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Life Story / Obituary
A kindhearted, fun-loving, family oriented soul with a desire to make the best out of life, Shirley Ann Gritter leaves behind a lasting legacy. Always one to find the positive in any situation while willing to expend energy and resources to help others in need, she will be sorely missed by all. Shirley was a loving wife, a caring mother, a cherished grandmother and friend to many. It is difficult to say farewell to such a good spirit.
In the late days of summer, Shirley Ann was born on August 24, 1930. For most of her young life, she lived on the west side of Grand Rapids and this is where she met the love of her life, Jack Gritter.
Jack attended 12th Street Christian Reformed Church where the two met for the first time. Jack & Shirley endured quite a long courtship because Jack was called to serve in the Army. They dated for three years; during that time, Jack was stationed in Newfoundland, and thankfully, never had to travel overseas to serve in the Korean War. The wedding was rescheduled three times due to Jack's delayed departure to ship home. The third rescheduled date finally worked - even though it happened to be on a Wednesday! The newlyweds looked forward to a Niagara Falls honeymoon; however, they never completed the trip due to car trouble. Instead, they decided to settle into married life thankful that they finally exchanged vows.
They began their lives together in a house located at 1042 12th Street. Jack found employment with Imperial Motors (a Chrysler dealership) in downtown Grand Rapids. He later worked at Rapid Motor Parts, and concluded his career at Ranger Tool and Die as a Tool & Die Maker in 1990. Shirley stayed at home to keep life organized. Soon, the two became parents, and this also kept Shirley very busy. They welcomed two boys into the family; David Jack was born in 1955, and Daniel Mark was born in 1957. Eventually, the Gritter family moved to 739 Westview NW where they welcomed their third and last baby, their only daughter, Mary Ann who was born in 1962. Shirley spent many hours sewing clothes for her kids and knitting with the Knit Club from Westend CRC, which donated many items for mission outreach in Mississippi. She was a wonderful, involved, supportive, and loving mother that attended all her children's games and events.
Shirley and her family were longtime members of 12th Street CRC and Westend Christian Reformed Church which provided many social opportunities for their family. She and Jack volunteered their time to a community outreach program called “The Café” which was held at church every Wednesday. This program helped introduce the church experience to friends and neighbors who did not normally attend church. It opened the door to refreshments and great conversation. In 1974, the family volunteered to host a refugee family from Vietnam following the fall of Saigon. The one family turned out to be two families which proved to make for close quarters in the Gritter's home. Shirley graciously opened her home, and the experience turned out to be an enormous blessing for the whole family as they developed friendships and bonds to last a lifetime.
In the 1990's Shirley found an opportunity at the Christian Rest Home where she thrived as a volunteer. Shirley also enjoyed reading books about The Civil War, Abraham Lincoln, and the history of the South. She was an avid study of history.
In her younger years, she was involved with friends in the East-Side and West-Side Club. These groups would meet monthly for lunch and conversation which she continued throughout her life. As a couple, Shirley and Jack had a tight knit group of friends they kept close to their hearts. The group included eight couples: John & Marilyn Smith, Don & Gloria DeMaagd, Harry & Helen Boersma, Jay & Phil DeSmit, Jim & Jean Vanderlaan, John & Bea Hovinga, and Harry & Eleanor Verhey. For many memorable years, they planned dinners, fall and spring travel trips, and many special occasions such as their annual New Year's Eve party. Much laughter and joy were shared when the circle gathered together. Throughout the years they always made getting together a priority to celebrate their friendship.
The beauty of life continued to bless the Gritters as they experienced the joyful gift of 6 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren. Shirley and Jack spent 58 loving years together. Sadly, Jack passed away in 2011, and Shirley was supported by the love of her family and friends.
With great sadness, we say goodbye to Shirley, who passed away on May 20, 2017. We will always remember her endearing smile that always accompanied her kind heart and love for life. We find comfort with one another as we cherish the fond times we spent with her. Shirley will forever live in our hearts and memories.
GRITTER, Shirley Ann
Grand Rapids, MI
Loving mother, grandmother and friend passed away on May 20, 2017. Shirley was born on August 24, 1930 in Grand Rapids. She was preceded in death by her husband of 58 years, Jack Gritter in 2011. Shirley will be remembered for an endearing smile that always accompanied her kind heart and love for life. She had a wonderful positive attitude and a special love for family. Shirley was a longtime active member of Westend Christian Reformed Church. She will be sorely missed by her children, David Jack (Mary Ann) Gritter of Grand Rapids, Daniel Mark (Patricia Bennett) Gritter of Harrietta, and Mary Ann (Steve) Andreen of Fort Wayne, IN; grandchildren, Kelly (Jason) Lovell, Kirsten (Spencer) Vereecken, Holly (Nathan) Kroeze, Jaclyn (Jared Kukulies) Gritter, Lisa Bennett, and Katelynn Andreen; great grandchildren, Wyatt Lovell, Deacon Lovell and Georgina Kroeze. A funeral service will be held Wednesday, May 24th at 11 AM at Westend Christian Reformed Church, 1015 Westend Ave. NW. Friends may visit with her family Tuesday, May 23rd from 4-7 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Drive NW and from 10-11 AM Wednesday at the church. Interment will be in Greenwood Cemetery. Memorials may be made to Rockford Christian School. Please visit Shirley's personalized web page to read more of her life story, leave a memory or condolence at www.lifestorynet.com.