Eileen Marie Hartsell Gioia, loving wife, mother and doting grandmother, passed away peacefully with her family at her side on Sunday, February 14th, at the age of 72.
Eileen was born on Oct 9, 1948 in Detroit, MI to Bud and Amy (Dickson) Hartsell. After graduating from Cody High School in 1966, she married Lee Lipiec in 1971. They settled in Fowlerville, MI where they raised two sons, Brian and Mathew, and a daughter, Jennifer. While their marriage wouldn’t last forever as they’d hoped, Eileen and Lee remained close friends. In 1992, Eileen married Jim Gioia, who became a devoted husband and step-father, dedicating the past several years to her care.
Eileen held a distinguished career in IT for the State of Michigan. She served the Michigan State Senate, Office of the Secretary of the Senate ,at the Lansing Capitol for 24 years. As System Administrator for the Senate Information Services, Eileen played a major role in guiding the Senate computer system through major infrastructure changes, including the implementation of the Senate’s first e-mail system. She was also a founding member and past President of the State of Michigan Novell Users Group. She retired in 2008, delighted to devote more time to her true passion, quilting.
Eileen enthusiastically participated in several local quilt groups: Capitol City Quilt Guild (past President), Rainbow Quilters and Quilters Anonymous. She volunteered thousands of hours to veteran charities including the Patriotic Pillow Project, sewing quilted pillowcases for wounded veterans to honor their sacrifice; Blue Star Moms, sending care packages and letters to troops overseas; and the No Soldiers Left Behind Project, for which she embroidered dozens of memorial plaques honoring Michigan’s fallen heroes. Eileen also sewed countless memorial quilts for military families, as well as her own family members. Quilting was so integral to her life, and her skill so highly esteemed, that the family will hold a quilt show at the memorial service, so friends may observe Eileen’s incredible works of art.
With a deep connection to home and family, Eileen’s grandchildren were the light of her life and she cared for them with absolute adoration. She appeared most content sitting in her backyard gazebo with her husband Jim, observing their grandkids playing in the pool. After retirement, Eileen and Jim loved to travel together, planning special trips every few years. Their highlight was a visit to Monte Cassino, Italy, the town where Jim’s mother was born. She also delighted in adventures with her Red Hat Ladies Group and holding “milk can stew” parties in the backyard for her many friends. Eileen was well-known for her quick wit, generosity, sincerity and warm smile. But it was her legendary never-give-in spirit for which she was most famous, as it guided every moment of her life. These exact words have been used to describe Eileen countless times over the past few years, by friends and strangers alike, and we all agree: “She is an amazing woman.”
Eileen is predeceased by her mother Amy Hartsell, father Bud Hartsell and grand-daughter Julia Kionis. Eileen is survived by her husband Jim Gioia and her three children, Brian Lipiec (Marya) of Webberville, Matt Lipiec (Jessica) of Howell and Jenny Hudak (Eric) of Sheboygan, WI, four step-children, Jill Gioia of Milford, Andrea Kionis of Milford, Jim Gioia Jr. of Livonia, and Kathryn Katzman (Dave) of Commerce, and seven grandchildren, Nycole Gioia, Jessica Kionis, Jack, Lilah and Lucy Hudak, Adeline and Milo Lipiec. Extended family include two sisters, Teddie Hartsell of North Carolina and Margaret Foote (Charles)of Florida, many wonderful cousins, nieces and nephews, as well as former spouse, Lee Lipiec (Terry) of Georgia. Close family friends include Joanne Esper, Terry Kreeger (Rick), Pat Adams (Mike), Jean Kaufmann, Cathy Stewart, Bev Fear, and the entire Kreeger extended family. Eileen’s family is forever grateful to these women and innumerable visiting friends for their overwhelming support, as well as the loving caregivers at Haven of Rest in Williamston and Nightingale Retreat in Howell.
A memorial service will be held at the Fowlerville Church of the Nazarene on 8040 Country Corner Dr. in the spring. In lieu of flowers, please donate to ALS of Michigan at www.alsofmichigan.org, a charity close to the family’s heart. Condolences may be written in care of the Herrmann Funeral Home of Fowlerville. Memorial specifics will be posted on their website once a date is determined.www.pjherrmannfuneralhome.com
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