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Life Story / Obituary
There are some people who come into our lives and we are forever changed. For those who came to know and love Marilyn Little, it was evident that her zest for life and free-spirited nature was contagious. A sensible woman in all regards, Marilyn lived each day with an unending postive nature and happy demeanor. The way she viewed life clearly represented the loving and kind woman she was. While she will be forever missed, Marilyn leaves behind fond remembrances along with numerous memories always to be cherished.
Marilyn’s story began at a time when the decade of the 1950s sculpted the culture of America. Although conservative in nature, everything from music to movies, art and media to beloved comic strips and cartoons introduced households to a whole new way of life. With manufacturing and home construction on the rise, the economy boomed as the suburban dream was being realized. Indeed a time of change, this was especially true for Leslie and Mildred Adams who lived near Schoolcraft, Michigan on their family’s centennial farm. Born in Detroit, Michigan on March 16, 1951, little Marilyn Sue, at only a few months old found her way into the hearts and home of the Adams when she was lovingly adopted by them.
A typical child of the 1950s, Marilyn enjoyed all the adventures and activities of childhood at a time when life revolved around family, responsibility, and hope for the future. Her family eventually moved to Jenison, Michigan when Marilyn’s father took a job with Caterpillar Inc., a machinery and equipment company. He also continued to work the family farm on the weekends. Marilyn attended Jenison’s Bursley Elementary School and later, Grandville High School. At the age of 18, she became pregnant which was even hid from some of her family. She gave birth to her beautiful daughter, Deborah in 1969, and with mixed emotions she placed her for adoption. Although this time in her life was extremely difficult, Marilyn always kept a special place in her heart for Deborah.
Marilyn began working in manufacturing and before long came to know motherly love again when she welcomed the birth of her son, Tony in 1971. Soon after his birth she met Randy Little. In love, they eventually married, and Randy adopted Tony and raised him as his own. The family made their home in Standale at 1500 Benning NW before moving to Grandville and finally to the Allendale area where together they raised chickens and ducks along with a goat. Marilyn always did her part to help support their family by working in the plastic molding industry most of her life. When she and Randy eventually divorced when Tony was 18, Marilyn continued to work hard, especially at Royal Plastics where she had worked the longest.
Never one for cooking, Marilyn’s specialties mainly included hamburgers, hot dogs, or macaroni and cheese. She did however enjoy baking zucchini bread which came directly from her garden. Marilyn loved her large garden. She tended to it daily and absolutely loved the fruits of her labor. Always an early riser, Marilyn relished the quiet of the early mornings. She enjoyed going out for breakfast and went with her brother Daniel and his wife, Pamela whenever she could. And as always, Marilyn’s lifelong friend, Sally was merely a phone call away. Friends from their earliest years, Marilyn and Sally grew up together and attended the same schools. They spoke to one another regularly and got together at every opportunity.
Marilyn was always a sensible woman and a little bit of a neat freak, she liked things tidy and clean. She could easily reason things out, but with a little edge along with her free-spirited and happy ways. When it came to music she enjoyed the blues and musicians like Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix, but later mainstream pop music. In her free time she indulged in crafts making wooden gifts such as recipe boxes. Although quite social, Marilyn was never one for drama and never got into the middle of gossip at work. While she cared deeply for others, she just didn’t need to hear all the details!
In 2000, Marilyn’s daughter and firstborn child, Deb hired a private investigator to locate her. After a few months of searching, the investigator contacted Marilyn, and she reached out to her baby girl from so long ago who had grown into a lovely woman. Even though it took Deb a month to muster the courage to reply, mother and daughter slowly began a relationship, meeting at Russ’ Restaurant for lunch. Despite the reasons why, Marilyn said it took that one call from Deb to remove the burden she had carried since her birth. Deb was busy raising her young children and there were times they didn’t talk often.
After years of hard work, Marilyn retired from Royal Plastics in 2012 and not more than three months later she suffered from a brain aneurysm. Her son, Tony found her at home in the yard, and the episode left her a quadriplegic. For the next two years Marilyn couldn’t speak nor did she have much cognitive recognition. She began residing at Spectrum Health Rehab and eventually moved to Fountain View Assisted Living in Coopersville. It was there that Marilyn truly blossomed. She began to light up, laugh, and even talk. She answered questions and would talk about her day. She gained a new lease on life and living, and she deeply cared for those who cared for her. Things were still difficult for her as movement was hard and painful, and physical therapy was needed to promote her mobility. Through it all, Marilyn remained ever gracious serving as an example. With everything she endured, her positive attitude and thankful heart changed people’s lives. Marilyn lived by her favorite motto: “No one can change a person but a person can be the reason someone changes.”
It was during this time when Deb and Marilyn became very close. Deb saw Marilyn almost daily and even moved her to Coopersville at Fountain View to be closer. They made the most out of the time that they had together, and the beautiful part was they both realized how precious it was. Through their many talks, it was discovered that Deb had at one time even lived in Marilyn’s former home at 1500 Benning NW! And made of the same fabric, Deb carries on many of Marilyn’s personality traits.
In mid February and following several years of being on a feeding tube, Marilyn developed a torn colon. Surgery and the prognosis for recovery was not a viable option for Marilyn, so she was placed in the care of hospice. Once stabilized, she happily returned home to Fountain View where she dearly loved her caregivers and they loved her.
Marilyn Little lived life to a beat all her own. She loved fully and lived completely at every opportunity. She never hesitated letting those around her know how important they were and how much they meant to her. Marilyn was a very joyful and happy person whose smile brightened many lives. In addition, her lively spirit and uplifting attitude was an inspiration to all. For these things and so much more, she will be greatly missed.
Marilyn Sue Little, aged 66, of Grand Rapids, passed away on February 27, 2018 with her family at her side. She was preceded in death by her parents, Leslie and Mildred Adams. She is survived by her children, Deb (Doug) Stapley and Tony Little; four grandchildren; brother, Daniel (Pamela) Adams; a niece and two nephews. The Funeral Service will be held at 3:00 PM Friday, March 2, 2018 at Jenison Christian Church, 7003 28th Ave, Hudsonville. The family will receive visitors from 2:00 PM until the time of the service. Inurnment in Georgetown Township Cemetery. Contributions in her memory may be made to Fountain View Assisted Living, a Baruch Senior Ministry. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com to share a favorite memory or photo of Marilyn and to sign her online guestbook.