HARVEY, MI – Austra Grote, age 77, of Harvey, entered eternal life Sunday, October 18, 2020, at Mill Creek Assisted Living Facility.
Austra was born January 27, 1943, in Rucava, Latvia, a daughter of Toms and Katrine (Kalejs) Prilaps. The family emigrated to the United States via the ship General WG Haan, arriving in New York August 20, 1950. The family settled in Minneapolis, Minnesota where Austra was raised, the most daring of the four children, and loved playing tennis. She graduated from Central High School in Minneapolis and following graduation moved to California. Austra met her future husband, Harry Grote, while attending a tennis match arranged by an eventual brother-in-law. She proposed to Harry and the couple was married on August 25, 1973, in Los Angeles, California. They made their first home in Tujunga, California. Throughout the years, Austra was employed in the insurance industry and as a floral designer.
While looking at a few areas in which to retire, she and her husband explored Marquette, a place with which her husband who had lived in lower Michigan was familiar. The natural beauty and cultural opportunities, including NMU, thrilled them, and they moved here in 2004. The couple shared a zeal for music, delighting in live performances by the Marquette Symphony, the Pine Mountain Music Festival, and NMU students and guest artists at Reynolds Recital Hall. They were very generous supporters of UPAWS, avidly gardened and shared vegetables, fruit, and flowers with friends. They loved entertaining small groups with satisfying meals and lively conversation and were devoted NMU Men’s Hockey fans, meeting players through the Blue Line Club. A member of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Harvey, she coordinated meals through Prince of Peace to provide for Habitat for Humanity teams building homes, often visiting with the teams during their meal. She frequently made and artistically presented delicious refreshments for church fellowship times, including Christmas teas, and annually organized a group of friends to attend Carols in the Cathedral, followed by a lively meal at The Landmark. Her other hobbies and interests included collecting moose decor items, being an avid Green Bay Packer fan, and having a huge love of animals. Over the years, she had several wonderful pet companions, both dogs and cats, and volunteered at a wildlife sanctuary in California for 20 years. This facility received large animals such as tigers and boa constrictors who were sick or injured, nursed them back to health, and provided them a home for the remainder of their years. While residing in California, she received training and counseled elderly citizens there about how to handle age-related changes and choices they were facing. Often determined, her friends enjoyed her droll sense of humor. In addition to being an active member of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Harvey, she also belonged to the NMU Blue Line Club.
Survivors include her sisters, Kate Riekstins and Alma Prilaps; sister-in-law, Dzintra Prilaps; and nephews, Ron and Eric Prilaps.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Toms and Katrine Prilaps; husband, Harry Grote; and brother, John Prilaps.
A virtual service will be held at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church on Tuesday, October 27, at 11:00 am and will be live streamed on the church Facebook page.
Interment will be made in the Park Cemetery Columbarium with her husband.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to UPAWS (Upper Peninsula Animal Welfare Shelter) P.O. Box 968, Marquette, MI 49855 or Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, 555 Riverside Road, Marquette, MI 49855.
Fassbender Swanson Hansen Funeral and Cremation Services is serving the family, where condolences may be expressed online at fassbenderswansonhansen.com