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.
2100 Raybrook Drive SE, Suite 300
Grand Rapids, MI 49546
Designated for Trillium Woods
Working Paws - a 4-H Club of Kent County
5962 Hatch Hollow
Lowell, MI 49331
Life Story / Obituary
Marcia Ruth Mitchell was an adventurous woman with an inquisitive mind. Her interests were as far ranging as her imagination, and her personality pushed her to explore beyond the borders of comfort and sameness. Her independent spirit and wide experience informed her opinions, which she held to vigorously. She used her education to hone many skills and passed on her knowledge and passion to hundreds of students over the course of her career. Yet, amid all her proficiencies, Marcia was very down-to-earth and simply loved spending time with family and friends.
Marcia Ruth was born May 27, 1939 in Grand Rapids, Michigan to W. Merwyn and M. Ruth (Noble) Mitchell. At the time, the United States was cautiously watching political events unfold in Europe, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt was encouraging Americans with his Fireside Chats. Families had come through the challenges of economic depression with a strong work ethic and a determination to make life better for their children. Marcia’s father supported the family as a professional music teacher in the public schools and quite naturally raised his children with a deep appreciation for music. Young Marcia developed a love for reading and music, which opened up a world of wonder that never left her.
Growing up on Merrifield Street on the city’s south-east side, Marcia attended Alger elementary school and Ottawa Hills High School. She took piano lessons and learned to play the cello. For all the serious discipline these instruments required, Marcia still enjoyed a robust childhood that included mutual pestering of her older brother Dwain and socializing with friends.
After high school, Marcia continued her studies at Michigan State University, earning her bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in music education. Being the curious student that she was, Marcia also learned to speak Russian. Tragically, it was in her college years that she was thrown into mourning with the death of her boyfriend, and in Marcia’s twenties, her mother passed away. Her resilience in the face of sorrow showed her strength of character and her enduring love of life.
Marcia’s first teaching job came with Grand Rapids Public Schools, where she taught elementary instrumental music for many years. For a time, she also taught at Northeast Middle School, but no matter where she was, Marcia was thrilled to work with young children and see them thrive. Accordingly, she set the bar high for them—just as she did for herself—yet she was also fair in ways that helped students succeed.
Beyond the classroom, Marcia invested in her community and beyond. One of her first summers as a teacher, she became the Grand Rapids Community Ambassador to its sister city in Spain. After spending a summer in the rich history and beauty of Spain, she returned to share her experience by presenting lectures and slide shows. That was just the beginning of her summer excursions. Often times she traveled with relatives to sites across the globe, including several trips to Europe. For most of her adult life, Marcia was also active in local orchestras, playing cello for the Grand Rapids Symphony and the Kent Philharmonic Orchestra and more. Though she took the occasional break from performances, Marcia had played with an orchestra as recently as December 9, 2015.
On the home front, Marcia first lived in an apartment by Eastbrook Mall, and after several years she moved to a more rural setting on 5-Mile Road NE. When she noticed property for sale in Ada Township, Marcia snapped it up and built a home on the land with a barn where she was able to board a horse and pursue another passion—show horses. She boarded some horses, but her primary focus was showing her own, for which she earned several prizes.
Around the time that she retired, Marcia sold her horses and turned her attention to dogs. Her favorites were Shelties, which she raised, trained and showed. Once again, she did well in competition, learning more than enough to eventually become a show judge. She also became involved in 4-H, teaching animal agility in presentation. During the years that she drove her motor home to winter in Florida, Marcia often coordinated her trip back home with a dog show that she judged. Such energy was typical for a woman who continued to train dogs, give private music lessons and do some teaching throughout her retirement.
In her “spare” time, Marcia had multiple crafts and hobbies on the go: flower gardening, photography, knitting, spinning her own yarn, making stained glass pieces, traveling and reading. She could get lost in a mystery novel and didn't shy away from the challenge of a big fat book. Above all, she enjoyed time with her extended family that was often spent at the family cottage on Camp Lake. The fact that her nephews enjoyed seeing her is a testament to Marcia’s genuine interest in them and her vitality for living.
Late in 2015, Marcia underwent a series of tests and discovered she had cancer. It was only a few weeks later that she succumbed to the disease at the age of 76. She will be deeply missed and lovingly remembered by her beloved family and a broad community of friends and colleagues.
Marcia Ruth Mitchell passed away Wednesday, January 6, 2016. She is survived by her brother, Dwain (Deanna) Mitchell; nephews Steve (Sherry) and David (Angie) Mitchell, as well as great nieces and nephews and many friends. Friends are invited to visit with her family and share stories as they remember Marcia's life on Saturday, January 16 at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home - Van Strien Creston Chapel, 1833 Plainfield Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI from 2-4 PM where a service will begin at 4 PM. For those who wish, memorial contributions to either Working Paws, a 4-H Club of Kent County or Faith Hospice - Trillium Woods are appreciated. To read more about her life, to share a favorite memory or to sign her guestbook, visit www.lifestorynet.com