Ella Faye (Ellenberger) Droste Roberts, 86, of Onaway, died at Medilodge of Rogers City Wednesday, January 31, 2024. Visitation was held at Chagnon Funeral Home Friday, February 2, and resumed at North Country Baptist Church Saturday, February 3 until the time of the funeral service. The Rev. James Brabson officiated. Ella’s final resting place will be at Waverly Township Cemetery. Those planning an expression of sympathy please consider a donation in memory of Ella to the church of your choice.
The only daughter of George and Vivian (Strayer) Ellenberger, Ella was born in Onaway March 28, 1937. She graduated from Onaway High School in 1954, went on to get her teaching certificate from County Normal, and then worked as a teacher in a one-room country schoolhouse. With the changes in requirements for teachers, Ella left the classroom to work as a secretary at the local radio station where she met her first husband, Paul Droste. They were married at the First Baptist Church in Onaway in December of 1961. To their union they were blessed with two daughters and a son. Though Paul and Ella eventually divorced, they remained good friends. Ella later married William “Bill” Roberts Sr., January 14, 1983, in Onaway. They made their home in Defiance, Ohio until Bill’s retirement in 2000 when they returned to their hometown to spend their retirement years. The were blessed with nearly 30 years of marriage at the time of Bill’s death November 21, 2012.
A teacher, secretary and factory worker were Ella’s vocations during her life, but her greatest job was being a wife and mother. Devoted to her family, she was selfless by putting their needs above her own. She encouraged them to be the best they could be. Her role as a mother and grandmother emphasized unconditional love, strength of spirit, and generosity. She was gentle, kind and nurturing, yet had high expectations for her children and grandchildren. She loved her family above all, prayed for them constantly and was proud of all their accomplishments.
Besides devotion to her family, Ella’s other great love was God. Strong in her Christian faith, she read the Bible and prayed every day. She was a member of the Onaway Baptist Chapel where she was the church pianist and a Sunday school teacher.
She planned Christmas programs, church dinners and gospel sings. In fact, through the years and the many places she lived and worshipped, Ella planned over one hundred gospel sings. A talented musician, Ella taught herself to play the piano, organ and accordion. She played by ear, not learning how to read sheet music until after she had been playing for many years. Passionate about music, especially gospel music, Ella wrote her own songs and even made a record.
Ella was a longtime member of the Waverly Friendship Club. Her hobbies included knitting, tatting, writing letters and sending cards. She knitted dish cloths, crocheted blankets, and tatted doilies, crosses and beautiful Christmas bulbs.
Throughout the year, Ella sent out hundreds of cards and letters, at the rate of six hundred postage stamps a year. She sent cards for birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, Christmas and just because. Written with love, her letters were heartfelt and sent to friends, family, and sometimes to people she didn’t even know.
Ella accepted everyone with an open heart, open arms and a perpetual smile. She had immense passion for her family, spiritual work and music. She was gracious, kind, giving and accepting. She had a way of finding good in everyone and every situation. Her prayer list was long as she prayed for everything and everyone. Short of performing miracles, Ella was a saint. And though she was a sweetheart with a gentleness about her, she also was tough. She spoke her mind when needed and had no issue voicing disappointment or disapproval. Being the baby sister to four older brothers, Ella was just a little protected, but she also knew how to stand her ground. She had a wonderful sense of humor, often joking or making funny remarks. As the little sister, she loved playing practical jokes on her brothers.
Ella will be missed and remembered by many lives she touched. She leaves her daughters, Joy (Gary) Elwell of Onaway and Ruth (Dan) Reid of Dade City, Florida; a son, Paul Droste (Carla Lemmon) of Onaway; foreign exchange student son, Jose Hernandez of Alcapolco, Mexico; stepdaughters, Regina (Rick) Franks of Amarillo, Texas and Rebecca Roberts of Port Huron; a stepson, Bill Roberts Jr., as well as many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren. She also is survived by her brother, Fred Ellenberger of Onaway; sisters-in-law, Beverly Ellenberger of Saginaw, Lola Ellenberger of Millersburg and Ginger Swoffer of Port Huron; brothers-in-law, Jack Roberts of Lake Orion and Gary (Jane) Roberts of Cheboygan; her former husband and good friend, Paul Droste and his wife, Kathy, of Frankenmuth; and many nieces and nephews.
Ella was preceded in death by her husband, Bill Roberts Sr.; stepdaughter, Kelly Grantz; brothers, Samuel, Edward and Larry; and sisters-in-law, Bethel and Vivian Ellenberger.