Community remembers Sue Bess

By David Fleet
Ortonville — Sue Bess was happiest knitting, helping those in need and serving the Village of Ortonville the community she loved.
Bess died June 24.
She was 74.
“Growing up mom was in the village government,” said Sarah (Gjelhaug) Bess, daughter. “She started in the 1980s and served on the Planning Commission, Downtown Development and Village Council for about the next 30 years.”
Eighteen of Sue’s 21 years on village council was as village council president.
“Mom wanted to make sure everything was done for the benefit of the community,” she said. “She tried hard to get sewers into town too.”
Her foundation of serving others was grounded in the Ortonville Lions Club.
“Dad (Al Bess) was always involved in the Lions Club and Mom got into that,” said Matt Bess, son. “The motto of the Lions Club is, ‘We serve,’ they both took that to heart. She loved this town.”
Sue would include her family with countless village activities, added Sarah.
“Mom helped initiate the Village Luminaries each December,” she said. “It was always so cold filling the luminary bags in the DPW garage. She took us kids with her. It was a good thing.”
Over the years Sue served on the Village Planning Commission, Village Council President, a member of the Michigan Mayors Association, Michigan Municipal League having served as their President.
Kay Green, on the Village Council for about 16 years with Sue serving as President Pro-Tem.
“Sue loved her family and the village,” said Green. “She would do anything for them. She put the Village of Ortonville on the map,”
“When Sue was elected Michigan Municipal League president, we’d participate in Mayor Exchange day together. Mayors from across the state would come to Ortonville and we’d go to their villages too. We learn so much in those exchanges. It was an amazing experience.”
Green recalled the MML convention on Mackinac Island they both attended.
“Sue was president at the time,” she said. “Many of the MML members thought I was president and were congratulating me on the accomplishment. I just ended up taking credit for it and Sue went along with it. We always laughed about that day. It was always a pleasure serving on the council with her.”
Family will receive friends on July 12 from 10 a.m. until the time of the service at the Village Funeral Home 135 South St. Memorial contributions may be made to the Edna Burton Senior Center, Community Christmas Toy Store or the Ortonville Lions Club. Envelopes are available at the funeral home. To send a condolence to the family please visit

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