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Life Story / Obituary
Gregarious, loving, and kind, Kevin Curtiss Conner lived a heart-centered life rich in family. A man who knew no stranger and who could always inspire a hearty laugh, Kevin was a gift to all who were blessed to know him. With an insatiable need to move, learn, and serve others, Kevin was a living example of how to live each day to the fullest. A devoted husband, father, and grandfather, Kevin was an inspiration, and he will long live in the hearts of many.
1963 was a year of many changes. As the Civil Rights movement gathered momentum, the nation continued to invest in its goal of putting a man on the moon. American homes were filled with the sounds of the Beatles and the sense of loyalty inspired by its favorite dog, Lassie. Nowhere was there more happy anticipation of change than in the hearts and home of James Henry and Margaret Josephine (Keiser) Conner as they welcomed their son Kevin on Dec 1st.
Growing up in Grand Rapids, MI during the 60s and 70s, Kevin learned the values of family and hard work from his parents. While James worked as a die maker at Rosepatch, Margaret helped support the family through her work at Amway and working the line at a local factory. The family centered around Kevin and his four siblings: Craig, Gary, Lynn, Don and their home on Butternut Dr. in Belmont. The Conners shared rich traditions that included big family celebrations in their home. During the holidays everyone gathered around the large table to share a tasty meal, good company, fond memories, and hopes for the future. The family also enjoyed many camping trips around Michigan.
Kevin attended Baptist Academy during his elementary school years and later Rockford Public Schools for Middle and High School. When not in school, Kevin spent his time doing the things he loved best: riding dirt bikes, fishing, camping, and hunting with his favorite dog, Jethrow. From a very early age, it was clear Kevin was naturally mechanically inclined. He also possessed a limited attention span that often left him hungry for a project, as well as served as a firm foundation for an excellent work ethic. Kevin was not afraid of hard work; he was exceptionally dependable.
At the age of 25, Kevin had the good fortune of meeting Debra Bates. The happy couple married in June of 1989 and soon welcomed three beautiful children, Alivia, Kurtis, and Jacob, into their family. In September of 1999, the young family suffered an indescribable loss when Debra passed away. With a deep sense of perseverance, Kevin continued to raise his children in a loving home that valued the gifts of play and humor as much as hard work.
Fate gifted Kevin another chance at love with Joyce Bueche who was a CNA with a local Hospice. The two dated for 13 years. During these years, Kevin welcomed Joyce’s sons, Nicholas and Zachery into his heart just as Joyce embraced the gift of Kevin’s children in hers. The couple married at St. Alphonsus in Grand Rapids on April 14, 2009, honeymooned in the UP, and established their family home at 1440 Pine Ave NW. It was here that the couple continued to enjoy the pleasure of watching their children grow and eventually create families of their own. Some of the highlights of Kevin's child raising years included family trips to Disney World and out West to Yellowstone. Another memorable trip was shared with Nick and Kurtis when they traveled to Myrtle Beach for their Senior Trip. Later, Kevin enjoyed a cruise to Cozumel and Key West with Zach and Jacob for their Senior Trip. Fishing on Bluegill Lake in Northern Michigna was a prized vacation that Kevin frequently reminisced over the years.
While his life clearly pivoted on his love for his family, Kevin was a man of many interests. He brought his keen mechanical skills to his work which over the years included being a serviceman at the Plainfield Twp Water Department, driving a truck for Warner and Scholten Farm in Wayland, and most currently as a welder-maintenance worker at Betz Foundry. Kevin loved the music of his youth and was known to unhesitatingly turn up the volume for Phil Collins, the Bee Gees, and his favorite tunes which included:
“Hot Rod Lincoln,” “How Deep is Your Love,” “Night Fever,” “Simple Man,” and “Living on The Edge.” Hitting the road on one of his motorcycles or driving his beloved 1990 Toyota pickup was sure to put a smile on his face. On the rare occasion that he was still, Kevin liked to read “Field and Stream” and “Fur-Fish-Game” magazines, enjoying learning new techniques and hearing other’s success stories. Kevin never met a second helping he could say “no” to, and he especially enjoyed pot roast, chop suey, Vitale’s Pizza, and blueberry pie. Cooking the bluegill and perch he caught was a special thrill, as was the occasional squirrel or deer he was lucky to bag with his treasured 20 gauge shotgun.
Without a doubt, Kevin’s children were his greatest joy. As they became parents themselves, Kevin’s grandchildren, Charles, Avery, and Xander, became his heart’s delight. In each of their eyes, he could see the best of his legacy and his greatest hopes for the future. He loved spending time with his family, and his undauntable belief in each of them will continue to serve as a firm foundation upon which they will continue to build their own great lives.
Clearly, Kevin’s sudden departure has left us breathless and feeling a profound sense of uncertainty. In the absence of Kevin’s steadfast presence, good love, goofy antics, and unwavering care may the many sweet memories we hold in our hearts afford deep comfort. May it also be of comfort to know that each time we enjoy a good meal, snag a panfish, turn up the volume for our favorite tunes, and enjoy the thrill of the road, we carry Kevin’s legacy forward in our own lives. In so doing, Kevin’s love and light will continue to inspire countless others just as he has inspired us.
CONNER – Mr. Kevin C. Conner age 54, of Grand Rapids, passed away unexpectedly on December 28, 2017. He was preceded in death by his parents, James and Margaret Conner; and his first wife, Debra Conner. Kevin is survived by his wife, Joyce; children, Alivia (Tyler) Buxton, Kurtis Conner, Jacob Conner, Nicholas Noordyke, and Zachery Noordyke; grandchildren, Charles, Avery, and Xander. Also surviving are his brothers, Craig, Gary, and Don Conner; sister, Lynn Giles; mother-in-law, Marjorie Bueche; brother-in-law, Don (Mary) Bockheim; and many nieces and nephews. Kevin was employed at Betz Foundry for nearly 10 years. A Celebration of Life service will be held at 11 AM on Wednesday, January 3, 2018 at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW. Friends are invited to visit with his family from 2-4 and 6-8 PM on Tuesday, January 2, 2018 at the funeral home. Contributions in his memory may be made to the charity of one’s choice. Interment in SS Peter and Paul Cemetery. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com to read his lifestory, archive a memory, photo, or sign the guestbook online.