Life Story / Obituary
With a life that spanned times of great change in the world around him, Garry Smith was a kindhearted and generous man who was willing to do whatever he could to help those around him. He was the sort of person who never met a stranger, and with his warm and outgoing personality he drew others near with ease. A devoted family man, Garry was an outstanding role model for his children as well as his grandchildren later in life. He was strong and courageous in whatever came his way, and he could always manage to find the positive side in all situations. Although he will be deeply missed, Garry leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that his loved ones will forever cherish.
It was during the vibrant decade of the 1950s that Garry’s journey began. This was the decade that witnessed Elvis Presley take the music world by storm while James Dean dominated the silver screen. It was also during the 1950s that Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on an Alabama bus, and by the end of the decade Alaska and Hawaii became our 49th and 50th states. Amidst this eventful time was a time of great joy in the lives of Marvin Garry and Bernice Veronica (Mroz) Smith as they were pleased to announce the birth of the baby boy they named Garry Joseph on June 10, 1951, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was the oldest of four children as he was joined in his family by his younger siblings, Patti, Diane, and Marty. Garry was of Polish and Irish descent, and he and his family were members of St. Patricks Church in Parnell.
Raised in the family home on Cannonsburg Road in Parnell, Garry experienced an upbringing that was typical for the youth of his generation. He always had a love for the outdoors, hunting and fishing as a boy whether he was on the lookout for birds, small game, or deer, Over the years Garry bagged many trophies. He attended St. Patrick's Elementary School and later graduated from Rockford High School. In 1977, Garry and his family were given a tough pill to swallow when his father died in an automobile accident. A bit later, the family moved to a home on Powers on the West side of Grand Rapids in the eighties.
Life was forever changed for Garry when he met and later married Cheryl Sluiter at Fuller Ave Church. They made their home on Straight Street, NW, and this is where they raised their three sons, Dustin, Joshua, and Chad. Garry started his career off as a butcher at VandenBrink Meats, and he later took a job with Allendale Beef, processing whole cows for the food industry.
Then, Garry took a job at Villa Maria doing many things like helping residents get to dinner and back in addition to other various jobs until his health required his retirement.
Throughout his life Garry treasured time spent with his family. There were several vacations spent camping throughout Michigan, the Upper Peninsula, and Canada. Garry taught his boys to hunt and fish, and they spent many years hunting and fishing together. Garry made his own fishing poles, and he taught his boys to do the same. He was also a great cook when it came to preparing the fish and game he harvested. Garry and his boys never missed the spring trout opener, which is always the last weekend in April each year in Croton, Michigan.
In 1992 the marriage ended in divorce, and shortly thereafter Garry moved to Tallmadge Meadows where he lived for the past 17 years. He loved watching all the hunting and fishing shows, especially Michigan Out of Doors. Garry loved polka music and celebrating his Polish heritage as well as delicious Polish food like kielbasa, golumpki, pierogi, and kapusta. When it came to music, Garry enjoyed the classic country crooners such as Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Jonny Cash, and George Jones. As Garry got older he developed diabetes, which led to other health issues including circulatory problems and kidney problems. Sadly, these issues brought him to the hospital where he spent the past several months.
All who knew Garry Smith would agree that he was a blessing to everyone he met. He was the most amazing father, grandfather, brother, and friend, and he was more than willing to do whatever was necessary to help someone else. Life was not without times of trial, but Garry faced whatever came his way with both strength and courage that were truly inspiring. Deeply loved, he will never be forgotten.
Garry “Joe” Smith, aged 64 of Tallmadge Twp, MI, passed away on Monday, May 9, 2016 at St. Mary’s Mercy Health Hospital, surrounded by his loving family. He was preceded in death by his parents, Marvin and Bernice Smith. He is survived by his three boys, Dustin Smith, Joshua Smith and Chad Smith; his grandchildren, Arianna and Thomas Smith, Cole and Ella Smith, Wesley, Easton and Paisleigh Smith; his sister, Patti (Karl) Van Noord, Diane Lee and Marty Smith; many cousins, nieces, nephews and friends. Garry worked as a butcher at both Vandenbrink Meart Co. Allendale Beef, Co. and most recently at Villa Maria. He was a loving father, grandfather, brother and a friend to all who knew him. He was an avid fisherman and hunter who loved the outdoors. A service to celebrate Garry’s life will be held on Friday, May 13 at 1:00 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home – 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW. Relatives and friends may meet his family at the funeral home on Friday from 11:00 AM until the service begins at 1:00 PM. Contributions in his memory may be made to American Diabetes Assn. To read more about Garry’s life, to leave your own memory of him and to sign his guest book, visit his web page at www.lifestorynet.com