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Life Story / Obituary
Quiet and hardworking, George Harvey Sawyer lived a life centered in the richness of family. A man who generously lived in service of others, George was a wonderful and dedicated husband, father, grandfather, and friend. Gentle, loving, and kind, George was revered by many, and he will long be remembered in the hearts and lives of those he loved.
Despite the stock market crash that set off the Great Depression, 1929 held many celebrations; the inventions of Penicillin, the iron lung, bubble gum, and the Yo-Yo, as well as Charles Lindbergh’s Congressional Medal of Honor and Amelia Earhart becoming the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic, inspired much hope in the face of the growing storm. Nowhere was their more hope than in Grand Rapids, Michigan as James and Vera (Gayman) Sawyer welcomed their firstborn son into their hearts and home on Sunday, December 22nd.
While George’s father supported his family by running a residential refuse company, his mother was a proud homemaker. With his younger brother Richard, George grew up on Lafayette NE. Though he attended Creston High School with the class of 1947, George dropped out at the age of 17 to join the Merchant Marines.
As a Merchant Marine, George traveled by freighter around the Great Lakes and many an ocean. In 1953, he enlisted as a second lieutenant in the US Navy.
After serving in the US Navy for two years during the Korean War, and earning his GED, George safely returned home. Soon, he was blessed to meet Donna Terwee on a blind date at Fingers Restaurant. George and Donna dated for a couple years and married on June 8, 1957, at her parents’ home.
The young couple honeymooned in Niagara Falls then built a new home at 1032 Maple Row where they spent the next ten years together. As the couple grew their family, they welcomed four treasured children, Dianne, Luanne, Donald, and Ronald. To better meet their family’s needs and dreams of rural living, the Sawyers moved to a home in Alpine Twp. Here, George tore down a house on a neighborhood property to make way for a barn to house the horses his children wanted. George enjoyed raising his children and supporting all of their endeavors, especially during their school years at Kenowa Hills High School. During the summers, the family vacationed in cottages around Northern Michigan and was quite fond of the Kimball Lake area.
A man of many interests and skills, George loved to buy, restore, and sell old gas pumps. He also learned the art of refrigeration repair and worked at cold storage facilities and pizza parlors. He and Donna took square dance classes and often shared their talents at area schools where they performed many demonstrations over the years. After working for the State of Michigan for over 34 years, George was able to spend more time reading westerns and mysteries, working jigsaw puzzles, and traveling with his wife. With Donna at his side, George enjoyed taking trips to Hawaii, the Canadian Rockies, and New York City. They explored Alaska by cruise ship and spent three months of the winter in Zephyr, Florida for eight consecutive years. George loved to ride his bicycle in Florida and was also known to enjoy watching American Pickers and the Home and Garden Channel. A good fish dinner was always a treat, and George also enjoyed frequenting his favorite restaurants: Fingers, German Village, Shawmut Inn, and Grand Villa.
Without a doubt, George’s heart’s delight was his grandchildren. Not only did he love to attend all of their special events, but he also took great pride in helping each of them with college tuition. George considered every moment he in the good company of his grandchildren as a treasured gift, for in their eyes he could easily see the best of his legacy and his greatest hopes for the future.
Even in the face of bone cancer, George stayed true to his quiet, gentle nature and his commitment to the good care of his family. The challenges that came with chemotherapy and radium treatments were often softened by the time he spent with those he loved, for his greatest joy was the people he treasured. Recently, George was hospitalized with pneumonia. After a week’s stay in the hospital, he returned home for a short time. As his health continued to diminish, George returned to the hospital where he died on Nov 23rd, in the comforts of his family
The world is far less certain without George’s steadfast presence. May the sweet memories we have of this good man afford deep comfort. May we also be comforted to know that with each kindness we extend another, and each moment we share with family and friends we carry his light forward where it will continue to inspire others.
George H. Sawyer, aged 87 of Alpine Twp., passed away on Thursday, November 23, 2017. He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Donna Sawyer (Terwee); his children, Dianne (Brian) Boelens, Luanne (Victor) Wisniewski, Donald Sawyer, Ronald Sawyer; his 8 grandchildren, Bailey Boelens, James (Leigh) Wisniewski, Sandra (Chris) Shindorf, Janice Wisniewski, Trevor (Lesa) Sawyer, Bryce Sawyer, Valerie Sawyer; his great-granddaughter, Madilynn Shindorf; his brother-in-law, Daniel Terwee; and many friends. He was preceded in death by his grandson, Brandon Boelens, his brother, Richard Sawyer, his parents, James and Vera Sawyer and his in-laws, Clarence and Emma Terwee. Relatives and friends may meet his family on Monday, November 27, from 6:00 – 8:00 pm, and Tuesday from 10:00 – 11:00 am at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home – 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW. A service to celebrate George’s life will be held at the funeral home on Tuesday, Nov. 28th at 11:00 AM. Contributions in his memory may be made to Zion Lutheran Church. To sign Georges guest book and to leave your own memory of him, visit his web page at www.lifestorynet.com