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.
Sacred Heart Capitol Campaign
156 Valley Ave. SW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Or Any Charity of Your Choice
Life Story / Obituary
Described as an amazing husband, father, and grandfather, Leo Olszewski will be deeply missed and lovingly remembered. His love of family, his dedication to everything he set his heart on doing, and his helpful way of treating everyone with kindness will be his legacy. Leo was a people person who cared deeply for each of his siblings, nieces and nephews as well as his lovely wife and children. There was nothing more important to him than his family and his grandchildren brought him the greatest joy. Papa Candy’s warm collection of memories will be cherished for generations to come.
Looking back on the 1920’s, it was a period of sustained economic prosperity with a distinctive cultural edge. By 1922, over 500 commercial radio stations were in operation in the US, the Lincoln Memorial was dedicated by Former US President William Howard Taft and the Great Railway strike to protest wage cuts began that July. With the media focused on jazz music and celebrities, Leo Olszewski entered the world on October 30th joining his three older siblings; Dorothy, Edward and Walter. He was the older brother to his younger sisters Esther and Gertrude and his birth brought his family great joy. He was especially close to his brother Ed who was his protector.
Growing up in Grand Rapids, he and his siblings attended Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic School. Later, he graduated with the Class of 1941 from Union High School where he remained active on both the football and baseball teams. He and his friends made a baseball diamond on an area dump where they played ball nearly every day. He worked at an early age picking berries and cherries, and later at the bowling alley. He also worked part time at 20th Century Bowling Alley as pinsetter and bartender, as well as bartending at Jackson St. Hall. Union High was the setting for the meeting of the love of his life, Shirley Fox. He met her at a high school football game and gave her a ride home. Leo was eager to start his life after high school and landed a job with General Motors as a young man. Desiring to spend the rest of their lives together, six months later, he and Shirley and married on November 8, 1947 at their family church of Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church. The newlyweds took a honeymoon to the beautiful Northern Michigan area before settling down together on Lake Michigan Drive on the west side of town. Wanting to serve his country, he enlisted in the United States Army and was stationed in India as well as California working as an airplane navigator proudly serving during the Korean War. After his military time, Leo was employed at McInerny Spring and Wire for a short time. He then took a job at Stickley Furniture and later, he joined the John Widdicomb Furniture factory where he worked to establish the role of foreman of the Rub and Trim Department, as well as running the John Widdicomb Credit Union. Leo was dedicated in his years with the company, working thirty three years until he successfully retired. Never lacking for energy to do more for his family,
Together, he and Shirley raised four wonderful children; Janice, Lynn, Karen, and David. Growing up and following in the direction of their parents’ wishes, all of the kids attended Sacred Heart School and later graduated from West Catholic High School. Leo was proud of this tradition of raising his children in his core beliefs. As a family, they treasured many family vacations to their Big Star Lake cottage that had been in the family for five generations. Big Star was the perfect setting for summer evenings or longs days boating and swimming before sitting around the campfire. After Leo’s retirement, he and Shirley fulfilled their dreams of travel to the Hawaiian Islands on two occasions as well as the beautiful beaches of Gulf Shores, Alabama and many day trips around the state of Michigan. When the kids were gone and they became empty nesters, Shirley continued working at Bridge Street Electric while Leo enjoyed his days of retirement.
Leo was a man of many varied interests. He was book smart, great at math making him a terrific accountant at home, and very politically minded. He loved keeping up with current events by reading National Geographic, Time Magazine, and the Washington Post Newspaper as well as Grand Rapids Press. For enjoyment and relaxation, Leo played on the John Widdicomb Golf League as well as weekly golf outings with his buddies. He also bowled at Clique Bowling Lanes each Thursday entering several city tournaments. He was an avid sports fan of both the Detroit Lions and Tigers. When you were in his presence you would most likely hear the sounds of Lawrence Welk or anything from the Big Band era playing in the background as Leo loved to have the radio playing at home. When he wasn’t watching the golf channel, his sense of humor was satiated with the television programming of Modern Family, Minions, Two and a Half Men, Red Skeleton, Last Man Standing, and Benny Hill. Leo could never pass up chocolate and treated himself from time to time at his favorite restaurant, Mr. Burger.
His strong sense of love and compassion was witnessed in his tender care of his wife Shirley after she suffered a stroke eight years ago. He never left her side and advocated for the best of care for her. As his own health declined, he was admitted to St. Ann’s Home for rehabilitation for three weeks before later being moved to the Christian Rest Home. Leo died peacefully with his beautiful family at his side. His generosity, fatherly advice, and his model of living life to the fullest will be deeply missed by his special family and close friends.
Leo J. Olszewski, age 94, passed away on Friday, December 2, 2016. He is survived by the love of his life, his wife of 69 years, Shirley Olszewski (Fox); his children, Janice Vugteveen, Lynn Mikulski, Karen (John) Paulson, David (Cindy) Olszewski; 11 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren; his sisters, Esther Potyraj and Gertrude Bialk-Tibbe, many nieces, nephews and friends. He was preceded in death by his grandson, Jeffrey Mikulski and his daughter-in-law, Tracey Olszewski; brothers Walter and Edward Olszewski, his sister Dorothy Sorokin; as well as several brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law. He was a member of many VFW Posts and westside halls with his sidekick nephews, Phil and John. He was a longtime member of Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church, 156 Garfield Ave. SW, where the Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Friday, December 9 at 11:30 am. Burial in Holy Cross Cemetery. Relatives and friends may meet his family on Thursday from 5:00 – 8:00 pm at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home – 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW, with a scripture service held at 7:00 PM. Visitation at the church on Friday from 10:30 am until the Mass begins at 11:30 am. To sign Leo’s guest book and to leave your own memory of him, visit his web page at www.lifestorynet.com