Emily Frances Hills Byrens passed away on Christmas Day, surrounded by family. She was born December 14, 1932, in Battle Creek, Michigan. She was the daughter of Helen Hope (Sackett) Hills and Dr. Carlon Russel Hills.
She grew up in Battle Creek and was very involved in music and the arts. She graduated from Michigan State College in 1953 and Union Theological Seminary in New York City two years later with a Master of Sacred Music degree.
While at Union, she met her future husband, Danford M. Byrens, who survives her after a marriage of sixty-seven years. Their shared love of music brought joy to their lives and the lives of those around them.
Emily and Dan had seven children who survive her: Margaret and Kent Kuiper of Bellevue, Dave and Kim Byrens of Marshall, Dan and Kim Byrens of Duck Lake, Robert Byrens and Jerome Nickels of Grand Rapids, Steve and Sonia Byrens of Marshall, Sue and Mike Wilson of Marshall, and Tracy and Rick Mulligan of Richmond, Virginia. They were blessed with thirty-two grandchildren and numerous great grandchildren.
Throughout the years, they brought their musical talents to churches around the state and the country, including: First Congregational Church of Battle Creek, St. Thomas Episcopal Church of Battle Creek, Trinity Episcopal Church of Marshall, and Olivet Congregational Church. In addition, they joined the music faculty at Olivet College where they served for many years.
Emily returned to school in the 1960’s and earned a registered nursing degree from Kellogg Community College. Soon she was juggling three jobs to support her family while Dan worked two himself. However, she always found time to attend her children’s many sporting events and performances.
After retiring from Olivet College, they accepted teaching positions in the music department at Silliman University in the Philippines where they made many lifelong friends.
After spending several years and serving a variety of musical positions in a Tennessee retirement community, Emily and Dan returned to the Olivet/Marshall area where they were surrounded by family and friends, including her nephew, Mike Love, and his wife Karla.
Emily was a truly amazing woman: wife, mother, teacher and friend who will be missed by all.
The family will hold a celebration of her life in the spring. If you feel moved to celebrate her memory, please make a contribution to Olivet College in her name in lieu of flowers.
Arrangements were entrusted to Kempf Family Funeral and Cremation Services 723 US Hwy 27 N, Marshall, Michigan 49068. Please visit httpe://www.kempffuneralhome.com to view the online obituary, to sign the online guest book or to leave the family condolences.