After a valiant battle with cancer, Mitzi passed away peacefully at Rose Arbor on December 2 at the age of 83. She was the younger daughter of Leonard Henry Kohring and Helen Amelia (Gerding) Kohring. Born on July 12, 1935 in Toledo, OH, she grew up in a loving family who empowered her boundless curiosity and interest in art, design, ideas, nature and what would become a life-long passion for adventure and travel to distant lands. As a young girl, she spent summers traveling with her family to the Smokey Mountains, the Grand Tetons and Black Hills, Yellowstone National Park, Washington D.C. and Mount Vernon. She attended Bowling Green State University, where she received a bachelor's degree in Education and was a member of Alpha Xi Delta sorority. Her natural beauty and magnetism earned her the title of May Queen in her freshman year at BGSU, while her intellect, artistic talents and dynamic personality captured the hearts of all who knew and loved her along the way. She met Joseph DeLuca, of Niagara Falls, NY, in her freshman English class, first admiring his curly black hair that framed the collar of his Army ROTC uniform. They were married immediately after graduation from BGSU on June 10, 1957 ("because all the relatives were already in town.") Twins followed one year later (Joe and Julie), and a third child followed four years after that (Dana). Mitzi and Joe raised their family at 2222 Tipperary Road, where the door was rarely ever locked, and where friends, neighbors and travelers were always welcomed in for a glass of wine and cherished conversation in the kitchen or on the back patio. Her marriage of twenty seven years was one of immense love, laughter, socializing, community activism, and international exploits and escapades. Mitzi and Joe's mutual love and respect for each other endures to this day. Ever innovative and creative, Mitzi was a talented artist, and skillful in a variety of media including drawing, painting, sculpture, weaving and sewing. Globe-trotting soon followed. As Mitzi's favorite saying goes, "She was often gripped with the desire to be elsewhere." And elsewhere is where you could usually find her. To her children, Mitzi passed along her love of travel and the importance of valuing experiences over material possessions. Travel excursions with each of her children were paramount to Mitzi (with Italy being her favorite destination). One could say she had wanderlust. She began her decades-long career in the travel business at Ambassador Travel, eventually becoming a certified travel consultant and leading U.S. and overseas cross-cultural travel tours for student musicians through the Performing Arts Abroad program. Mitzi co-owned and operated Bon Vivant Travel in Parkview Hills for a number of years, eventually setting her sights on a new endeavor known as Travel Diplomat, a travel agency owned and operated solely by women. She finished out her professional career as Marketing Director at the Kalamazoo Airport, earning the prestigious ADDY award for the "You've Arrived" promotional branding campaign. Mitzi's passion for neighborhood revitalization and community collaborations was brought to life as landlord and house whisperer of the Wall Street Properties, a series of rental homes located in the historic Vine neighborhood. She was happiest when her hands were in the dirt, nurturing native plants and strategizing over the right combination of flowers to best attract butterflies and bees to her beloved Wall Street gardens. Mitzi is survived by her sister, Julia Blakesley Sherwood (Bob), former husband, Joseph DeLuca (Anne Leonardi), in-laws Carl and Judy DeLuca, three children, Joseph DeLuca (Marla), Julie DeLuca (Tom Leibold), and Dana DeLuca (Ken Greschak), 8 grand-children, Lucas Leibold, Amelia Leibold, Olivia DeLuca, Emma Greschak, Gabriella DeLuca, Meghan (Dan) Waite, MacKenzie Greschak (Molly Deacon), and Tressa Greschak (Alex Demetralis), twin great-grandsons, Lincoln and Harrison Waite, nieces Jennifer Blakesley (Charlotte Corbit) and Andrea Blakesley, and nephews Glenn Blakesley (Tina von Moltke), David DeLuca (Joseph Bankston) and Dan DeLuca. A celebration of Mitzi's remarkable life will take place in the spring. In accordance with her wishes, memorial contributions in Mitzi's memory may be directed to the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy or Planned Parenthood of Kalamazoo.
Donations may be made to:
Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy
8395 East Main St., Galesburg MI 49053
Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc.
Attn: Online Services, P.O. Box 97166, Washington DC 20090-7166
Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
314 S. Park Street, Kalamazoo MI 49007-5102