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.
Van Andel Institute
333 Bostwick Ave NE
Grand Rapids,, MI 49503
Call Jose (Pepe) Vega @ 616-318-9716
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
From early struggles to triumph, Catherine LaLonde lived her life with hope and promise. She overcame much, and in her later years she heeded to a cause she felt strongly about for which her children can be proud. Catherine was a hard working woman who, with much determination, made a good life for herself surrounded by those she so loved and cared about. For those who knew Catherine best, her love and perseverance will be what is remembered most.
The end of World War II was a time of great celebration from coast to coast. As young servicemen came home to marry their sweethearts, the baby boom was officially off and running. New families were moving into newly developed suburbs, and U.S. manufacturers quickly turned at-war production into post-war innovations to meet heightened demand for consumer goods. By 1946, the assembly line and the 40 hour work week brought much stabilty to the nation after years of repression during the Great Depression, and the travesties of war. It was now time to begin anew with hopes and dreams for the future. This was especially true for Karl G. and Mary E. (Erhardt) Sanzi when on June 30, 1946 they welcomed the birth of their little girl, Catherine Helen into their arms.
Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Catherine’s father came to the U.S. from Germany at the age of 16. He eventually met and married her mother, and worked hard to support his family as a tool and die maker. Raised alongside her older sister, Rosemary, Catherine and her family made their home on Richards Street on the Northwest side of the city. An outgoing young girl, she enjoyed playful adventures with neighborhood friends as a youngster. Family vacations were enjoyed and memorable times were shared by all at Cobb Lake where later her sister and her family had a cottage. In her youth, Catherine loved to ice skate and water ski on the lake which had much to offer. Additional vacations were enjoyed when relatives came to visit the U.S. from Germany.
Young Catherine and her family experienced the untimely death of her father when Catherine was merely seven years old. Left with two children to raise and support, Catherine’s mother began working at Mathew’s Drug Store. Although her sister was eight years older than Catherine, they remained close throughout their lives. Rosie was a help to Catherine when she needed it most, and never ceased in being there for her or believing in her.
Having attended St. James Elementary School, Catherine excelled in her studies and received A’s in most of her classes. She was especially good in English and math. Catherine went on to graduate from Union High School with the Class of 1964. She later landed a position working at General Motors at the former Wyoming plant as a journeyman welder maintenance. Over the course of 30 years with the company, she eventually worked her way up to become a supervisor, however, the years prior were often a struggle for Catherine.
In her younger years, Catherine became the mother of two daughters, Sherry and Christine, and a son, Terry. Through hardships and reliance, Catherine and her children experienced an otherwise pristine life. Catherine preferred keeping these early years in the past, and with much determination in her early forties, Catherine made a change for the better. For the last 27 years of her life, Catherine longed to make up for lost time and came to develop a good, close and healthy relationship with her family.
Life was never easy for Catherine, but she persevered and used her past experiences in an effort to help others. Having faced her previous mistakes, downfalls and dependence, she used her knowledge for good. As a longtime member and spokesperson for Narcotics Anonymous, Catherine forged ahead, traveling throughout the U.S. to share her story. She came to exemplify through example, spending relentless hours trying to help the organization and others needing help. Catherine didn’t hold back when it came to the reality of living in such a way that affects every aspect of one’s life, and those involved with that individual. She could have lost it all, and nearly did, but with unending faith, Catherine overcame and went on to live a life of honor and integrity.
When it came to cooking, Catherine was never one to spend time in the kitchen. Quite frankly, she didn’t like to cook, and she never aspired to do so. For Catherine, life was about living and loving those who were most dear to her. Family travel was mainly to destinations in Michigan, but after retiring from General Motors, travel was a large part of Catherine’s life. Both personally and through her efforts with NA, Catherine enjoyed a wonderful cruise, visited Alaska, Hawaii, Las Vegas and California. In addition, she also traveled to Spain which was a treasured highlight for her. She loved the sounds of Bob Seger, Cher, and the group, Aerosmith. Along with her collection of fine jewelry, Catherine also collected the many novels she read over the years as an avid reader.
Despite everything Catherine experienced in her life, she was a firm, spiritual mother who raised her children to be responsible people. She encouraged them to be a benefit to society, and to help those in need. She lived her life in service to others, and she cherished the family with which she was so blessed. Her outgoing, personable nature was beloved by all, and she will be deeply missed and fondly remembered by all who knew her.
Catherine H. LaLonde age 69, of Grand Rapids, passed away on Saturday, October 24, 2015. She was preceded in death by her son, Terry K. LaLonde in 2005, and her sister, Rosie S. Vanderband in January 2015. Catherine is survived by her children, Sherry E. Snyder, Christine M. Ward; grandchildren, Cory (Tasha) Snyder, Elizabeth (Aaron) Wuis, Christopher (Randi) Jacobs, Thomas M. Jacobs, Ashley M. Ward, Hunter R. Ward; great-grandchildren, Eric, Braelin, Gabriel, and soon, a fourth great-grandchild; several nieces, nephews and friends. The funeral service to celebrate Catherine’s life will be held at 1:00 PM on Wednesday, October 28, 2015 at Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes-Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr NW. Relatives and friends may visit with her family on Tuesday, October 27 from 2-4 and 7-9 PM. Contributions in her memory may be made to Narcotics Anonymous or to the Van Andel Institute for Cancer Research and are appreciated. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com to read share a favorite memory or photo of Catherine and to sign her online guestbook.