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Life Story / Obituary
A loving, devoted, and honorable man, Harry Nowicki, Jr. was a blessing to everyone he met. He was accompanied by his faith, and and strong family ties he used to direct his steps. Harry worked hard, but he also took the time to enjoy life along the way, and things were only made better when he experienced the things he loved with the people he loved. He was so thrilled to witness his family tree blossom to include numerous branches of loved ones who were his greatest source of pride and joy. Deeply loved, Harry leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that his loved ones will forever cherish.
It was great to be an American during the 1920s as technology was taking us places we had never been. Cars were more affordable as they were widely mass produced on assembly lines, and with the adventurous spirits of Amelia Earhart and Charles Lindbergh the world of flight soared to new heights. It was in the midst of this exciting time that Harry W. and Alice (Johnson) Nowicki were pleased to announce the birth of the baby boy they named Harry Walter on April 3, 1925, in Chicago, Illinois. He was the oldest of five children as he was joined in his family by his younger siblings, Rosemary, Peter, Phoebe, and Barbara.
In many ways, Harry was a young boy of his generation. His father worked as a truck driver while his mother was a busy homemaker. As a young boy Harry moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he and his family settled into a home at 850 Watson Street. A student at local schools, Harry attended Union High School.
It was while skating at the Colosseum Roller Rink on South Division that Harry met the young girl of his dreams. Her name was Dorothy Meernik, and sparks flew right from the start. They began dating, but after the vicious attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Harry answered the call to serve by joining the United States Navy. While in the military, he served as a gunner on the USS Chilton as part of the Pacific Theater, and he and Dorothy corresponded through letters in his absence.
Harry spent four years in the military, and shortly after the war ended he was able to return home. With a desire to establish a life together, Harry and Dorothy were married on June 21, 1946, at Valley Avenue Methodist Church. After a honeymoon spent fishing in Grayling, Michigan, the newlyweds bought a home next to the church where they lived for seven years until Harry built a home on Wilson Avenue in 1953. This was the place they called home for most of their lives. Together Harry and his wife welcomed four children including Shirley, Harry III, Peter, and Dave into their hearts and home. In 1956, their family suffered the loss of part of their home when the Standale tornado came through. To support his family, Harry worked in the wood trade as he started off working at Irwin Furniture, which is where he learned the tricks of the trade. He also spent many years working as a carpenter for Ted Allsburg. As a family they took several camping trips in tents and later in a camper all throughout Michigan.
Throughout his life Harry was a man of many interests. He loved gardening, and during his younger years he had quite an extensive collection of homegrown vegetables. It seems only natural that Harry enjoyed woodworking, and over the years he made holiday decorations and numerous gifts for family and friends. As someone who loved photography, he also had the most beautiful pictures to show for his efforts. Harry enjoyed many foods, but among his favorites were shrimp, goulash, spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, and any meal with meat and potatoes. On the weekends Harry took to the grill and was best known for his steaks, burgers and hot dogs as well as his cedar plank salmon. He enjoyed traditional gospel music, and on television he loved sports, especially boxing, and Western movies, Wheel of Fortune, and most things on Animal Planet. As someone who was naturally creative, Harry loved painting landscapes. Harry liked reading anything on United States history and also kept up with reading the daily newspaper.
Many of the best things in Harry’s life were so special because he shared them with others. He and Dorothy enjoyed seeing beautiful places in their travel trailer, motorhome, and fifth wheel. They spent many winters in Texas and later in Florida. They also had a trailer at Sandy Pines for 30 years where they made numerous friends. Harry loved eating at Burger King or also playing Bingo at McDonald’s for free coffee. Eager to serve within his community, he volunteered as an attendant at Mercy Ambulance, served as a scoutmaster, was part of the Walker Senior Patrol, and his home was also a Civil Defense First Aid Station. Harry also taught first aid to schoolchildren as a volunteer for the Kent County Sheriff Department. later in life, Harry decided to return to school where he earned his GED.
Later in life Harry continued to live his life to the fullest. He loved visiting with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren as his family was his greatest treasure. Harry had his fair share of health issues, too, as he survived a bout with cancer, had a couple of heart attacks and received a pacemaker, and he also had congestive heart failure. Both Harry and his wife slowed down greatly during their sunset years, and about seven years ago he moved into assisted living. Harry spent the last five years at Waldon Woods where he enjoyed frequent visits from his family. The past couple of weeks his health greatly declined.
Although he could be opinionated and even outspoken at times, Harry Nowicki, Jr. had a heart that beat to serve others. He had a fun loving side and a contagious zest for life that really shined when it was coupled with his dry sense of humor. Harry was also a man of great strength who was so very wise, and he was an amazing mentor to his children as well. He will never be forgotten.
Harry W. Nowicki Jr., aged 90 of Grand Rapids, passed away on Friday, March 4, 2016. He is survived by his wife of 69 years, Dorothy (Meernik); his children, Shirley Sharp, Jan Nowicki, Peter and Sally Nowicki, Dave and Sheila Nowicki; his grandchildren, Christa (Aaron) VanderWall, Brian Nowicki, Ryan (Dana) Sharp, Kathy (Larry) Cox, Brittany, Nathan, Cassie and Katelyn Ketchum; 5 great grandchildren; his brother and sisters, Peter Nowicki, Rosemary Wysocki, Phoebe (Fred) Dykema, Barbara Poole; many nieces, nephews and friends. Harry was preceded in death by his son, Harry III “Butch”, his grandson, Tyler, and his son-in-law, Ron Sharp. Harry was a loving and dedicated husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, brother, uncle and a friend to all who knew him. He honorably served his country in the US Navy during World War II. He will be deeply missed and lovingly remembered. A service to celebrate Harry’s life will be held on Tuesday, March 8, at 11:00 AM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home – 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW. Relatives and friends may meet his family at the funeral home on Monday from 6:00 – 8:00 PM, and on Tuesday from 10:00 AM until the service begins at 11:00. To read more about Harry’s life, to sign his guest book and to leave your own memory of him, visit his web page at www.lifestorynet.com