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Irene Grzeszak

November 2, 1923 - July 6, 2017
Grand Rapids, MI

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Visitations


Sunday, July 9, 2017
4:00 PM to 7:00 PM EDT
Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes
Alt & Shawmut Chapel
2120 Lake Michigan Dr., N.W.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
(616) 453-8263
Driving Directions

Monday, July 10, 2017
10:00 AM to 11:00 AM EDT
Holy Spirit Catholic Church
2230 Lake Michigan Drive NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504

Services


Monday, July 10, 2017
6:00 AM EDT
Holy Spirit Catholic Church
2230 Lake Michigan Drive NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Map

Contributions


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.

Holy Spirit Catholic Church
2230 Lake Michigan Drive NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504

Flowers


Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.

Ball Park Floral
8 Valley Ave.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
(616) 459-3409
Driving Directions
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


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When reflecting on the life of Irene Grzeszak, words such as private, stubborn, and generally quiet come to mind, however, perhaps the word that paints the most accurate picture of her life is faithful. Irene lived her life selflessly serving others. Known to keep a tidy home and bake the most delicious foods over the years, she relished in her years as a devoted wife and mother. Her wonderful collection of memories will be her greatest gift to all who knew and loved her.

The year 1923 was known for its economic prosperity. The first home game was played at Yankee Stadium between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. The nation was seeing large scale industrial growth and the world’s first portable radio was developed. Time Magazine made its debut and Jazz music was exploding. During a promising time in our nation’s history, Martin and Sadie (Palma) Heidenga eagerly welcomed home their newborn daughter, Irene on November 2, 1923, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Born the sixth child out of seven, her birth brought her parents great joy.

Growing up near Richmond Park she was brought up a devout Christian by her Dutch parents. She began her schooling at West Leonard Elementary and her family also attended the West Leonard Christian Reformed Church. Later, she left Union High to support the family which was typical of the times. She worked at the local grocery store earning just seven dollars a week and was no stranger to a hard day’s work! While still in school, she met the man of her dreams, Louis Grzeszak at Ramona Park on the shore of Reeds Lake. Riding the roller coaster all evening together, she knew that very night that they were meant for one another. Their romance survived his years in active military service with the US Army during WWII. While he was away, she joined the working ranks of women who supported the war effort in factories across the nation. During those years, she also began attending church with his mother and upon his return, they happily joined in marriage on June 8, 1946. St. James Catholic Church was the setting for their wedding ceremony and they settled into a home with his brother, Al and his wife until later they built a home of their very own. Old Gate NW became her forever home for nearly sixty-six years! She was most content here where she and Louis raised their two wonderful daughters; Barb and Linda. Irene took her role as a mother very seriously and nothing brought her greater joy than the years she was at home with them. Irene was known for her rigid routine of cleaning and laundry so that she could afford herself quality time with them. A thorough housekeeper, she made sure her family was well cared for over the years. In addition to her ability to keep a tidy home, she was a marvelous baker! She loved to serve up her warm banana bread, chocolate chip cookies, or chocolate cake for lucky guests and neighbors! The family enjoyed spending one week each summer on long road trips to various places throughout the beautiful United States.

Irene had many memorable pastimes during her life. Devout in her faith, she and Louis were charter members of Holy Spirit Catholic Church and strongly supported quality Catholic education. They enjoyed many nights out dancing or having some of Louis’ Army friends over to play cards while the women socialized. She and Louis loved to spend time with one another and equally treasured traveling. During the holidays, Louis loved to adorn the home with plentiful decorations while Irene loved to hang the ornaments on their Christmas tree. She loved to shop for the most meaningful gifts for her family over the years. Generous beyond measure, she carefully considered that each person received their fair share of quantity and cost. For pleasure she enjoyed years of reading, tending to her flower garden, and crocheting afghans. She was known to make one afghan for each family member that had a young child as well as donated many throughout the years. Somewhat of a homebody, she looked forward to her weekly visit with her sisters to their mother’s home to socialize.

As much as Irene savored her years of mothering, she was delighted when she became a grandmother. She was very hands-on in her approach with children, often seen playing games and baking with them. Irene enjoyed spending time with each and every one of them and was always available to watch them when their parents were working or enjoying time together. Her heart was full whenever there were children around whether they were hers or the neighbors! Blessed with an abundant family, she and Louis achieved the milestone of being great grandparents, a significant accomplishment in her eyes.

After her beloved, Louis passed away in 2002, Irene remained in her own home. Saddened by his passing, a big part of her seemed to have left with him. Her joy at that time in her life was in the continuing care of her great grandchildren. They became the focal point of her day. As she needed additional help over the years, her grandchildren, daughter, Barb and son-in-law Mike stepped in to care for her. Deeply loved, Irene’s nurturing heart and warm spirit will be fondly remembered by all who knew her.

Irene Grzeszak, age 93 of Grand Rapids, passed away at her home on July 6, 2017. She was preceded in death by her husband, Louis; and her 6 brothers and sisters. Irene is survived by her daughters Barbara (Michael) Milanowski and Linda Burns; grandchildren Brian (Laurie) Scanlon, Andrea Stump, Jeff (Tammy) Scanlon, Michael (Debra) Milanowski, Travis (Sammy) Burns; great-grandchildren Adam and Mark Stump, Morgan and Makenna Scanlon, Regan Taylor, Jacob Fenshaw, Mary and Priscilla Milanowski, Andy Blakeley and Vincent Burns, as well as numerous nieces and nephews. Her Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Monday, July 10 at 11 AM at Holy Spirit Catholic Church. Friends are invited to visit with Irene's family on Sunday from 4-7 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home - 2120 Lake Michigan Drive NW and on Monday at the church from 10 AM until the service. Interment in Holy Cross Cemetery. For those who wish, memorial contributions to Holy Spirit Church are appreciated. To share a memory or photo, or to sign her guestbook, visit www.lifestorynet.com

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