GLADSTONE, Michigan – Susan Joy Solka, 77, of Gladstone, passed away peacefully on Sunday, May 9, 2021 at Bishop Noa Home in Escanaba.
Susan was born August 14, 1943 in Green Bay, Wisconsin, daughter of Violet (Johnson) and Roderick Virgo. She graduated in 1961 from Escanaba High School. In high school, she played the bassoon. She was a two-time finalist in Ms. Delta County’s competition and also served on the Queen’s Court in 1963 for Escanaba’s centenary. Susan continued her studies at Northern Michigan University where she obtained a secretarial certificate. She worked as a secretary for Harnischfeger in Milwaukee, Wis.
Susan and her husband, Dwight Harwood, operated The BBQ restaurant in Rapid River for three years, then the Swallow Inn from 1971 to 1983. She also worked as a Baybank cashier and was promoted to receptionist for the loans department for six years. . Susan retired as secretary for schools in the Escanaba region after 16 years. She loved every job she did and put her heart and soul into it.
Susan was a selfless, kind and gentle person who always made sure everyone was having fun and eating well. She loved being with her family and friends, especially at Christmas. Its Christmas Eve gatherings are legendary.
Her sunny disposition was always apparent, she was fun to hang out with. On quiz nights, not only was she a great source of good answers, but she was also often the life of the party. During a long and difficult illness, she maintained her optimistic attitude and her hope for the future. She will be sincerely missed.
Susan loved to travel and take cruises with her husband. She loved trivia and watching Jeopardy. She supported the Gladstone Jobs Daughters Bethel and volunteered for YAP, Youth Action Program.
Susan is survived by: her son Michael (Mindy) Harwood of Saxapahaww, North Carolina; two daughters, Holly (Paul) Peoples of Gladstone, Michigan and Pamela (Kiowa) Kirchoff of Alpena, Michigan; two brothers, Scott Virgo of Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Keith Virgo of Escanaba, Michigan; sister, Gwen Wood (Orrin Bailey) of Buchanan, Michigan; seven grandchildren, Natalie Harwood, Andrew, Dylan, Kelsey MacNeill, Mitch Pfiefer, Claire Bryan and Jiri Solka; one great-grandchild, Sevi MacNeill; and four nieces, Jenny Keskey, Dana (Keith) Virgo-Weintraub, Erin Virgo and Laura Virgo.
In addition to her parents, Susan was predeceased by her husband, Richard Solka Sr., and her brother, Bruce Virgo.
Sue’s family would like to warmly thank the family of Sue’s North Woods Place; to the Bishop Noa Home team for their compassionate care and in particular to the OSF St. Francis Hospital team during their recent stay. Sue received exemplary care at OSF from Dr. Joseph Steele.
The family will receive friends on Friday, May 14 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Skradski Funeral Home in Gladstone. Susan’s funeral services will follow at 5 p.m. at Skradski Funeral Home in Gladstone.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be directed to the Myotonic Dystrophy Foundation, www.myotonic.org/donate-towards-myotonic-dystrophy-care-and-cure. The Skradski Family Funeral Homes in Delta County are helping the Solka family. Please visit www.skradskifuneralhomes.com where you can leave a message of condolences to the family.