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Life Story / Obituary
A gentle giant, Joshua Mizak touched so many lives throughout his lifetime. He was an exceptional human being who took the time to build positive relationships with those around him. A lover of all people, Joshua had an exceptional ability to build positive relationships and rapport with those around him, especially his patients as a nursing student. A loving husband, son, and brother was taken too soon. His life taught the special people around him to focus on the good and to live each day to the fullest. His laughter could fill up any room. He will be deeply missed and lovingly remembered forever in the hearts of all who knew and loved him.
Reflecting on the year 1994, it was marked by OJ Simpson’s famous flee from police in his white Ford Bronco, the Major League Baseball Players Association’s strike causing the season to be canceled, and the blockbuster film, Forrest Gumps making its debut in theaters nationwide. During a time when the economy was stable, John Mizak and Julie Ann Geierman welcomed home with pride their newborn son, Joshua, on July 22nd in Dearborn, Michigan. Born the youngest of four children, his birth completed their loving family.
Growing up in Grosse Ile Township, Josh was known to be a bit accident prone. With a curious mind and natural sense of adventure, he had his fair share of experience with stitches and once broke his wrist. From a very young age, he learned how to climb out windows and once stepped on a yellow jacket nest earning him multiple stings all over his body. He was very active and loved to swim, play soccer, and basketball, as well as participated in Cub Scouts. With the usual amount of sibling rivalry along the way, he and his siblings remained especially close to one another. They shared many memorable vacations together as a family touring the beautiful northern areas of Michigan including St. Ignace and Mackinac Island or the Bluegrass State of Kentucky. Venturing off to Colorado to experience the Rockies, they explored horseback riding and whitewater rafting. Uniquely close to their extended family, they often traveled and camped with their grandma, aunts, uncles, and cousins as well as spent nearly every holiday dinner with relatives. New Year's Eve was often spent with his aunt and uncle and each July Fourth celebration was a picnic at Metro Park complete with fireworks! Active and motivated to earn spending money, Josh worked as a busboy, a lawn service provider, and a construction worker during his summers as a teen. Any teacher’s dream, Josh attended St. Joseph Elementary School and graduated from Grosse Ile High School. Throughout high school, he loved his years spent on the rowing team. Earning his Varsity Letter for both rowing and Cross Country, it was rowing that held a special place in his heart. Winning several awards and moving on to Nationals, he carried his love of the sport with him to Grand Valley State University his freshman year. After being accepted into the GVSU nursing program, however, he set his mind on his studies and put his desire to row on hold.
A hard working student, he took reprieve in spending time with his friends in downtown Grand Rapids. He loved to meet up over a craft brew or an order of HopCat’s crack fries and unwind. As a matter of fact, it was downtown Grand Rapids that made the perfect setting for the meeting of the love of his life! Initially meeting at the GVSU library when he was too shy to talk, he and Diana Hoeksema had a stroke of fate when their social media accounts were matched on Tinder. Recognizing one another downtown, the night ensued with talking, dancing, and exchanging of phone numbers to set up a future date. Meeting nearly a week later, they hit it off and the rest was history! With a common interest in nursing and a love of life and laughter, it was no surprise that he and Diana joined in marriage after only dating nine months and after his diagnosis. The University of Michigan University Hospital Chapel became the setting for their ceremony on March 19, 2017. Attended by their many special friends and family as well as some of Josh’s doctors and nurses, they were overjoyed to become husband and wife. No time for a honeymoon, they made the most of a beautiful day by celebrating in his hospital room with sparkling cider among the beautiful flowers and twinkling lights the nursing staff had so thoughtfully provided. After the wedding, Diana commuted between Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids until Josh was discharged and able to come home.
He and Diana shared the most special of bonds with one another. Their relationship was straight out of Josh’s favorite book, “A Man Called Ove,” where he played the grumpy old man and Diana was more like the female character who brought out the friendship and love in his life. The book seemed to reflect how they embraced one another’s faults as well as their gifts. The couple made many lasting memories while traveling to and from Chicago each week for Josh’s clinical trial treatment. They’d often spend an afternoon visiting the Windy City’s museums or stay overnight with friends they knew in the area. Diana loved that Josh typically volunteered to cook for the two of them. She grew accustomed to being treated like a queen only being served dishes to her liking. Josh wanted nothing more than to please her and each culinary experience was crafted so generously from his heart.
His sickness came at the most inopportune time. Determined to graduate with his Bachelor's degree in Nursing, he had buckled down for his senior year. Recently completing his clinical in the OB GYN department, his strong work ethic provided him with countless unreached possibilities as his diagnosis arrived just before he was able to accept a position at Spectrum Hospital. Josh never let his illness define him. Content and easy going, he leaned into his many special interests. His sister, Jennifer had turned him onto the world of essential oils and aromatherapy. A lover of animals, he brought in a stray cat and named him Perrin. Josh also took up playing the guitar, even taking lessons during frequent stays in the hospital. Music was his escape, especially country music. Visitors knew when he needed his alone time, as he’d put on his headphones and fall asleep listening to Spotify, his digital music service of choice. Described as conscientious and fun-loving, Josh’s life was a blessing to others. His family and friends will forever be changed for knowing such a bright light in their lives.
Joshua M. Mizak, aged 23, of Grand Rapids and formerly of Grosse Ile passed away next to his wife and surrounded by family on August 10, 2017. He fought a courageous ten-month battle with Acute Leukemia. Josh was enrolled in the GVSU Nursing Program and will be remembered as being an incredibly smart, talented, and hard-working student nurse. Throughout his life, Josh was known for his quick-witted humor and his hilarious one-liners. He carried himself with a sincere enthusiasm for life. He was preceded in death by his grandfathers, John Mizak, Al Geierman, and James Worst. Josh is survived by his loving wife, Diana Hoeksema; parents, John and Julie Mizak; in-laws, Bret and Beth Hoeksema; siblings, Jennifer Mizak, Jessica (Marcos) Aguilera, and Jeremy Mizak; sister-in-law, Olivia Hoeksema; grandparents, Mary Mizak, Elizabeth Geierman, Norm and Judy Hoeksema, and Betty Worst; niece, Grace; nephew, Enzo; and several aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends. A Celebration of Life Service will be held at 11 AM on Wednesday, August 16, 2017, at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 1833 Plainfield Ave NE. Friends are invited to visit with his family from 1-3 and 6-8 PM on Tuesday at the funeral home. Contributions in his memory may be made to Leukemia/Lymphoma Society. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com to archive a memory, photo, or sign the guestbook online.