At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Van Andel Institute - to be used for Parkinson's Disease research
333 Bostwick Ave NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Online donations: check box for Parkinson's Disease research
If mailing a check, please indicate that money is for a memorial donation for Josephine Granzo, and to be used for Parkinson's Disease research.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
People often consider themselves blessed by the many events in their lives – sharing love with a spouse, caring for children, and experiencing new adventures every day. Josephine “Jo” Granzo was one of these special people. She truly exemplified what a mother, wife, grandmother and great-grand mother should be.
The year 1916 often brings thoughts of World War I and the United States eminent involvement. But in 1916, good things were also happening. The citizens of Montana elected Jeanette Rankin to Congress – the first woman to serve in Congress. In August of that year, the Department of the Interior established the U.S. Park Service, and to the delight of housewives everywhere, the first self-service grocery store opened. On December 18, 1916 good things were happening in Zion, Illinois. Floyd and Charlotte (Evans) Richards had just welcomed the birth of their first child, a beautiful baby girl they named Josephine. As time went on, the Richards family would grow with the addition of three boys, the youngest being born just after Mr. Richards died.
With the bread winner of the family gone, Jo soon learned what it was like to struggle in life. But there were fun times as well. Once on a trip to Upper Michigan, she and her brothers cooled down on a hot day by swimming in a big ditch in front of their cabin. While attending Zion High School, there was a fire at the school and Jo had to finish her high school education by commuting by train to nearby Waukegon High School. Because finances were tight, Jo also worked while attending school. She and her mother worked at the Airliner Restaurant as a cashier – she was always good with numbers – and then at the Zion Cookie Factory. Her plans were to go to Secretarial School after graduation, but like some good plans, fate had something else in store for Jo. While on a trip with some friends to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Jo went to a dance and met a handsome young man named Harry Fitzpatrick. So much for secretarial school. Jo and Harry were married in Zion on March 27, 1937 at her aunt's home. After the ceremony, the couple moved to Pontiac, Michigan where Harry already had a job.
However, when Harry was laid off from work, he and Jo returned to Zion for a short time but eventually went back to Michigan. Finances were still very tight and Harry took work wherever he could find it, until he was rehired at his old job, two years later.
Both Jo and Harry were ready to start a family and in the course of about 10 years, they welcomed the births of three beautiful baby boys. Neil came first, followed five years later by Dennis, and five years after that, Terry. Jo loved being a mother. Harry’s job often kept him out on the road so it fell to Jo to run the household, and run it she did. Her days as a cashier served her well and she became the family bookkeeper, making sure to stretch the hard earned dollars as far as she could.
Jo was very organized and when Harry was home, she loved to entertain. She was a great cook and often delighted their guests with such delicacies as standing rib roast, pies, cakes, casseroles and broiled lamb chops. No one ever went away hungry.
Although her primary role was taking care of the home and family, Jo had other interests that she enjoyed. She loved to bowl and played in several ladies and couples leagues. She learned to like baseball and would listen to the games on the radio so she could update her sons when they got home from school. Even though Harry was away a great deal, Jo rarely complained and remained very supportive of the husband she loved.
In 1950, the family moved to Somerville, New Jersey where Harry had a new job. They would return to Michigan briefly before returning to New Jersey in 1951. Harry’s work would later take them to Manchester, Connecticut, and it was here that he finally retired.
Jo loved the summer and spending time with her family. They often united with other family members at Pike Lake in Newberry, Michigan. Jo and Harry always enjoyed these visits and would often read and talk about going to Canada. The family took a trip to Amyot, Canada on Lake Negwazu in Ontario, Canada. In fact, they enjoyed it so much they eventually bought property there.
The cabin in Canada soon became the destination for family vacations – three weeks in the summer while Harry was working and then once Harry retired, he and Jo would spend three months at the cabin. Because Lake Negwazu is literally in the middle of nowhere, the only way to get there was by train so Jo had to be extra organized when it came vacation time. And of course, when family came to visit, they were always welcomed with a delicious meal. The cabin became an important part of family gatherings throughout Jo’s life.
Jo and Harry also found a home in Spring Hill, Florida and enjoyed spending their winters in the warm, sunny climate. Jo loved to be able to pick oranges right in her own back yard, and she even learned to play golf. With Harry retired, they spent a lot of their time visiting family or having the family come to them for a visit, both in Canada and Florida. They purchased a motorhome and enjoyed this method of traveling until Harry’s death in 1977.
Russ and Julie Granzo were long time friends and had shared many visits and activities with Jo and Harry. Unfortunately, Julie passed away about the same time as Harry. Russ decided to make a trip to Florida to visit Jo. Guess what happened? They were married on June 22, 1978 and began living in Ada, Michigan for six months, and Florida the other six months. Russ and Jo loved to travel, and Jo loved taking care of Russ. She was the only grandmother that Russ’s granddaughters really knew and she was a wonderful grandmother. She would buy the girls new dresses each spring and often knitted or crocheted gifts for them.
In 2008, Jo, who had been affected with Parkinson's Disease for a number of years, got to the point where full time assistance was needed So she and Russ moved to Covenant Village of the Great Lakes. Sadly, Russ died there in 2011. Jo's courageous battle with Parkinson's was finally lost on June 7, 2016 at the amazing age of 99 ½.
Josephine Granzo, age 99 ½ of Grand Rapids, passed away June 7, 2016 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. She was preceded in death by her first husband, Harry Fitzpatrick, her second husband, Russ Granzo; brothers Floyd Richards and Charles Richards; and her granddaughter, Susan Fitzpatrick-Brown. Jo is survived by her brother, Fred Richards; her sons Neil (Virginia) Fitzpatrick, Dennis (Carol) Fitzpatrick, Terry (Linda) Fitzpatrick; stepson James (Carrol) Granzo: grandchildren Brian (Stacey) Fitzpatrick, Alan (Lisa) Fitzpatrick, Kim (Keith) Krecicki, Lori (Jim) Shifflett, Chad (Leah) Fitzpatrick, Michael Fitzpatrick, Jeff (Myca) Fitzpatrick; Shanelle (Tom) Elzinga, Sandra (Dale) Redder, Steffanie (Dave) Boone, Shari (Derek) Schwenk; great grandchildren Erik, Alyssa, Claudia, Josephine, Jack, Colin, Oliver, Emily and Owen Fitzpatrick, Katie and Kellie Krecicki, Kailyn, Alec, Evan and Joshua Elzinga, Jacob and Nathan Redder, Austin, Kilee, Jared, Trevor, Dylan and Cody Boone, Tyler and Brendon Schwenk; as well as nieces and nephews. The service to celebrate Jo’s life will be held on Saturday, June 11, 2016 at 11:00 am at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home – Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel, 2120 Lake Michigan Drive NW where friends are invited to visit with her family from 10:00 am until the service. Her family suggests that memorial contributions be made to the Van Andel Institute to be used for Parkinson ’s disease research. To read more about Jo’s life, to share a memory or photo, or to sign her guestbook, visit www.lifestorynet.com.