Life Story / Obituary
A jack of all trades and then some, Marv Sienkiewicz was always on the go. A true “Westsider”, Marv was a friend of many, and never knew a stranger. More than anything, Marv was a hard working family man, devoted husband and dedicated to all entrusted to his care. Truly a fixture in his community, Marv will be deeply missed and fondly remembered.
The crash of the stock market in late 1929 created financial turmoil from coast to coast, and by 1930, 1,350 banks had failed in the U.S. The entertainment world was a welcome deviation from everyday worries, and music played a vital role to the delight of many. During these changing times in the riverfront city of Grand Rapids, Michigan, the birth of Marvin Michael Sienkiewicz on June 1, 1930 gave his parents, Michael and Mary (Giza) Sienkiewicz much to be thankful for.
Marv’s family was proud of their Polish heritage and they spoke Polish in their home. The youngest of six children, Marv joined his older siblings, Phillip, Stanley, Edward, Helen, and Nettie. They made their home on the west side of Grand Rapids on Second Avenue where young Marv grew up experiencing the adventures of childhood. As a boy he loved hunting and fishing, and he did so at every opportunity. The onset of the Great Depression created great financial struggles and although these times were hard, Marv and his family counted their blessings.
A family devout to their Catholic faith, they were faithful members of the Basilica of St. Adalbert where Marv attended elementary school. He then went on to attend Union High School through the 11th grade. During his youth, the travesties of World War II clearly reached the home front when Marv’s brother, Ed was killed. His brother, Phil returned home after being shot and remained paralyzed, and his brother, Stanley suffered from PTSD. Despite the toll of World War II on Marv’s family, he felt the call to duty and joined the U.S. Army during the Korean War. In the service for three years, Marv worked as a mechanic until his honorable discharge, returning home to Michigan to help his mother care for his brothers.
Marv was always one to keep busy. He loved dancing, and he came to share this passion with the young woman who forever changed his heart, Patricia Blauw. Marv and Patricia were quite the pair on the dance floor dancing to tunes that drew a bead of sweat across their brows. The couple dated for a time and with a deep, abiding love, they shared vows of marriage on November 9, 1957 at the Basilica of St. Adalbert followed by a festive Polish reception.
Marv and Pat began their new lives together in a home on Alpine Avenue before moving to 2nd Street. They eventually built a home on Nordberg NW, later purchasing their family home on Winona Avenue NW where Marv would remain for the rest of his days. The northwest side was Marv’s forever home and he knew nearly everyone. Although he witnessed many changes to the area, Marv loved the Westside. Pat made a good home for Marv and their three children, Edward who was born in 1963 followed by twin daughters in 1965, Jennifer and Mary. He loved Pat’s cooking, especially when she made the traditional Polish food he loved, like kielbasa, glombki, pierogi, and kapusta.
Marv worked hard and was a good provider for his family. In the early years, he worked at Kelvinator and then for Michigan Bumper. In 1970, he bought the El Dorado Bar on West Fulton Street NW, and he was thankful to own his own business. He also had a few rental properties he owned.
Holy Spirit Parish became their church home for a time before Marv and Pat returned to St. Adalbert. Numerous memories and fun times were enjoyed as a family taking in the beaches along Lake Michigan. They loved visiting extended family and going on picnics. A few family vacations to Florida and Canada made for memorable times, too. In addition, Marv and Pat also tried their luck visiting Las Vegas a few times.
As always, Marv loved celebrating Pulaski Days and taking in the Polish festivals in town and all they had to offer. Not only a true Westsider, Marv continued to love and appreciate his Polish heritage. On Saturday nights, Marv and Pat spent the night out dancing at the local Polish halls or at the American Legion where good times were enjoyed with friends. Marv loved the sounds of Johnny Cash, Willy Nelson, other country crooners, as well as Cher.
Never one to sit idle, Marv’s rental apartments kept him busy fixing, remodeling, painting, plowing, and doing lawn work all year in addition to running the bar. For several years, Marv sold Christmas trees in December, and he always had woodworking projects he was in the middle of. Always on the move, Marv had more than enough to keep busy and it seemed he was doing two or three projects at any given time. In 2004, Marv took on one of his biggest challenges when he tore down the El Dorado Bar and built his new tavern, the Fulton Street Pub on the same site. As a longtime, Westside business owner, Marv served his community well as a member of the Kent County Table Toppers, Michigan Licensed Beverage Association, the Fulton Street Merchants and West Fulton Business Associations.
Since he was a child, Marv loved to hunt and fish. Each summer and fall he’d head out on Lake Michigan on his large boat, sure to catch his share of Coho and Steelhead. Along with his son and others, Marv loved to deer hunt on his property in Osceola County where he bagged many a trophy deer. When it came to sports, Marv was an avid Detroit Tigers, Lions, and Red Wings fan and he liked college football. He was even known to drop a wager on a few games now and then. He particularly enjoyed horse races at the Detroit Race Track, and later at the former Great Lakes Downs in Muskegon. Over the years he had a penchant for motorcycles, having owned several.
Family was the center of Marv’s life. When his sister, Netti was in a car accident and coma in the 1980s, Marv and his sister, Helen loving cared for her until her death in 1984. And when his beloved Patricia began suffering from congestive heart failure, Marv tenderly cared for her until her death in 2005. Marv took Pat’s death hard, yet the love of family and the support of friends saw him through. He sold their home and began living with his sister, Helen whom he also helped care for. Marv loved seeing his grandkids who often visited, especially on his birthday. He taught them a good work ethic, often putting several of them to work at the bar to help out.
As Marv got older, his son, Ed took over operating the bar. When the Michigan winters became too much for him, he began spending the winters at Cape Coral, Florida until this past year. With health issues of his own, Marv suffered several heart attacks and had a heart valve replacement in addition to fighting prostate cancer over the last ten years. Marv continued going to Florida where his dear friend Sunny Zeljcovic was his caregiver. At home in Grand Rapids, it was Jude Wheeler who helped him out. When Marv returned from Florida this past April, his health diminished until he was eventually placed in the care of hospice.
A hard working, dedicated man, Marv knew the love of family and in them, he found his greatest joy. He had the pleasure of dear friends, and a variety of interests that kept life busy. Marv lived a rewarding life with those he loved at his side. Although he will be deeply missed, for those who knew him best, Marv leaves much to be remembered.
Marvin M. Sienkiewicz, aged 85 of Grand Rapids, passed away at home on Tuesday, May 17, 2016, with his children at his side. He was preceded in death by wife, Patricia Sienkiewicz; his parents, Michael and Mary Sienkiewicz; his siblings, Phillip Wronko, Stan Wronko, Helen Mieras, Edward Sienkiewicz, and Nettie Sienkiewicz. He is survived by his children, Ed Sienkiewicz, Jennifer and Tony Pierzchala, Mary Sienkiewicz; ten grandchildren; five great-grandchildren and one on the way; nieces, nephews and many friends. Marv was a member of Basilica of St. Adalbert Catholic Church where the Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Friday at 11:00 AM. Relatives and friends may meet his family at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home–2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW on Thursday from 4-7 PM with the scripture service at 7:00 PM. Visitation also at the church on Friday from 10:00 AM until the Mass begins. Burial in Holy Cross Cemetery. Marv’s family would like to thank Sunny Zeljkovic, Jude Wheeler and Faith Hospice for the love and care given to Marv and his family this past year. Contributions in his memory may be made to Faith Hospice. To read more about Marv’s life, to sign his guest book and to leave your own memory of him, please sign his guest book at www.lifestorynet.com.