he had saved his military pay in order to go into business. As newlyweds, they began a search for a business opportunity that would work for them. When Wally was laid off at Whirlpool their search became urgent. Lois’s sister and brother-in-law had moved to Florida and invited the couple to visit and learn more about the restaurant business. That led to an invitation to hear about Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise opportunities and they were convinced to take the leap. They got a $10,000 loan and began to learn how to run a business. “We went to KFC school for a week and then we were on our own.” They received valuable advice from vendors, bankers, and other business owners. Eventually they would own eight KFC restaurants in Adrian, Monroe, Hillsdale, Flat Rock, Tecumseh, and Defiance, Ohio. They even hosted a visit from Colonel Harlan Sanders in 1975 when they won the company’s White Glove Award for superior cleanliness. They retired in 1996 to a home in the Irish Hills. Her husband died on September 30, 1998, after which Lois moved back to Monroe and built a home in Carrington.
She loved nature and the outdoors and she instilled these values in her children and their friends by organizing camping trips and canoeing on the River Raisin. J.J. the dog was always a companion on those excursions.
Lois was accomplished in painting, pottery, sewing, decorating, bonsai art, flower arranging, and gardening. “I’m one who has to be busy.” She founded the Eden’s Garden Club. Her pride and joy was her Carrington home where she created a lush wooded area of wildflowers and other plantings. Lois’s garden and home were even featured in Monroe Magazine. Her bonsai pots have been sold at Hidden Lake Gardens. She was a member of Trinity Lutheran Church and its Ladies Aid, also having made all of the floral arrangements for the altar.
Lois is survived by a son: Scott W. of Erie; a daughter: Shelly A. of Monroe; best friend: Betty Wilhelm; one brother-in-law; three sisters-in-law; and several nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her husband, siblings, and her cat Mrs. Nervosa.
Friends may gather from 3:00-8:00pm on Friday, February 2, 2018 at Merkle Funeral Service, South Monroe, 14567 South Dixie Highway (734) 241-7070. She will lie in state from 10:00am until a funeral service at 11:00am on Saturday, February 3, 2018 at Trinity Lutheran Church, 323 Scott Street. Procession will follow to Roselawn Memorial Park in LaSalle for burial.
Memorials are suggested to Trinity Lutheran Church Building Fund or to the Monroe County Humane Society. Online guests may visit www.merklefs.com.
The family wishes to express their deepest gratitude to Promedica Hospice, Visiting Angels, LaPrad Nursing, and TLC SWAT for their loving care and support.