Mattie Lee Townsend

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Mattie Lee Townsend, 92, of Gaylord, MI, died peacefully at French Manor Assisted Living in Traverse City, on Easter Sunday, April 12, 2020.

Mattie Lee was born on January 12, 1928, in her parent’s home in Hallock, a former Otsego County pioneering town between Gaylord and Elmira. Mattie Lee’s parents were Clarence and Margaret (Justice) Buckler.

Mattie Lee grew up in the years after the depression, but never mentioned that the family was in need of anything. They lived on a small farm with gardens, a cow, chickens, and neighbors who shared what they could.  Mattie often spoke of childhood memories, walks of a mile or more, with her siblings, to visit neighbors and the adventures they would have on the way.

Mattie worked in Gaylord as a bookkeeper during high school, which turned into her life’s work until she retired at the age of 80. In the early 1970s, Mattie Lee started her second career as a realtor. She eventually owned a RE/MAX franchise and later started her own company, Townsend Associates. Mattie Lee loved showing properties and helping people find their dream home, vacation home, or land to build on. She became friends with many of her customers and was a top-selling realtor for several years.

Mattie attended Gaylord First United Methodist Church most of her life, and for many of those years was a soprano in the church choir. She and her mother often helped with the annual church bazaar. She was a 4-H cooking instructor for several years.  Her daughter and friends always had a good time in the kitchen, while her son, Kevin, was the taste tester. Mattie Lee was elected to the Gaylord School Board and served for a total of eight years.  A number of those years she served as president, enabling her to present her daughter, Karen, with her diploma at her 1975 high school graduation.

Mattie Lee was a board member of the State Girl Scout Council for several years. She was also a hospice volunteer and would sit and comfort families, overnight, if necessary. Mattie Lee took a People to People trip to China in 1980. Upon her return, she shared her adventures with family and friends via slide shows. Mattie lived her life in Gaylord and only moved to Traverse City in the last few years to be closer to her daughter. Later in life, she traveled to Florida during the winter months and loved to spend the day on the beaches of Anna Marie Island.

Mattie Lee was married to Raymond Townsend for 48 years, until his death in 1996.

She is survived by her son, Kevin (Sue) Townsend; her daughter, Karen Gleason; grandchildren, Mark (Jamie) Gleason III and Katherine (Jeff) Howard; three great-grandchildren, Allie, Ruger, and Grace; sister, Nancy Peabody; brothers, Clayton and Billy (Lois) Buckler and many nieces and nephews.

Mattie Lee will be greeted in heaven by her parents; her husband; her sister, Betty Keeslar; her brother, James Buckler; her brother-in-law, Fred Peabody; her son-in-law, Mark Gleason; and her sisters-in-law,  Lydia Buckler and Nila Buckler.

Family gatherings were always a highlight in Mattie’s life. Many years ago, her brother, Clayton, contributed the following to a family recipe book: “The favorite recipe found at the Doremire-Buckler dinner table consists of the following ingredients and cannot be found anywhere else: family, conversation and plenty.”  All of her family understands that phrase perfectly.

A family memorial service will be held later this summer.

Funeral arrangements were entrusted to Nelson Funeral Home and Cremation Service, PO Box 1548, Gaylord MI 49734.


25 comments on “Mattie Lee Townsend”

  1. I have fond memories of Mattie Lee when she was our office bookkeeper and then later as she devoted her many talents to the community. Always delightful and cheery. A life which definitely needs to be celebrated. Blessings to her family.

  2. Linda Hayes Wiseley

    Kevin, Karen and families. I’m so very sorry to hear of your mom’s passing. I remember her. always being present at school functions, especially each and every band concert when Kevin and I were in the same woodwind section. Gaylord was certainly blessed to have her commitment to the community and schools. May flights of Angels sing her to her rest

  3. Mattie Lee was a big help to us when we first moved to Gaylord. She was always so friendly and professional. So sorry for your loss.
    Your family is in our prayers. Doug and Connie Squires

  4. Karen and Kevin, so sorry to hear of Mattie’s passing. She was a treasure to so many of us and my Dad (Jerry), so enjoyed serving with her on the School board. She was a Family member to us all! 💜

  5. Jim & Barb Lappan

    Mattie and Ray lived across the street for many years on U-Court, fond memories of that time. May she rest in peace. Our condolences to all family members.

  6. Mattie Lee was a sweet lady. One day back in the summer of 1980 or 81, I was hitch hiking to the state park from downtown and she picked me up. We chatted the entire time and she dropped me off. Come to find out she was friends with my father and she kept him in the loop as to how we met. Gaylord was a good city to grow up in because of people like Mattie Lee.

  7. Phyllis Kelley-Gill

    Thank you for your years of service to Gaylord Community Schools. My condolences to Kevin and Karen

  8. Jamie Busch Mero

    It was such a pleasure working with Mattie Lee on the board of Hospice of the North. She was an inexhaustible firecracker and we could always count on her to keep meetings lively. She had an indomitable spirit and a real zest for life that showed in her every endeavor.

  9. Kevin and Karen so sorry for the loss of your mother, She was a dedicated lady in dealing with all of her business and school activities. God bless all of you.

    1. christabelle vigil

      Mattie Lee worked at Garrett Realty with my Dad for many years and I got to know her when I came on board my Junior/Senior year in high school. She had the best smile, a great sense of humor and carried herself with such grace and confidence. Always ready to lend a helping hand, and gave the best advice. Our family always admired Mattie Lee and our small town of Gaylord was a better place because of her…And now heaven is too! God bless and comfort to her family and friends, Love Christabelle (Garrett) Vigil

  10. MeLissa (Head) Olson

    Mattie Lee was one of the favorites of my dad’s (Bill Head) over the years. He even named his English Bulldog after her and I have a little memorial garden set up with a bulldog named Mattie —- just said hello the other day as I was cleaning the garden up for the spring. I am sure those two are giving each other a little grief once again!

    My condolences to the family, but thank you for sharing this wonderful woman with our community for so long.

  11. I had the honor to serve with Mattie on the Gaylord Board of education. We became great friends after that and it continued during her stay at Aspen Ridge Retirement Village! She was quite a woman, She always gave good advice and was willing to help people any way she could!

    Mattie will be missed by all that knew her!

    Mattie and Ray are back together again.

    My thoughts and prayers are with the family.

  12. Cynthia Prusakiewicz

    Dear Kevin and Karen,
    So sorry to hear of the loss of your mother, we’ve had many family memories together. Prayers and love, Cynthia Prusakiewicz.

  13. I’m so sorry for your loss. Mattie was a big part of my life as we grew up. She was a beautiful woman and a wonderful friend to my mother.

    Peace be with you and your families.

    Barbara Wolf

  14. Norman R Hayes

    I am very sorry to learn of the loss of your mother. I have many fond memories of your mom. May you find peace and comfort.

  15. Karen Gleason

    Thank you to all who have sent condolences. The last 12 years have been difficult dealing with Mom’s dementia. It is so nice to hear from people who knew Mom when she was a vibrant business woman and active in community activities.

  16. Mary Ellen Fox

    Karen, Kevin and families – Condolences on your Mom’s death. I’ve always regarded Mattie Lee as a real pioneer of leadership for women years before her time, and I greatly respect her many accomplishments. Having grown up playing euchre with your grandparents (Dove & Wayne), I feel a sense of kinship with the two of you. You and your families represent a wonderful legacy, and you’ve made your parents and grandparents immensely proud. I extend my loving thoughts and prayers.

  17. Katherine Henderson

    Ray and Mattie were involved in Real Estate when I was their secretary. Always loved her laughter and such a sweet couple. Condolences to the children.

  18. I was honored to be able to take care of Maddie Lee when she was at Aspen Ridge. I remember the day she moved in and very much enjoyed all of the time I got to spend with her. She will be missed.

  19. So sorry to hear of the passing of your Mom. We met her back in 1976. My parents moved us up from Detroit to A tiny town called Wolverine. She helped my parents buy a house and then continued to keep in touch through the years. She also helped my father in law buy a house in Wolverine, latee sell that and buy property to build on. When ii came time for My husband and I to buy property in 1988 she helped us out again. We loved her, she was so kind, helpful, funny and she sure didn’t let anyone push her around.

  20. Patricia F. Merritt

    We moved to Wolverine in 1976. Mattie helped us find the house we rented and then after a couple years she helped us buy the same house we were renting. She was always willing to answer our questions and such a joy to spend time with, never to busy to listen and come up with solutions for rental problems.

  21. Helga Heath Nov. 18, 2020. Pat and I lived across the street from Mattie Lee. We would go for walks around our neighborhood and take her on a color tour.She was my friend and I would visit her at Aspen Ridge later. A couple of times she sang a beautiful song there with me accompanying her on their beautiful grand black piano. And sit outside on the bench and enjoy the weather. I miss her. Just got this from my neighbor Shari.

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