Obituaries — May 6, 2010

May

Stephen May, a 17-year-old Rockford High School (RHS) senior and Belmont resident, died unexpectedly and went to be with his Lord on April 28, 2010.

He went to Assumption Catholic Elementary School and was an active member of the parish. In the seventh grade, he began attending Rockford Public Schools. Despite his 5’10” lean frame, he could out-eat any of the players on the football or basketball team. He is described by his many friends as one of the most outgoing, funniest, young men they have ever met.

He loved playing sports and was on the varsity football, basketball and track teams. He enjoyed working with young children, including coaching, mentoring, serving as a positive role model, and teaching children’s liturgy every Sunday at Assumption parish. His favorite hobby was fishing, and he entered numerous contests (recently staying up all night trying to win a trolling motor).

Stephen was an excellent student and planned to attend Michigan State University in the fall to study business. His brother, Brett, describes Stephen as a person who always put others ahead of himself. He made his grocery list according to what his friends ate. Many RHS seniors viewed the May home as their second home where they were always welcomed.

Stephen was an upbeat person who enjoyed a great practical joke; his teammates say he embarrassed them, but they enjoyed it. At an initial football retreat with dads and sons, Stephen stood in front of all and said how much he loved his family; he always put them first. With a quirky grin, like a Cheshire cat, Stephen lit up the room.

The RHS school community mourns the loss. In the words of Stephen’s father, “Celebrate life. It is something to be valued and cherished.”

Stephen was always kind, loving, humorous and thankful, and will be lovingly missed by his parents, Jamie and Gerilyn (nee Janicki) May; brother, Brett; grandparents, Steve “Dziadji” and Helen “Bushi” Janicki of Belmont, Mrs. Marilyn May of Sutton Bay; aunts and uncles, Karen and Art Swartz, Pat and Dick Wiebe, Barbara and Mark Jackson, Mary “Joje” and Bob Wismer, Julie and Jeff Forbes, Stephanie and Stuart Cohen, Greg May and Linda Marie Stevens, Mike and Cheri May; many cousins. He was preceded in death by his grandfather, Joseph May.

The mass of Christian burial for Stephen was offered on Monday at 11:00 a.m. at Our Lady of Consolation Church in Rockford with Rev. Peter Vu presiding. Interment was in Assumption BVM Cemetery. The Rosary was prayed on Sunday evening at 7:00 p.m. at Assumption BVM Catholic Church in Belmont. To celebrate Stephen’s memory and continue his love of giving, contributions may be made to the Rockford Education Foundation in care of Rockford Public Schools, or the VanAndel Research Institute designated for Parkinson’s Disease.

Arrangements were made by Pederson Funeral Home, Rockford.

Buth

Mr. Richard Daniel Buth, age 89, of Grand Rapids passed away on Sunday, May 2, 2010. He was born in Belmont on December 6, 1920, to Frederika and Daniel Buth.

He is survived by his daughters, Diane (Dale) Hoekstra of Hastings, Linda (Richard) Babcock of Carmel, Ind., Danielle Buth of Ada and her special friend Art Holden, and Janet (Greg) Ashe of Solon, Ohio; grandchildren, Stephanie Hoekstra, Janelle Hoekstra (James McMullin), Allison (Tom) Satinover, Jennifer (Jeremiah) Schouppe, Katie Rose Pichette, Cheyenne Ashe; one great-grandchild, Iliana Lindsay Schouppe; and several nieces and nephews. Dick was preceded in death by his wife, Martha L. (Ericksen) Buth; his granddaughter, Lindsay Pichette; brother, Gerrit Buth; sisters, Frances Lamoreaux and Genevieve Minion.

Dick graduated from Comstock Park High School, where he participated on many sports teams. He also graduated from Michigan State University, where he was a member of the Theta Chi fraternity. He joined the Navy after college during WWII and was stationed in Florida, Texas and California. He returned to Michigan after the war and taught several years in the Comstock Park district, also coaching, including state champion golf teams. In 1995 he was inducted into the Comstock Park High School Athletic Hall of Fame. While he was teaching, he also owned and operated a dairy farm. After teaching, he served as a state legislator and then served several years as a Kent County commissioner, including chairman, and served on the Gerald R. Ford International Airport Board. While his daughters were in school, he served on the Rockford District School Board.

Dick was a longtime member of Green Ridge/Egypt Valley Country Club and was past president of the club. He was a member of the First Congregational Church of Rockford, UCC, and served as church moderator for a time. Dick was an avid golfer and enjoyed all Michigan State sports, holding season tickets to football games for over 50 years.

The service for Mr. Buth will be on Saturday afternoon at 1:00 at First Congregational Church of Rockford, UCC, corner of Bridge and Fremont streets, with Rev. Laurel TenHave-Chapman officiating. Interment will be in Plainfield Township Cemetery. Those planning an expression of sympathy are asked to consider Egypt Valley Scholarship Foundation in care of Egypt Valley Country Club, 7333 Knapp NE, Ada, MI 49301, or First Congregational Church of Rockford, UCC, Building Fund, 192 E. Bridge St., Rockford, MI 49341. Relatives and friends may meet with the family at the Pederson Funeral Home in Rockford, on Friday, May 7, from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m.

Arrangements were made by Pederson Funeral Home, Rockford.

Smith

Mr. Ralph R. Smith, age 91, of Rockford passed away early Tuesday morning, April 27, 2010. He was born in Princeton, Kentucky.

When the call of his country was heard during WWII, First Sgt. Ralph R. Smith marched away as a brave young man with an abiding faith in God, his country and his flag to proudly serve in the 605th Tank Destroyer Battalion. After the service, he worked for more than 30 years for the City of Detroit as a supervisor in the Public Works Department.

Mr. Smith was a longtime member of Our Lady of Consolation Church, and not only would you find him attending daily masses, but until illness came he would never ever miss a Sunday or Holy Day mass. Mr. Smith was also a member of the Bishop Richter Council #7761 as a third degree Knight, supported the many activities of that council and was an honorary life member. He was an avid sports fan, a trait that has passed on to his children.

Mr. Smith was an loving father and provider and is survived by his children, Ralph “Rick” and Janet Smith Jr. of Detroit, Wanda “Wendy” A. Smith of Kentwood; grandchildren, Ralph “Rickey” and Katie Smith and their daughter Lilly, Kevin Smith, Jeffrey and Linda Smith, all of Detroit; in-laws, Wanda Rekucki and Stanley Rekucki, both of Grand Rapids. Mr. Smith was preceded in death by his wife, Sonia Rekucki Smith, on August 31, 1990, and his brothers Harold, John, Ovid, Denny and Clyde and sister Eula.

The mass of Christian burial for Mr. Smith was Saturday at 10:00 a.m. at Our Lady of Consolation Church with the Rev. Tony Russo presiding. Military honors were under the auspices of the U.S. Army with interment in Holy Cross Cemetery. The Rosary was prayed on Friday at 8:30 p.m. at the funeral home. Those planning an expression of sympathy are asked to consider Our Lady of Consolation Church.

Arrangements were made by Pederson Funeral Home, Rockford.

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