May 13th 1911 - Aug 16th 2012
One can only imagine the many things George Stocking has seen and experienced in his lifetime. For 101 years, he witnessed the world around him change politically, socially, religiously, culturally, and personally. From revolutions to wars, wheels that barely turned, and wings which could hardly fly, he saw so many things come full circle through cultural and technological advancement. It is, however, the heart of George Stocking which will be fondly remembered.
George's story began at a time known as the Progressive Era. America was experiencing a period of social activism and political reform which flourished the economy. William H. Taft was the 27th President of the United States, and Orville Wright set a ten year record with his nine minute, 45 second flying debut in a glider. Man reached the South Pole, and the first electric car starter paved the way for the future of automobiles. Amidst these times of change and economic evolution, there was much anticipation in the lives of Bernie and Lena (Hanel) Stocking while expecting the birth of their second child.
On May 13, 1911, the Stocking's welcomed the birth of their son, George Bernie Stocking into their hearts. He was the younger brother to his sister, Mildred, born and raised in the village of Elk Rapids, Michigan where the Stockings made their home. With a rich family history, George Stocking's sixth great grandfather, also named George, came to the U.S. from England around 1660. From him, most of the Stockings in the United States are direct decedents. With the onset of World War I, times of uncertainty plagued the world around him. Even so, young George led a typical childhood for the times sharing playful adventures with neighborhood friends in their close knit community. He attended the local schools, and went on to learn a good work ethic.
From coast to coast, times of hardship made for years of struggle during the Great Depression. From big cities to the small community in which George was raised, economic travesties befell all, and George's family was no exception. When the U.S. became involved in World War II, the financial well-being of America saw light at the end of the Depression era tunnel, but at a very high price. At the young age of 18, George joined 15 million comrades overseas during World War II. For four years, he honorably served his country in the U.S. Navy as a Chief Petty Office aboard the USS Barnes Aircraft Carrier in the Pacific.
After his honorable discharge from the service, George settled into a job working in the accounting department of the Grand Rapids division of Consumers Power Company. For 43 years, he was diligent in his work, never missing even one day! Known by his co-workers as "Ol Socks" and "Money Bags", he went on to be one of the founding members of the Consumers Power Credit Union. He had a keen sense of humor and, after the war, enjoyed regaling his family with stories of his experiences aboard ship and on shore.
George married the love of his life, Mary H. Waleczek on January 7, 1949. He made a good life for himself and his wife, Mary. Although they never had children of their own, they did share the love of those who became close to them. He and Mary were inseparable. Extended family so-to-speak, George entrusted several of these special people in his life as if they were his own.
In his free time, George was an avid golfer. Well past the age of 80 years old, he even made two holes-in-one. After retiring from Consumers. George and Mary spent time at one of their three homes. Grand Rapids was the place they called home, while their place in Oldsmar, Florida was a getaway from the cold Michigan winters. They together found time for relaxation at their summer cottage in Montcalm County, Michigan. Although he lived most of his life in Grand Rapids, he often spoke fondly of Elk Rapids, where he was born and raised
Generous of heart, it wasn't unlike George to lend what he had to others in need. A true gentleman in every sense, he never had a bad day in his life. With a positive attitude and outlook, George leaves much to be remembered for his unwavering and giving heart. For all he was, and for all he gave, George will be deeply missed.
At the age of 101, George Bernie Stocking passed away on Thursday, August 16, 2012 at Pilgrim Manor in Grand Rapids. George was preceded in death by Mary, his wife of 53 years on March 22, 2002 and his sister, Mildred in 2004. Although he had no biological children, Mr. Stocking was a dedicated father, grandfather, great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather. He is survived by his stepdaughter, Barbara Carpenter of South Haven; stepson, Ronald (Pat) Duryea of Alto; seven grandchildren and many great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. He also is survived by his sister-in-law Angeline Vander Woude of Grand Rapids. Visitation and the service for Mr. Stocking take place Monday, August 20, 2012 at the Heritage Life Story Funeral Home - Van’t Hof Chapel, 851 Leonard St NW from 11:00 AM until the time of the service at 12:30 PM. Burial in Maple Grove Cemetery, Elk Rapids, Michigan. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com to share a favorite memory and photo of George and to sign his online guest book.