Wednesday, September 9, 2015
11:00 AM EDT
Rosedale Memorial Park
0-50 Lake Michigan Drive NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49544
Graveside service will be held prior to the service at church
Wednesday, September 9, 2015
1:00 PM EDT
First Evangelical Covenant Church
933 Tremont NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
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.
First Evangelical Covenant Church Memorial Fund
933 Tremont NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Oscar Wilmont Carlson was born at home, on his family’s farm in Northport Michigan, on December 23, 1920. Perhaps the proximity to Christmas explains why his favorite color was always red. He was the youngest of six children born to Carl “Charlie” and Christine Carlson. Joining Hilma, Rudolf, Gladys, Carl and Ethel, he completed their family. As a child, he loved the little things in life such as running around barefoot in the spring, playing hide and seek in the fields, and skiing on skis his brother hand crafted especially for him. He looked forward to Sunday services at Northport Covenant Church and this served as the foundation for his steadfast faith.
Growing up on a farm meant that Oscar was no stranger to hard work. He helped with many chores including the infamous “potato vacation,” when his school had time off so kids could help with the potato harvest. He attended the Bass Lake one-room schoolhouse through eighth grade. In the winter they often skied to school but sometimes in the other seasons they were lucky enough to ride a horse. Several years ago, he vacationed in that same schoolhouse and hiked with his family, retracing the path between school and his family’s farm.
Oscar and his siblings were close and he often noted that his brother Carl always let him tag along, never making him feel out of place. The siblings remained tight through the years, loyally supporting each other in times of need and gathering for smorgasbords comprised of the Swedish foods they enjoyed from childhood. His children remember returning to the family farm every summer to help with haying and Oscar always lived less than a mile from at least one sibling.
In 1938 Oscar moved to the “big” city, joining some of his siblings in Grand Rapids. He got a job working for a dairy farm on the northwest side of town and part of his wages came in the form of milk and cottage cheese. In 1939, he attending a social event hosted by the Young People’s Society of the Covenant Church. Little did he know that when a game left him holding hands with a certain young lady, they would end up holding hands for the rest of their lives.
Shortly after Pearl Harbor, Oscar enlisted in the army and proudly served in the Pacific. His unit had some close calls, but the worst might have been that he contracted a serious case of malaria near the end of the war. When he arrived at his sister’s doorstep, she did not recognize his skinny frame. Nonetheless, on October 27, 1945, after four years of daily letters, Oscar and Marian were joined in marriage and their love story continued for nearly 69 years.
Oscar and Marian became parents with the birth of their son Ron, followed by their son David and daughter Jan. After building a few of small projects, Oscar decided he was ready to take on a new task: building a house for his family. With some library books and a determined smile, he worked on this house each day before his job at the Post Office. A few years later, the family moved into the house that he would call home for the rest of his life. As a family they enjoyed camping in their trailer and took long summer trips all over the country, visiting family whenever possible. In his role as a father, Oscar was protective and loving. As a man of few words, he parented by example and his children grew up wanting to follow his lead.
Oscar had a deep love for extended family and others as well. Nieces and nephews remember how they were welcome in Oscar and Marian’s home. Oscar had a special place in his heart for children and made sure that everyone was accepted for who they were. Almost every afternoon there was a coffee break complete with sweets and visiting. With his quiet smile and a twinkle in his eye, all were made to feel included. Oscar wanted a home that felt active and even in his last years, he loved to have children running and laughing, keeping his house alive.
First as a clerk and then as a rural letter carrier, Oscar was proud to work for the U.S. Postal Service and made sure to send every letter and bill via “real mail” for his entire life. Retirement did not mean slowing down, as Oscar took on the role of church custodian and busied himself with a large vegetable garden, travels, and countless workshop projects. Oscar was able to enjoy weekly fishing trips all the way into his 90s, thanks to his special fishing buddy. He spent time remodeling each of his children’s houses and even some of his grandchildren’s houses were completed with advice from their favorite handyman. If he was not sure how to proceed with a project, he would say, “let me sleep on it,” and there was usually a solution by morning.
Oscar’s church family at First Evangelical Covenant Church has been a key part of his adult life. Over the years, he served as an usher, deacon, youth group leader and camp counselor. He enjoyed helping church members with handyman projects and shared his workshop with children building pinewood derby cars. His closest friends came from church and he was very involved with his beloved small group.
Oscar and Marian were perfect helpmates and complemented each other well. They were often seen holding hands as they left church, even when it was hard to tell who was holding up whom. Though Oscar started to receive care from Hospice in June 2014, it was Marian who was called home first. Oscar quietly hoped that she would go first because he wanted to be assured that she was never alone. Though he missed his life partner dearly these last eleven months, he continued to make the most of every day: taking small trips, visiting with loved ones, puttering in the garden, and enjoying meals with family. He was given the gift of time and his family continues to celebrate a life long and well-lived.
Mr. Oscar W. Carlson, age 94 of Grand Rapids was received into the banquet hall of heaven, on Friday, September 4, 2015 and the banner over his head is “love”. Oscar proudly served in the Army in the Pacific Theatre during WWII. Oscar was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Marian. He is survived by his children Ron & Vicki Carlson, David & Nancy Carlson and Janice Carlson; grandchildren Dale, Lisa, Ryan, Linnea, Christine, Daniel, Ariadhine; great grandchildren Jack, Amelia, Rhys; brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law Virginia (Maynard) Anderson, Milton Moxon, Alice (Robert) Nelson, Patricia Martin; and many other dear relatives including his niece, Joyce Carlson. Relatives and friends may visit with his family on Tuesday, September 8, at the Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes, Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW from 2-4 and 7-9 PM. Interment in Rosedale Memorial Park will take place at 11 AM on Wednesday, September 9 with the service to celebrate his life to follow at 1 PM at First Evangelical Covenant Church, 933 Tremont St NW. In lieu of flowers, his family suggests memorial contributions to either Faith Hospice or First Evangelical Covenant Church Memorial Fund. To sign his guest book and to leave a memory, visit www.lifestorynet.com