Jean Dring Veselenak, 82, died peacefully during the early morning hours of Wednesday, September 27, 2023. Jean Alice Dring was born May 29, 1941 to George and Alleyne (Cheney) Dring in Chicago, Illinois. She attended school in Blue Island, Illinois where she lived with her family until her graduation in 1959. She attended Ripon College in Ripon, Wisconsin, finishing her education in the spring of 1963 with a primary-school teaching degree. She was soon hired to teach third grade in Flint.
While in Flint, Jean met Joseph “Joe” H. Veselenak, a physical education instructor and football coach at a nearby school, and the two married June 12, 1965. The next year the young couple moved to a little cabin on Hammond Bay in Presque Isle County when husband Joe began teaching physical education and coaching high school football in the Rogers City school system. She began teaching at the Rogers City Elementary School soon after the couple moved to Rogers City in 1967.
Jean took some time off to focus on raising their children Joseph Jr., Aaron and Mary. During these years Jean became active in the local community. She was instrumental in the founding of the Presque Isle County Historical Museum. She was a founding member and president of Rogers City’s Ecology Club and started the area’s first recycling program, setting precedence for other towns in Michigan at a time when recycling was in its infancy. The program involved local businesses and high school students and became so successful Jean was asked to be interviewed on a well-known tv show. As a lover of nature, Jean had a special passion for wildflowers and birds of Michigan and became an activist to protect undeveloped land. Jean along with fellow members of the Westminster Presbyterian Church organized an annual “Hunger Walk” for many years, raising funds to combat world hunger. Before returning to teach grade school full time in the fall of 1986 she taught a number of years in the area PREP preschool program. Her greatest passion was the many children she taught over the years.
Jean is survived by three children, Joseph Veselenak of Belding, Aaron Veselenak of Ocqueoc and Mary (Benjamin Zavala) Veselenak of Rogers City; six grandchildren, Gavin Veselenak, Amelia and Arlo Pritchard, and Amelie, Maximus and Cristian Zavala; and two brothers, Ross (Pat) Dring of Tinley Park, Illinois and Ralph Dring of Bloomington, Illinois. She was preceded in death by her parents, George and Alleyne Dring; a sister, Nancy Dring; and husband, Joseph.
A memorial service will be held Saturday, November 18, at 11 a.m. at St. Luke Episcopal Church in Rogers City. A visitation will begin at 10 a.m. A luncheon and sharing of memories will be held at Beck Funeral Home following the service.
Donations in memory of Jean Alice Dring may be made to Sunrise Side Pantry or Liberty’s Dream Animal Rescue.
Further information and a location for online condolences can be found at www.beckfuneralhome.org.