Sharon Pratt
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Pratt, Sharon Sharon Pratt (Conn), aged 79, returned to nature on March 23, 2021, at her home, surrounded by love, peace, and family. She was preceded in death by her father, Robert Lawrence Conn; mother, Irene Florence Williams Conn; in-laws and dear friends Ann and Stanley Pratt. Sharon is survived by her children Joanna Pratt, Rob and Kelly Pratt, Mike and Ginney Pratt, and Sarah Pratt; grandchildren Delaney, Cooper, Keagan, Wilson, Ryan, Holden, Owen, Easton, Cade, Zora, and Jaya; sister, Carolyn Barr; her children's father, Nick Pratt; her good dog, Jake; as well as many other friends and family members. Sharon was born on November 28, 1941, in Kansas City, Missouri to Bob and Irene Conn. The family moved frequently, and she and her sister, Carolyn, were each other's constant companions. They spent hours exploring the outdoors together, and although Sharon was younger by a year and a half, her curiosity and daring often made her the leader in their adventures. She also became aware of injustices and inequities in the world at a young age, which led to a lifelong passion for reading, education, and social justice advocacy. Sharon was especially close with her grandmother, Phanetta Mae Bruce, whose time spent being a teacher in the Ozarks, working at an orphanage, and baking great cupcakes made her Sharon's hero. She also remained very close with her sister, with whom she shares history and knowledge that only the two of them will ever know or understand. In recent years, they talked on the phone every single day at 6 p.m., sharing life stories, updates on their families, opinions on books they had read, and their strong opinions on current events. They were each other's best friends and consistent supports throughout their lifetimes. Besides Kansas City, Sharon and her family spent time living in Des Moines, IA, Indianapolis, IN, and Highland Park, IL. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a major in history and a minor in social studies, and she later earned her Masters in Counseling Psychology from Western Michigan University. Although her formal education was in counseling, Sharon was always a social worker at heart. She spent most of her professional career as a social worker at Family and Children Services in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Her tenure there was marked by commitment and innovation, and one of her proudest accomplishments was her role in bringing some of the first home-based family services to the Kalamazoo area. Sharon served as the director of Home Community Intervention when she retired in 1999. Those who knew Sharon know just how important social work was to her. Her passion for people and equality made her time as a social worker more than just a career for her. In her own words, Sharon said, "beyond it being a job, there is a genuine concern for what happens with the family." Through her time as a social worker, she was able to help countless families as well as mentoring many social workers, making her impact on the Kalamazoo area last long beyond her time in the field. Sharon was the proud mother of four children Joanna, Rob, Mike, and Sarah Pratt. Her kids share memories of epic trips up north, with everyone, including the dog, crammed in the VW Rabbit. They also remember her determination to raise them as well as she could. She may have been small in stature, but she was an example to her children, and many others, of a strong woman - raising her children, building a career, fixing (sometimes more successfully than others) the family car, helping her boys dress for their first hockey practice, encouraging all of her children in whatever sport, instrument, or other interest they took up, and even playing soccer herself at the age of 40. She taught her sons and daughters that women deserve the same respect and opportunities as men, and that all people in society deserve care and attention, not just those that fit in easily. Above all, she taught her kids how to love fiercely and unconditionally, and she is reflected in them in so many ways - most especially in how they have each gone on to form their own families and raise their kids. As her son Rob put it, "she is Wonder Woman, Catwoman, and Mighty Mouse all rolled into one." Sharon was the loving grandmother of 11 grandchildren. Even though she was a grandmother to many, one of her gifts was the ability to have a unique, close relationship with each of her grandchildren. Whether it was through a well-thought-out gift, an impromptu lunch, seeing her cheer in the crowd, or a simple card in the mail, Sharon was able to make all of her grandchildren feel loved and special. She passed on many of her passions and interests to her grandchildren. Even when some of her grandchildren weren't so sure if they liked reading, Grammy made sure to give them a good book on one of their hobbies for when they changed their minds. Sharon was an endless fountain of knowledge and opinions, leading to the creation of 11 passionate, unique grandchildren who adore her. Sharon's love of nature was one of her many special qualities. Some of her most treasured memories took place along the shore of Lake Superior, especially in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan where she spent many summer days with her family. After retiring, Sharon moved to Marquette, MI to truly immerse herself in nature the way she wanted to. She spent time walking on the beach, swimming, snowshoeing, and more. When she moved back downstate years later, she told many stories of her time in Marquette, often centered around Lake Superior, a very special and symbolic place for her. Her love for the outdoors and Lake Superior has been passed on to her children and grandchildren, all of whom spend time on the lake every summer. When she wasn't outside, Sharon was often found with a book in her hand, watching Wolverine football, or attending one of her many grandchildren's sporting events. Sharon also was very politically active, encouraging everyone around her to vote and she worked the polls on election days. Sharon was always ready to educate those around her on what was going on around the world - especially her grandchildren. Sharon will be remembered by those who knew and loved her in many ways: as a blueberry snob, a bookworm, a New York Times crossword legend, a lover of nature, an advocate for equality, an excellent baker, and so much more. While all of these things made her the unique person she was, at her core Sharon was a peaceful woman who loved her family and friends above all else. Fiercely loyal, curious, passionate, intelligent, and loving, Sharon, Mom, and Grammy will be missed by so many. However, she will be with those who loved her in games of cribbage, walks by Lake Superior, sunsets, finding beach glass and rocks, bird watching, a good book, and cookies made with Crisco. There were so many things that made Sharon uniquely herself, so perhaps the best way to summarize who she was as a person is through one of her favorite quotes: Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves... Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer. – Rainer Maria Rilke Sharon was cremated, as per her final wishes. A private family memorial is taking place, and a larger Celebration of Life is being planned for a later time, when COVID precautions allow us to safely gather and remember our mom, grandmother, sister, aunt, friend, colleague, and mentor. As you remember Sharon, remember her favorite motto, adopted from John Lennon: "Imagine Peace." The family requests that persons wanting to honor Sharon's memory make donations to one of the organizations that she was passionate about: Equal Justice Initiative, Leader Dogs for the Blind, and the Superior Watershed Partnership and Land Conservancy.

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Published in Grand Rapids Press from Apr. 21 to Apr. 22, 2021.
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April 21, 2021
Eternal blessings my friend
Tom Patton
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