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.
Gary Sinise Foundation
PO Box 50008
Studio City, CA 91614-5001
Serving Honor and Need to Wounded Warriors
Life Story / Obituary
A devoted husband, father, and friend, William Malin lived a life rich in service to others. A proud Marine, William embodied the principles of the Corps living each day firmly rooted in honor, courage, and commitment. A man of character, fortitude, and heart, William proved a safe harbor for others and an inspiration to all who were blessed to know him. Revered by many, Bill will long be held in the hearts and lives of those he loved.
1946 was a year marked by much celebration and hope. With the victorious end of World War II, families tuned into the celebratory tunes of Bing Crosby, Perry Como, and the Andrews Sisters, while children delighted in the debut of the slinky. While the nation relished in a renewed sense of peace and newfound hope, even greater promise for the future was celebrated in Battle Creek, Michigan with the birth of William Ellis Malin on October 17th.
The only child of Jean (VandeBorgert) Malin, Bill attended school in Battle Creek. He eventually became one of the boys who lived and schooled at Starr Commonwealth in Augusta. Bill enjoyed his days at the farm school where he managed to find more than his fair share of mischief and trouble. Despite the challenges of his childhood, he always reflected on his youth as a good one.
As he grew older, Bill often accompanied his mother as she commuted to Grand Rapids for work. While she worked, he spent much of his time with his grandparents and attended South High School. He also had the opportunity to go hunting with the police officers his mother worked with.
After graduating from high school, Bill enlisted in the Marines. The Marines proved a perfect fit for Bill who was immensely proud to be a part of the Corps. During his time with the Marines, Bill served in Vietnam for nearly 20 months where he was a part of the transportation division. Despite having served in Vietnam, Bill learned that he still had to take on “survival” training. In the company of a group of new Marines, he moved through the exercises with a degree of ease and confidence that clearly reflected his experiences overseas, often leaving his fellow Marines in the dust of the competitions.
Upon returning home, Bill struggled to adjust in the face of the pervasive negative attitudes toward soldiers. Fiercely proud of his service, and with a deep devotion to his fellow Marines, it was difficult to be so ill-received by the country he so loved. Regardless of the adversity, Bill determined to successfully make the transition to home and invested in his community by finding work as a cook at the Treetop Hotel on Cascade.
In 1978 Bill had the good fortune of being set up on a blind date with Sandy Czlonka. The two went to dinner at a local Mexican restaurant and stumbled through a less than stellar date. Though the date didn’t end well, they soon found themselves in one another’s company and began to date. Six months later, Bill and Sandy exchanged their wedding vows at Faith Lutheran Church on July 22nd surrounded by family and friends. Following the celebration, the happy couple honeymooned in St. Louis and then spent some time at Brower Park on the Muskegon River.
Bill and Sandy returned to Grand Rapids and made their first home on Walker NW. Eventually, they settled into their family home on Standale. Bill found work at G&N Welding for a few years until he was hired by Steelcase as a machine operator. Bill trained as an electrician quickly becoming a journeyman, working for Steelcase for 27 years before retiring.
Bill and Sandy’s family soon grew to include their son, Chris, and daughter, Lisa. Despite working long hours and days, Bill was determined to be a part of their lives and activities, whether they wanted him to or not. He was especially active with the kids when they participated in band, often loading instruments and eagerly chaperoning for band camp. Though he was quick to respond to his kids’ requests with a firm “no,” with room and time to think, he more than often gave way to their desires. He enjoyed doing the grocery shopping and cooking and became quite accomplished in the kitchen. His beef roast, clam chowder, spare ribs, and Christmas time standing rib roast were unrivaled. His Spy apple pie and lemon meringue proved divine and was oft sought after by those who knew his talents best. As a result of Bill’s affinity for Springer Spaniels, the family always included the good company of a dog; many four-legged friends completed their family over the years.
As the kids grew into adulthood, Bill and Sandy enjoyed attending Broadway musicals and taking cruises. They had the good fortune of taking 13 trips by ship where each day held a new adventure. William particularly enjoyed exploring the southern Caribbean Islands. William also began riding motorcycles again, finally getting his first Harley in 2003. He made many friends and delighted in his travels with his motorcycle club.
When not relishing in travel, Bill preferred to keep busy. Whether tending to the home, his small dogs or sharing time with family, Bill valued being on the move and being of service to others. Though his preference was to be busy, he also enjoyed sitting and watching a good TV show. Some of his all-time favorites included: NCIS, The Big Bang Theory, Wheel of Fortune, and Jeopardy. With his family’s signature trait of stubbornness, Bill also took great care in searching the internet for evidence to support his views and opinions. With his research in hand, it was tough for anyone not to agree that he was always right.
A man of size, Bill was often first perceived as gruff and somewhat aloof or shy. In fact, once Bill had taken the time to get a feel for a new person or place, he was often the life of the party. With a quick wit and an infectious laugh, he could light up a room and assure others a good time.
Several years ago Bill learned that his exposure to Agent Orange during his service in Vietnam had caused a number of health issues that compromised his autonomy and threatened his life. He struggled with his frustrations over losing his independence and fought to do as much for himself as he could. He even willed himself to be well enough to participate in one last ride with the motorcycle club over Labor Day weekend. Even though it rained for five of the seven days of the trip, Bill geared up and rode on.
Without a doubt, the world feels undeniably less certain in the absence of Bill’s steadfast presence. May it afford deep comfort to celebrate the best of his legacy in our own lives. With each memory shared, joketold, fact confirmed, and service provided to others we assure Bill’s gifts and Semper Fi spirit will continue to inspire others. Ride Safe, Bill--Oorah!
William "Bill" Ellis Malin, age 70 of Grand Rapids, passed away September 13, 2017. He was preceded in death by his mom, Jean Malin; mother-in-law and father-in-law Edward and Lori Czlonka; and his son-in-law Eric Millering. Bill is survived by his wife, Sandy; children Chris and Lisa Malin; brother, William LeRoy (Sue) Malin; sister-in-law Cathy (Scott) Castor; as well as several friends. Interment in Fort Custer National Cemetery with a private service. For those who wish, memorial contributions to the Gary Sinise Foundation (for Wounded Warriors) are appreciated. To read more about Bill, to share a memory or to sign his guestbook, visit www.lifestorynet.com