Emily
Emily "Grandma" Bartko, left, and Evelyn Kroupa holding the music for her; unsure of the others (Update: Eunice Gray is in the middle on the couch) | Mary Johnson Photo
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As with many Old Mission Peninsula residents from my parents’ generation, Evelyn Kroupa has been a part of my life since I was born. And even though she passed away many years ago, she continues to be a big part of my life.

Many of you know that my mom, Mary Johnson, played the organ at Old Mission Peninsula United Methodist Church for more than 50 years. For much of that time, the person sitting across from her at the piano was Evelyn Kroupa.

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Mom and Evelyn always practiced the music before church – either at Evelyn’s house on Kroupa Road or at the church before the service started. I would tag along with Mom for these rehearsal sessions, and it was a joy getting to know Evelyn and watch them pull the music together for church, through many pastors, choirs, children’s choirs, bell choirs and Easter and Christmas Cantatas over the years.

The origins of Peninsula Cellars can be traced back to Evelyn and her husband, Don, as their son David and his wife Joan launched the business with their first vineyard on the family’s Kroupa Road farm in 1991. Their first wines were released in 1994, and their first tasting room, located in the Old Mission General Store, was launched in 1995. The Kroupas ran the tasting room there for six years before moving the business to their current location, the Maple Grove Schoolhouse on the corner of Center Road and Carroll Road.

In May of 2015, the Kroupa family farm was formally recognized as a Centennial Farm by the Historical Society of Michigan. This designation honors that the ownership of the farm has remained in the Kroupa family for more than 100 years. Many of Peninsula Cellars’ vineyards are located on this property. David and Joan’s son, John Kroupa, is now the managing partner for Peninsula Cellars.

Pictured, Don and Joan Kroupa, founders and owners of Peninsula Cellars. In May of 2015, the Kroupa family farm was formally recognized as a Centennial Farm by the Historical Society of Michigan. This designation honors that the ownership of the farm has remained in the Kroupa family for more than 100 years | Peninsula Cellars Photo

Back to Mom and Evelyn … of course, they were involved in many of the same community and women’s groups through the years. These pictures taken by mom were at some of those gatherings. (Mom was all about the action photos.)

Update from Brendan Keenan and Teri Gray: In the first photo, the woman in the center on the couch is Eunice Gray, Teri’s grandmother.

Emily "Grandma" Bartko, left and Evelyn Kroupa holding the music for her; unsure of the others, although that may be Reba Dohm second from right | Mary Johnson Photo
Emily “Grandma” Bartko, left, and Evelyn Kroupa holding the music for her; unsure of the others | Mary Johnson Photo
Evelyn Kroupa foreground; I believe that’s her daughter-in-law Joan Kroupa in the back | Mary Johnson Photo

Many times as I was growing up, I would play my violin in church, with Mom and Evelyn accompanying me on organ and piano. It was all great training for what I do now – which is play my violin in that same church every Sunday, with Michele Zebell on piano, Keith Long on guitar, and Tyler Long on trumpet. My life has come full circle as I now find myself taking over where Mom left off, bringing music into the church every Sunday. And not a Sunday goes by that I don’t think of Mom and Evelyn playing music together there.

When I graduated from Traverse City Central High School in 1978 and went off to the Cincinnati Conservatory to further my violin studies, Evelyn crocheted me a beautiful “throw” to take with me, which I still have today…

Blanket made by Evelyn Kroupa for Jane Johnson Boursaw | Jane Boursaw Photo
Crocheted “throw” made by Evelyn Kroupa for Jane Johnson Boursaw | Jane Boursaw Photo

I found this recipe for Evelyn’s Oatmeal Cookies in the Ogdensburg Community Cookbook, circa 1982. I haven’t tried it yet, but I love that it’s not just your standard oatmeal cookie recipe. It includes peanut butter, coconut and corn flakes.

If you try this recipe and modify it in any way, let us know how it goes in the comments section below. And if anyone remembers eating these cookies when Evelyn made them, let us know that, too!

Evelyn Kroupa’s Oatmeal Cookies

  • 1 c. Oleo
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1 c. white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. peanut butter
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 c. coconut
  • 1 c. oatmeal
  • 4 c. corn flakes
  • 2 c. sifted flour
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Combine all ingredients and chill the dough. Roll cookies to size of walnut. Place on greased cookie sheet and press down lightly. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. Makes about six dozen cookies.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. My Mother Eunice Gray, to her left may be Lucy Montague, wife of Tom. My Mom, Lucy, Tom and my Dad, Lewis, were fast friends and neighbors. Tom and Lucy lived on the west end of Gray Road on the north side. Their family farm is gone now.

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