Sunday, June 8, 2008
5:00 PM to 7:00 PM EDT
Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes
Van Strien Creston Chapel
1833 Plainfield Ave., N.E
Grand Rapids, MI 49505
An informal time of sharing your memories publicly will take place at 6 PM.
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.
Grand Rapids Home for Veterans
3000 Monroe NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49505
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Arnie Ingalls was a man with a quick wit, a sharp mind, and a steady hand. He was a remarkable man, able to do almost anything, and always willing to do everything. Arnie was a proud veteran, and a loving husband, father, grandfather and friend. A man who could fix or build anything, we are so much better for having known him.
Arnie’s story began on a hot summer day in 1925, as the dog days of summer came to Belding, Michigan. Those were good days in this country, times of peace and prosperity, during the heyday of the Roaring 20s, and the peak of Prohibition. On August 18, 1925, Arnie was born.
When he was just three years old, Arnie was adopted by a couple in Grand Rapids, Frank and Velma Ingalls. He was later joined by his little sister Peggy in the family’s home on the northeast side, where he was raised in a nurturing and loving environment.
Arnie was always an inquisitive person, even as a little boy. He built a radio when he was young, and began his lifelong love for bluegrass and country music. He eventually taught himself how to play the guitar, the banjo, and even the mandolin!
Arnie was equally gifted in his schoolwork, and attended Grand Rapids Central High School. While he was in high school, he began dating a pretty young girl named Sybil Lynch, whom he met because their Mothers were childhood friends. Sybil lived in Lansing, however, making their budding romance difficult.
All too quickly, the nation became involved in World War II, and Arnie was drafted into the U.S. Navy. He soon found himself aboard a floating drydock in the South Pacific. Arnie discovered his love for engines when he became a diesel engine mechanic overseas, proudly serving his country for the duration of the war. During post-deployment, he traveled aboard the USS Sylvania to the Marshall Islands to witness the atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll.
When the war ended and the smoke cleared overseas, Arnie returned home to Michigan, and made a bee-line to Lansing to see if his sweetheart had gotten married. She hadn’t, and the sight of the strapping Arnie in his Navy uniform was all it took. They began dating, fell in love, and were married on February 22, 1947, beginning a beautiful life together.
The newlyweds honeymooned in Texas, before starting their life together in Grand Rapids. He proudly told his new bride "If you want know anything, just ask me. If I know, I will tell you. If I do not, I'll lie." This was the dry wit of Arnie Ingalls.
They bought some land in northeastern Grand Rapids, and together with a friend, Arnie began building their home by hand, board by board. He and his friend did it all, the framing, the wiring, the roof, even making their own cement blocks for the foundations … There wasn’t anything Arnie couldn’t do. Even after the house was finished, the home never was, as Arnie continually expanded it, adding more bedrooms, an attached garage, and even a pool!
Arnie and Sybil(Clare to many of her Grand Rapids friends) added to their family, as well. The couple had five children over the years, though they sadly lost two little girls shortly after they were born. They were blessed with three fine sons, though, Geoffrey, Wesley and Stephen, who made them so happy and proud.
Arnie provided well for his family, working as a general maintenance man (read jack-of-all-trades) but also earning his journeyman electrician license. He spent 30 years at Light Metals Corporation, where he earned the reputation of always finding a way to make things happen. If it could be done, it would be done, and Arnie would do it!
He carried that same mentality to his countless projects around the house, from building his own lawnmower and snow blower, to tinkering with his beloved cars. He loved classic cars, from his ’44 Ford, to his ’65 Mustang, to his Mazda RX-8; the ultimate auto enthusiast. He even went so far as to cut 2 feet out of the middle of a 1971 Ford Maverick and power it with a Cummins diesel engine. He dubbed it the "Short Snort".
Arnie was always tinkering with something around the house, his three sons following him around like his shadow, watching and learning as their father worked. They followed in his footsteps in more ways than one: all three went into the Navy, and Arnie often proudly proclaimed that between the four of them, they served 50 years in the Navy!
Arnie was very proud of his service and his sons’ service, and he always wore a hat and coat bearing the Navy emblem, and the Navy flag flew proudly in his yard.
Arnie was a man in constant motion, all of his life. Very fit right to the end, he would run 3 miles a day, and always walked or rode his bicycle places when he could, rather than driving. He and Sybil(Clare) also enjoyed their long walks together over the years.
After Arnie retired, he and Sybil(Clare) traveled quite often, and went on many fantastic cruises together (what else would a Navy man do?). They enjoyed seven trips to Hawaii, two to Alaska, five to the Caribbean, and even two through the Panama Canal! They visited their kids’ homes around the country, from San Diego to Vermont and Connecticut. They drove when they could, as Arnie loved to drive. And Arnie always looked forward to visiting them and seeing his beloved grandkids, who always brightened his days.
Arnie always brightened the days of those around him, with his quick wit, his puns, jokes and “spoonerisms”. He could make you laugh out loud, with his sharp wit and impeccable delivery, drawing on his vast vocabulary, built on years of crossword puzzles (which he did in pen).
Arnie was "Mr. Fix-it" right to the end, and always felt like he should be doing something. In the spring of 2008, Arnie was watching TV at home, and there was an annoying glitch in the TV reception. So he climbed up on his roof, trying to fix it, and suffered a terrible fall. When people ask why a man of his age was on the roof, we tell them he was doing what he didn't get to when he was up there the day before. Sadly, Arnie died a few days later, on June 5, 2008, at the age of 82.
Arnie was a remarkable man, who lived a remarkable life, a life so full of successes. He was a proud veteran, loving husband, father and grandfather, and a loyal friend to many. Arnie was a man who could fix anything, and make it so much better. We were so much better for knowing him. He will be greatly missed.
Arnie is survived by his wife of 61 years, Sybil; their children Geoffrey and Ellyn Ingalls of Connecticut, Wesley and Patricia Ingalls of California and Stephen and Laurie Ingalls of Vermont; grandchildren Logan (Maureen), Brian, Angela, Jennifer, Kimberly, Karen (Ed) Matayka, Robert, Katie; a great grandchild, Trinity; his sister, Peggy (Walter) Bramley; in-laws Rosemary Morris, Richard (Thelma) Lynch and several nieces and nephews.
Friends and relatives are invited to visit with his family at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home – Van Strien Creston Chapel on Sunday, June 8 from 5-7 PM with a time to publicly share memories starting at 6 PM. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions to Grand Rapids Home for Veterans are appreciated. To share a favorite photo or memory, or to sign the online register, please visit www.lifestorynet.com