Wednesday, March 1, 2017
7:00 PM to 9:00 PM EST
Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes
Alt & Shawmut Chapel
2120 Lake Michigan Dr., N.W.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Prayer Service at the funeral home Wednesday evening at 7:30 PM
Thursday, March 2, 2017
10:00 AM to 11:00 AM EST
St. James Church
733 Bridge St. NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Thursday, March 2, 2017
11:00 AM EST
St. James Catholic Church
733 Bridge St. NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Life Story / Obituary
All who knew Earl Wood would agree that he was one of the kindest people around. A lifelong resident of the community he loved, he was a highly respected public servant as a longtime member of the Grand Rapids Fire Department. Earl was a loving and devoted family man who was blessed to witness his family tree blossom to include numerous branches of loved ones he adored. Someone who could find the best in anyone, he was the sort of person who never met a stranger. Life will never be the same without Earl here, but he leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that his loved ones will forever hold near and dear to their hearts.
The year 1929 is often remembered as the year that the historic crash of the stock market sent our nation and much of the world spiraling down into the depths of the Great Depression. Although the 1920s were primarily prosperous times, the 1930s were a time of great trial and tribulation for American families across the nation. It was just prior to that historic day on Wall Street that Earl G and Mildred (Sayles) Wood were eagerly awaiting the birth of their new baby as spring began to appear on the horizon in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in March of 1929. Their wait was over on March 1st when the baby boy they named Earl Eugene made his grand entrance in the family home on Davis Street on the West Side of Grand Rapids. The majority of his formative years were spent in the family home on Willis Street, NW. To support their family, Earl’s father was an upholsterer while his mother was a busy homemaker.
In many ways Earl was a young boy of his generation. For a time he and his family attended St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, but they later joined St. James Catholic Church, which his father helped build. For his education, Earl attended St. James Elementary where he played football, basketball, and ran on track team. It was while growing up that he developed his love for fishing that remained throughout his life. Many of the times he went fishing Earl went with his cousin, Rich McGraw. As he got older, Earl’s high school years found him at Catholic Central High School. After graduating in 1948, Earl tool a job with a local moving company. Later on, he took a job with Consumers Power Company.
Not to be forgotten during his years while growing up was Earl’s introduction to the woman of his dreams. Her name was Frances Muenzenmeyer, and he had known her since high school. They began dating as high schoolers and soon fell deeply in love. With a desire to spend the rest of their lives together, Earl and Frances were married on September 16, 1950, at St. Frances Xavier Church with an intimate reception.
After a honeymoon in Chicago, the couple returned to Grand Rapids and lived in an apartment for a time. They later moved to a home at 1911 Frances Street, SE. Together they were blessed with the births of six children including Theresa in 1952, Mary Kay in 1954, Connie in 1956, Danny in 1957, James in 1960, and Ruth in 1962. Sadly, Connie died as an infant. After being drafted into the United States Army, Earl served in England during the Korean Conflict. With a desire to serve others, he took a job as a firefighter with the Grand Rapids Fire Department. Over the years he became a highly respected and decorated firefighter throughout his 34 years there. Earl was one of the first firefighters in the city of Grand Rapids to be trained in CPR. It wasn’t long after receiving his training that he used his skills to save an 18 month old baby. In everything he did, he worked hard to provide for his family.
There was never anything of greater importance in Earl’s life than his family. They later moved to a home on Glenhaven, NW, but they later moved to Brandon, NW. They enjoyed annual summer vacations at Big Star Lake, and they made regular day trips to Gun Lake in the summer. The family also traveled to California and to Colorado. Later in life Earl became a loving caregiver to Frances as she battled Parkinson’s disease. He willingly fulfilled this role until her death in 2000.
Throughout his life Earl was one to keep busy and had many interests. He loved gardening and harvested a variety of fruits and vegetables for family and friends. The sort of person who could talk to anyone, Earl and Frances were a very social couple who had many friends. Everywhere he went he seemed to make friends, and he never had an unkind word to say about anyone. Earl enjoyed refinishing furniture and often seemed to have an ongoing woodworking project. He was known for his delicious soups and chilis at the fire department. Within the community, Earl was a very active parishioner at St. James and took part in all parish activities. He was also a member at the Lexicon Club and was later part of St. Casimirs’s Aid Society (6th Street Hall).
Earl loved playing cards, especially Poker and Omaha. Earl liked reading WWII books, and when relaxing with the television he enjoyed watching both the Lions and the Tigers as well as Archie Bunker, the Carol Burnett Show, and Benny Hill. He continued to treasure any time spent with family. Earl especially loved being a grandfather and was adored by his grandchildren.
Not long after Frances died, brighter days were on the horizon when Earl began dating Elaine Connor. They had socialized as couples with one another over the years, and they began dating. In 2001, Earl and Elaine were married, and they had a great life together. He had some struggles later in life, but he and Elaine weathered them together. After suffering a broken hip and with knees that were failing, Earl began during rehab at St. Ann’s Home. Elaine later joined him, and while there he was very social and made several new friends among the residents and staff. Life wasn’t always easy for him, but he always made the best of it.
With a life that spanned times of great change around him, Earl Wood lived a life of purpose while holding his loved ones near. He had a great sense of humor, and everyone who knew him would agree that no one could tell a story quite like he could. A real life hero, Earl lived his life focused on others, always more than wiling to do whatever he could to lend a hand. His devotion to his family was easy to see, and he was never the type to get angry or even to raise his voice. Deeply loved, Earl will be forever missed.
Earl E. Wood, aged 87 of Grand Rapids, passed away on Sunday, February 26, 2017. He is now resting comfortably in the hands of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He was preceded in death by his wife of 49 years, Frances Wood (Muenzenmeyer), his infant daughter Connie, and his parents, Earl G. and Mildred Wood. He is survived by his wife, Elaine Wood (Connor), his children, Therese Wood, Mary Kay (David) Kasteline, Dan (Terri) Wood, James Wood, Ruth (Tim) Eggerding; his 11 grandchildren, Brian Wood, Adam (Jenny) Eggerding, Stephanie (Brad) Trompen, Kevin (Caitlyn) Wood, Zachary (Ashley) Wood, Molly Kasteline, Elliot Wood, Matthew Eggerding, Ethan Wood, Shaina Wood, Cameron Wood; four great grandchildren, Kylee Eggerding, Case Eggerding, William Finn Trompen, Everett Trompen; his brother, Larry (Lori) Wood; brother-in-law, Walter (Mary) Muenzenmeyer; step-children, Kevin (Patty) Connor, Brian (Sue) Connor, Karen (Bernie) Bowhuis, Diane (Steve) Clement; many nieces, nephews and friends. Earl honorably served his country in the US Army during the Korean War, stationed in England. He was a decorated Firefighter for the Grand Rapids Fire Department where he worked for 34 years. He was a lifelong parishioner of St. James Catholic Church, and was an active member of St. Casimir’s Aid Society. He was a great father, husband and an example for his entire family. We can all remember the family vacations at Big Star Lake where he put out a fire to save the cottage next door. The family also took many day trips to Gun Lake to celebrate the day. Earl was an extremely friendly and social person, always welcoming a conversation with a family member, friend or a person he didn’t even know. He loved to play cards whenever he got the chance. He was a very kindhearted and understanding person, never raising his voice or becoming angry with anyone. We will miss his many stories, including how he decided to become a Firefighter instead of a Police Officer. Or the story about hanging out with his buddies in the service while in England. Everyone that met Earl loved him from the moment they made contact with him. He will be greatly missed by his family and many friends. The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Thursday, March 2 at 11:00 AM at St. James Catholic Church, 733 Bridge St. NW. Burial in Resurrection Cemetery. Relatives and friends may meet his family on Wednesday from 2-4 and 7-9 pm at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home – 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW, with the vigil service at 7:30 pm. Visitation also at the church on Thursday from 10 am until 11 am. Contributions may be made to St. Ann’s Home. To read more about Earl’s life, to sign his guest book and to leave your own memory of him, visit his web page at www.lifestorynet.com