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.
Migrant Legal Aid
1104 Fuller Ave. NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Life Story / Obituary
All who knew Cindy Silva would agree that she was an extraordinary woman to know and love. She was kind and compassionate with a heart that beat to serve those around her in ways both great and small. A devoted wife and devoted mother, she was happiest when surrounded by the ones she loved. Life will never be the same without Cindy here, but she leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that her loved ones will forever cherish.
The 1950s brought some exciting days in America. This was the decade when civil rights made the front page news much of the time while the space race between our nation and the Soviet Union was heating up. Televisions were transforming the way we saw ourselves while Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, and Fats Domino all defined music during this time. It was as winter was drawing to a close in 1957 that Leslie Dale and Betty Mae (Black) Bowser were eagerly anticipating the birth of their new baby. Their wait was finally over on March 8th when the baby girl they named Cindy Lou drew her first breath. She was the third of six children as she was raised in the family home alongside her older siblings, Pamela and Susan, and her younger siblings, Leslie Jr., Shawn, and Darla. Her father was a crane operator while her mother was a physician’s assistant and homemaker. In 1964, Cindy moved with her family to Grand Rapids, Michigan, which was the place she called home for the rest of her life. It was in Grand Rapids that Cindy met her childhood best friend, Sandy Kinder, Cindy and Sandie Otte (Kinder) were inseparable and enjoyed a carefree childhood together.
In many ways, Cindy was a young girl of her generation. As a student, she attended Eastern Elementary School where she once won an award for selling the most donuts during a donut sale. Cindy’s high school years found her at Grandville High School. In addition to holding down her studies, she began working as a waitress at Little Mexico on Bridge Street, NW, when she was only 15. Cindy went on to graduate from high school in 1975 and didn’t shy away from doing things her own way as she drove a Yamaha motorcycle in high school. She went on to college in Toledo and worked at the Catholic Diocese.
Not to be forgotten during Cindy’s younger years was her introduction to the young man who would forever hold the key to her heart. His name was Valentin Silva, and they met while working at the Little Mexico. The two began dating, and it wasn’t long before they found themselves deeply in love. With a desire to establish a life together, Cindy and Valentin were married on June 4, 1983, in a church wedding. The couple initially lived in Comstock Park, and on July 3rd, 1985, they were filled with unspeakable joy to welcome their son, Christopher, into their hearts and home. Their family of three later moved to 3rd Street in Northwest Grand Rapids, and in 2004 they built a home on O’Brien Road, NW. She always supported and encouraged her son in everything he did and was so very proud of him.
After returning to Grand Rapids, Cindy was eager for all that life had in store. She took a job at Michigan Migrant Legal Aid, starting out as a secretary and eventually becoming the office manager. With a genuine servant’s heart, Cindy was an advocate for migrant farmers, helping them in legal issues. She worked hard, and she was very well respected within the progressive community in Grand Rapids and throughout the state. Cindy spent nearly her entire professional career and almost 40 years there. She made many life-long friends and connections and will be missed by the entire staff, including her beloved friend Teresa Hendricks Pitsch, who served with Cindy for over 25 years.
Over the years Cindy was always busy. She loved to dance throughout her life and loved all kinds of music from the Temptations, the Supremes, Pink Floyd, and country music later in life. Cindy loved to sing, too. She enjoyed shopping, and although she enjoyed cooking she loved eating out, too. Red Lobster was always Cindy’s favorite. Among her most requested dishes between her family and friends were her burritos, potato salad, meatloaf, and cupcakes. She loved visiting casinos and even hit it big a couple of times. When relaxing, Cindy liked classic television shows like Little House on the Prairie, Bonanza, and some good old fashioned police shows.
There was never anything of greater importance to Cindy than her loved ones. She remained close with her dear friend and neighbor Patti Barrientes, Cindy and her family would enjoy many years and family vacations with Patti. She remained close to her Pennsylvania cousins, especially twins, Sandy and Soney Hockenberry. Family vacations to Florida and Mexico were where some of her favorite memories were made. Cindy remained close to her siblings, and they all frequently went boating together in many Michigan lakes. When her parents were living in Florida during their retirement years, Cindy regularly enjoyed visits with them there. She made a point of calling her father every year to sing him happy birthday.
Described as an advocate for the less fortunate and the type of person who would do anything for anyone, Cindy Silva made a significant impact in the lives of those too numerous to count. She was selfless and invaluable to others including her family, her friends, and within her work. Content in whatever life brought, Cindy could find the joy in whatever came her way. She cherished her parents, siblings, husband, and son, and her devotion to her friends and family ones was unmatched. Deeply loved, Cindy will be forever missed.