At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Friends of Michigan Veterans Homes
PO Box 805
Grandville, MI 49468-0805
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Strong, courageous, and deeply devoted to the people and things he believed in, Anthony Hendges was a blessing to everyone he met. Life was not without times of trial for him, but he faced whatever came his way head on and never complained. Tony loved the community he called home, and he lived there while serving as a firefighter. It was easy to see his family was his greatest source of pride and joy, and he loved being with them.
His parents, Anthony and Mary (Kowalczyk) Hendges, eagerly anticipated the birth of their new baby as winter was giving way to spring in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1939. The big day finally arrived on March 25th when their baby boy, Anthony James arrived. He was the oldest of three children and was raised in the family home on Lane, and later Leyden. He was raised alongside his sisters, Connie and Mary Sue. His father worked driving a truck to support the Hendges’ family, while his mother was a busy homemaker.
In many ways, Tony was a young boy of his generation. He was known to be a bit mischievous at times. This mischievous spirit displayed itself when he decided to be a bat boy for his uncle Butch (James Hendges) instead of being an altar boy at Sacred Heart. He couldn’t be both. He attended Sacred Heart Elementary and later went on to graduate from Union High School in 1957.
As a young man, Tony enlisted in the Navy. He honorably served from 1957 through 1959. While in the military, he was a clerk on the Admiral’s staff and stationed in Italy. After being discharged, he returned to Grand Rapids and worked in the local gypsum mines. In 1960, Tony accompanied a friend to take the fireman’s test. He chose this career path, while his friend not.
Tony and a friend, Bob Czarnecki, were driving along Fulton, and noticed a couple of girls walking. Since Tony’s friend knew one of the girls, they stopped and asked if they needed a ride. The girl’s friend, Mary Ann Grachtrup, ended up sitting next to Tony. They dated for a couple of years, and committed to spend the rest of their lives together. Tony and Mary Ann were married on May 26, 1962, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Grand Rapids. They took a honeymoon in Niagara Falls.
The newlyweds initially lived in an apartment on Lincoln Ave NW, but a year later they built their only home, located at 255 Carpenter NW. Tony affectionately referred to his wife as “Dove” while the guys at the station called her “Lucky.” Together they were blessed with the births of four children including Anthony in 1964, Randy in 1966, Kevin in 1967, and Mary Frances in 1970. As the only girl in the family, Mary Frances gained the nickname of “Punkin’” which later became affectionately shortened to “Punk.”
Tony made a career in the Grand Rapids Fire Department. He started off as a fireman, then was an equipment operator (EO) and retired as a Lieutenant. His career spanned 38 years while working at stations on Monroe, Bridge, LaGrave, and Kalamazoo Street. Tony enjoyed all aspects of the job, but he particularly enjoyed being with the guys and the brotherhood. Tony and his friends got together outside of work hunt, fish, and snowmobile.
First and foremost in his life was Tony’s family. He enjoyed being with his family no matter what they were doing. They took many trips together, including camping. This included trips with the boys sleeping in the tent while Punk got to sleep in the camper. They also spent many summers at a cottage on Myers Lake.
Tony loved watching old family movies and looking at slides together. While watching these movies with his grandkids, they wanted the volume turned up, but back then, there was no sound! They also had countless fun times in their pool. He liked hunting and fishing with his boys. He liked to play accordian for his family on special occasions. Tony was a NASCAR fan. Tony was a man of many interests, and made frequent trips to the UP to snowmobile with family and GRFD friends.
Among his favorites were watching Red Wings’ games at his son Tony’s house. He also enjoyed classic country, polka music, the Lawrence Welk show, and reading military books. He enjoyed being a range monitor at the West Walker Sportsman Club. Tony also liked to shoot targets, silhouettes, and reloading his own shells.
He and Mary Ann enjoyed trips to Arizona and Las Vegas with friends. They enjoyed camping together throughout Michigan. Tony cooked for years at the fire department. His favorite meals consisted of meat, potatoes, and vegetables - no fruit or salad! Some of his favorite foods were German potato salad, German wieners, kielbasa, fried potatoes, and bean soup.
His health began declining in 2012, and he was diagnosed with a very rare brain disease, cortical basal degeneration, which began affecting his daily life and activities. His son Kevin moved back home to assist in his care. This disease robbed Tony of the many things in life that he loved. Throughout his battle with this disease, he never complained and always maintained his sense of humor. He always knew when the people he loved were with him.
Among his many friends, Ed Jasman continued to visit and support him. He knew Tony had a special fondness for donuts, and always satisfied his sweet tooth.
With his great sense of humor, courageous spirit, and contagious zest for life, Anthony Hendges was an extraordinary man. Anthony will be deeply missed.