She was born as Anna Amelia Balis in Kent County, Mich. She was raised in Lithuania as an indentured servant, after her mother drowned during a ferry crossing while on a visit back home. Her siblings remained in Lithuania , but “Millie” returned to America at age 18 and lived with her father until her marriage to Adolph in 1935. Their 61 years together ended at his death in 1996. They had two daughters, Shirley Helmer of Fountain, Mich., and Lillian Riley of Rockford; grandchildren, Cathy Desotell, Colleen Donahue, Linda Riley-Kruppa, Virginia Hillman, and James Riley; 11 great-grandchildren; and six great-great-grandchildren.
Millie never attended school but taught herself English, reading and writing. National Geographic was her favorite publication. Archeology fascinated her. As an excellent seamstress, she made her own clothes, coats and mittens as well as her daughters’. She knitted, crocheted, worked with wood, canned, was a great cook and had a very green thumb. She will be remembered with joy.
Arrangements were made by Pederson Funeral Home, Rockford.