Life Story / Obituary
With unending love for her family and friends, Jocelyn French was deeply devoted to the people she treasured. She was funny, even goofy at times, and her zest for life was truly contagious. Jocelyn was the sort of person who would do whatever she could for others, continually willing to sacrifice whatever was needed. She told the best stories, and she had a way of making even the ordinary extraordinary. Life will never be the same without Jocelyn here, but she leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that her loved ones will proudly carry on in her footsteps.
It seems only fitting that Jocelyn’s journey began during a time that was as vibrant as she was. It was the 1950s when televisions were becoming part of our homes like never before, introducing us to shows like I Love Lucy and Father Knows Best. James Dean and Marilyn Monroe were big names on the silver screen, and Elvis Presley took the music world by storm when he brought us the sounds of rock ’n roll. It was in 1954 when Frank and Shirley (Dudley) Winski were eagerly anticipating the birth of their new baby as September dawned in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The big day finally arrived when the baby girl they named Jocelyn drew her first breath on September 26th. She was one of three children as she was raised in the family home in a simple home out in the woods off Wilson Avenue in the Standale area. Times were tight, which meant they had one toothbrush for the entire family. Jocelyn and her brother, Mark, often played wit their neighbor, Dennis who was also Jocelyn’s first crush. The kids could often be found out playing in the woods or playing with rocks, making up their own fun as they went along. Her father worked as a truck driver while her mother was a busy homemaker. Sadly, Jocelyn’s mother died when Jocelyn was just a young girl of 17.
From the time she was a young girl Jocelyn was a bustle of activity. She attended Cummings Elementary Elementary and later went on to Grandville High School. As a child Jocelyn was bit by a German Shepherd on her shoulder. For the rest of her life she was afraid of German Shepherds. Jocelyn became best friends with a girl named Jane Moore while growing up.
When she was 17, Jocelyn became a mother to her daughter, Heather Stacey, along with her first boyfriend. He was in the United States Air Force, and as a result they moved around a lot including to the Upper Peninsula as well as to Texas. As fate would have it, Jocelyn needed to rescue Heather from a dog attack. A German Shepherd, of course, and Jocelyn had to beat the dog back with a chair. After the relationship with her boyfriend ended, she returned to Grand Rapids and started working with the presses at General Motors at the stamping plant on 36th Street.
It was shortly after moving back to the area that Jocelyn’s life was forever changed. A co-worker named David French caught her eye as she thought he was good looking. Jocelyn and David began dating, and she particularly enjoyed spending time with his family. It took a while for her to figure out that he had lied about his age as he was actually younger than she was. In 1982, Jocelyn and David were married at the local justice of the peace. The newlyweds then took a honeymoon to Niagara Falls. They made their home on Flossie Street in Wyoming, and Jocelyn continued working at GM. Together they welcomed three more children including Cheryl, Suzy, and David into their hearts and home. The kids were all two years apart.
There was nothing of greater significance in Jocelyn’s life than her family. She was always there for all of her kids’ event and activities, and she told the best stories. Jocelyn was continually doing little things for her family, and birthdays were a huge deal when the birthday person picked out their cake, got to do a special activity, and also were allowed to have friends over. Christmas was a special event every year as they usually had family over for Christmas Eve. Even the tree decorating was an event as they decorated while singing silly songs. Although cooking wasn’t her favorite thing to do, Jocelyn was willing to do it. Hot tuna casserole was something they frequently ate, and they also had a tradition when Jocelyn made lasagna since Suzy would sneak a plastic Garfield into it somewhere. The surprise was always finding out who had it in their piece! Jocelyn and David divorced, and Cheryl and David moved in with their father while Suzy lived with Jocelyn in Dutton. After several years, they were able to be friends again. In 2009, Jocelyn retired when the GM plant closed down.
In her free time, Jocelyn was one to keep busy. She enjoyed spending time in her flower beds and working in her yard, and her favorite flower was the iris. Jocelyn liked working out and taking long and fast walks with walks at Shadyside Park in Dutton being one of her favorite activities. Jocelyn also enjoyed sunsets and spending time at Kirk Park. She loved music from artists like Bob Seger, Elton John, and the Beatles, and she also frequented concerts. Over the years she took her kids to see Elton John, Paul McCartney, and Bob Seger. Jocelyn also had a way of making up songs, putting them into conversations at random times. She was truly gifted at putting your name into existing songs. Later in life Jocelyn loved spending time with her granddaughter, Kenzie. Together they did things like playing little ponies, reading stories, taking walks, playing with rocks, and just talking. It has been said that Jocelyn could get a bit of road rage at times, and of course it was always the other drivers who were at fault. As her family and friends can attest, Jocelyn had a sweet tooth for anything chocolate.
When reflecting on the life of Jocelyn French, words such as hardworking, generous, and strong come to mind, but perhaps the word that paints the most accurate picture of her is the word selfless. She had a warm, genuine, and inviting personality that drew others near with ease. Jocelyn took great care of her family, but this was especially true when someone was sick. She showed her strength when she was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2015 and then came out the winner. Deeply loved, she will be forever missed.
FRENCH – Jocelyn French age 63, of Grand Rapids, passed away suddenly on November 1, 2017. She was preceded in death by her daughter, Heather Stacey. Jocelyn is survived by her children, Cheryl (Ryan) DeVogel, Suzy French, and David B. (Trisha) French; and grandchildren, Tyson Swanson and Kenzie DeVogel. Also surviving are her sister, Cindy (Robin Berry) Lewis; brother, Mark Winski; and the children’s father, David L. French. A Memorial Service will be held at 5 PM on Tuesday, November 7, 2017 at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW. The family will receive visitors for one hour prior to the service. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com to read her lifestory, archive a memory, photo, or sign the guestbook online.