Dee was raised on a hog farm near the banks of the Mississippi River and, at an early age, fell in love with the piano, which would shape her life. She played the piano in high school, college and with several professional bands. After graduating from Western Illinois University with a teaching degree, Dee taught in a rural one-room schoolhouse. A year later, she joined the Betty McGuire band in Chicago and played throughout the Midwest. In 1945, she joined the Joy Cayler all-girl band of Denver, Colorado, playing from coast to coast as well as a stint with the USO during World War II at Army and Navy bases in the states, the Philippines, Japan and other islands.
After the war, Dee joined the Dolores Klukoski String Ensemble, playing in hotels throughout the Midwest including Chicago, New York City, Grand Rapids and Grand Haven. While playing at the Schuler Hotel in Grand Haven (now Kirby Grill), she met her husband of 23 years, Wilbert “Wilb” Scholtz while on a tour of the Story & Clark piano factory.
Dee and Wilb married in December 1950. He preceded her in death in 1973 at the age of 62. Dee taught second and sixth grades at Holmes Elementary School in Spring Lake, typing and shorthand at Spring Lake High School, and later became secretary to the Spring Lake superintendent, working for Ted Rycenga, Jim Huggins and others.
Dee loved the Spring Lake and Grand Haven area, volunteering at NOCH and First Presbyterian Church of Grand Haven, and walking her little dogs in Duncan Woods and the cemetery. Her love of music and the piano never wavered playing daily, mostly from memory up until a few years ago.
Survivors include her sons, Will (Kathy) of Spring Lake and John (April) of Grand Haven; daughter, Sarah (Steve) Goodnight of Mokena, Ill.; six grandchildren: Drew (Carly) of Spring Lake, Megan (John) Mosholder of East Lansing, Lauren (Gary) Naughton of Lockport, Ill., Carrie Marrone of Lockport, Ill., Sophie and Elinor of Grand Haven; and nine great-grandchildren: Ainsley, Alice, Ina, Paige, Emma, Miles, Jace, Bea and Kent.
Dee was preceded in death by her brothers-in-law: Hock Scholtz, Larry Gardner and James Donnelly; and sisters-in-law: Mary Gardner, Grace Scholtz and Evelyn Coffman.
A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Friday, November 23, 2018, at First Presbyterian Church with the Rev. Troy Hauser Brydon officiating. Memorial contributions in memory of Dee may be given to the Ottawa County Parks Foundation. P.O. Box 314, West Olive, MI 49460. Please sign the family’s online guestbook at www.sytsemafh.com.