Life Story / Obituary
All who knew Michael "Mike" Radimak would agree that he was truly one of a kind. He was a free-spirited person who wasn’t afraid to do things his own way with a zest for life that was contagious. Mike was proud of his country and as his family and friends can attest, he liked his music one way and one way only - loud! Life will never be the same without Mike here, but he leaves behind his own unique imprint on this world.
During the first half of the 1940s, the eyes of our nation were focused overseas as WWII raged on. However, there was much to celebrate in 1945 when the war came to an end, which required America to make the shift to being a nation at peace once again. It was during this time of adjustment that Jerry and Mary (Foster) Radimak were filled with great joy as they announced the birth of their twins, Jerrard Michael, and his sister, Karen, on June 29, 1949, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Karen was just minutes older, and since they were quite large for twins they even made the local newspaper. Usually known as Mike or Ekim (mike backwards), he was raised primarily on the Northwest side of Grand Rapids, first on Myrtle Street and then Fourth Street. Mike and Karen also had a younger sister, Kathy, who was about one year younger.
In many ways Mike was a young boy of his generation. He enjoyed things like playing outdoors, riding bikes, playing with his sisters, and playing marbles. He and his sister were in the newspaper again, this time for doing the Mexican Hat Dance at school. Mike was known to tease his sisters at times, and he was also the one who instigated his share of trouble. Mischief found him at school, too, as he got his knuckles batted with a ruler in grade school and got into some trouble at times in high school. Mike attended grade school at St. Anthony, and he was very bight and intelligent without even having to work very hard at it. While in high school he started a band (The Whereabouts) with some friends as he had a love for playing the guitar for the rest of his life. Mike particularly liked classic rock. Mike went on to graduate from Union High School.
Not to be forgotten during his years in high school was Mike’s introduction to the woman who would change the course of his life. Her name was Mary Phillips, and she lived with her mother near Mike’s father. They were on and off high school sweethearts. Shortly after graduating, Mike was drafted into the Army. Knowing this, Mary enlisted and joined before Mike was called into the service. Soon, Mike and Mary married while on leave. They exchanged their vows on May 31, 1969, at St. Alphonsus Catholic Church. They were able to stay together while serving, living most of the time in Fort Monroe, Virginia, where Mike was company clerk. Although he didn’t really enjoy being in the service, Mike was always proud of serving, his country, and his flag. While there, and even after leaving the service, the couple housed Mary’s younger siblings for a time. Although their marriage ended in divorce after six years, they were so grateful for the birth of their daughter, Melissa. Once back in Grand Rapids, they settled into a home on Fountain Street and this would be the place Mike called home for over 45 years. Mike worked at a factory for a time, but he later found a longtime job at Pridgeon and Clay.
Throughout his life Mike was a man of many interests. He was a good cook, which was something he learned from his dad. Mike loved playing baseball and softball, sometimes playing multiple nights a week, and pool was another favorite. In fact, he was known to skip school while in high school so he could play pool. Mike was also on a league for a time. He was a lover of music, both of classic rock and modern, too. He also continued to play in a band with some friends, or just jam with them. Mike had a huge collection of vinyl records, and he always played his music loud. He loved playing the lottery, and in 1983 Mike even won $50,000! He frequently played cards, and he loved his beer - usually Budweiser. He had quite an impressive decorative wall of cans in his basement to show for it. Mike loved riding his motorcycle, and as a proud gun owner he supported the 2nd Amendment. He was somewhat social during his working years and generally kept a close group of friends. As he got older, Mike became more opinionated, stubborn, and moody, making his circle quite a bit smaller. He didn't really like going out and trying new things as he would rather stay at home. Mike genuinely cared for others and had soft spot for his mother as he usually sent her flowers for her birthday and Mother’s Day. He always put a lot of thought into unique gifts for others.
With a journey that spanned times of great change in the world around him, Jerrard Michael Radimak lived life his own way. He was known for cutting off the sleeves of a tee-shirt as soon as he got it, and many of his shirts were patriotic in some way. Mike loved a slice of Vitale’s pizza, a cold beer, and great music. Mike will be forever remembered. Jerrard Michael Radimak, known to most as either Mike or Ekim, age 68 of Grand Rapids, took the stairway to heaven on March 13, 2018. He was preceded in death by his parents Jerry Radimak and Mary Vernon. Mike is survived by his daughter Melissa (Jon Carey) Kelley-Carey; grandchildren Aidan and Delaney Kelley; his twin sister, Karen (Jerry) Gunneson, sister Kathy Radimak; niece, Heather Caniff; nephew Adam (Laura) Boden; and his aunt, Joan (Jack) Longfield. To remember Mike's life, friends are invited to visit with his family on Sunday, March 18, 2018 from 2-3:30 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home - Van Strien Creston Chapel, where a brief service including military rites will conclude the gathering time at 3:30 PM. To really celebrate Mike, please dress casually, jeans and shirts with cutoff sleeves are preferred. His family prefers that in lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to either the Disabled Americans Veterans or the Wounded Warrior Project. To read more about Mike's life, to share a memory or sign his guestbook, visit www.lifestorynet.com