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Life Story / Obituary
With a warm smile and a spark of delight, Robert "Bob" Louis Pohl lived a life rich in family and friends. Bob was a quiet, kind, and loving man who always led with his heart and a desire to make life easier and more fun for others. He never demanded the spotlight and led with quiet confidence rooted in a positive outlook and unwavering faith. Those who knew him best treasured the mischievous twinkle in his eye and quick wit. He was a jokester with a dry sense of humor, inspiring much laughter and fun. Bob's family was his greatest joy, and he devoted himself to ensuring the good care of his wife, children, stepchildren, and grandchildren. An inspiration to all who were blessed to know him, Bob will long be remembered and so very missed.
1948 proved a year of continued celebration of the end of World War II. As America's heroes eagerly returned home, a renewed spirit and hope filled the air. American prosperity grew like no other time in our history. The Greatest Generation soon proliferated, creating the age of the Baby Boomers. The cause for celebration grew even greater for Norbert and Marian (Ulrich) Pohl as they welcomed their son Bob during the summer of 1948.
Growing up on the family farm in Fowler, Michigan, Bob was the oldest of 10 children. His early years were filled with activity and responsibility, including being expected to set a good example for his siblings, Stan, Allen, Jerome, Melvin and Marie (twins), Cathy, Sue, Carol, and Phyllis. The dairy farm required hard work and stamina as the demands of before and after school chores left little time for leisure. Bob helped raise his younger siblings and worked the farm full-time during the summer. Though vacations and travel were not an option, he and his siblings had fun swimming in nearby Crystal and Long lakes.
Bob attended Most Holy Trinity Catholic School and Fowler High School. Bob loved basketball and was a very good player. He enjoyed playing for his high school team and proudly wore his #13 jersey. Once, he and his brothers decided to have a pancake-eating contest. Upon eating 25 pancakes each, Bob promptly lost his appetite for pancakes.
After graduating from high school with the class of 1966, Bob furthered his education at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. Determined to get away from the farm, Bob poured himself into his studies, striving to manifest the goal he set as a young man, to be a real estate agent. With hard work and perseverance, Bob graduated in 1970 with a bachelor's degree in business.
While still a student, Bob married his high school sweetheart, Diane Armbrustmacher. The couple exchanged their vows at Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church in 1967 and were blessed to welcome their daughter, Renee, to their family the following year. With his degree in hand, Bob secured a job at Westdale Real Estate in Lansing, Michigan, where the family grew in 1972 when son Garrick was born. Though the marriage eventually and unfortunately ended in divorce, Bob was always grateful for the gift of his children.
In January of 1997, while still working at Westdale, Bob was drawn to his coworker, Gayle House. Soon after, he and Gayle went for a walk with Gayle's dog, Rosie, beginning a year of courtship before marrying on Valentine's day in 1998. The marriage gifted Bob with Gayle's five children, whom he welcomed as his own. An attentive and involved parent, Bob participated in their activities and enthusiastically cheered on all of their endeavors.
Bob was a man who enjoyed the simple things in life, including great food! A pizza connoisseur, his favorite was Peppino's Pizza. At home, he enjoyed cooking, and his favorite dish to make was Chicken Divan. He tended his vegetable garden with care, relishing the bounty and tomato rewards for Gayle. He also enjoyed listening to 1960s classic rock, playing billiards on his pool table, and keeping up with national politics. He loved Fox News, his work as a realtor, often investing in property for resale, and was a committed member of the Knights of Columbus for many years.
As empty nesters, Bob and Gayle enjoyed car road trips throughout the USA. They also enjoyed exploring the Caribbean, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic by cruise ship. Sadly, Bob was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in July 2014. In the following years, as his condition progressed, he never complained. He remained cheerful and positive and often said, "it could be worse." Regardless of life's challenges, Bob chose to embrace each day as a gift and make things fun for his family. In doing so, he showed us how to live a wholehearted life filled with love, laughter, faith, and steadfast companionship. These are the cornerstones of Bob's beautiful legacy we are honored to celebrate and carry forward.
Robert "Bob" Louis Pohl, age 74, of Grand Rapids, passed away in the comforts of his home and with his beloved wife, Gayle, at his side, in Grand Rapids on January 14. Along with his parents, he is preceded in death by his brothers-in-law, Eric Cross and Gregory Vanden Berg. Bob is survived by his wife of 25 years, Gayle J. (Vanden Berg), and his children, Renee Burcham and Garrick (Laura) Pohl, as well as by stepchildren, Rebecca (Kurt) Van Gelder, James (Sarah) House, Deanna Horvath, Gregory (Kate) House, Aimie (David) Wager; 17 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren. Also surviving are his siblings, Stan (Patty) Pohl, Allen (Ellen) Pohl, Jerome (Ann Marie) Pohl, Mel (Pam) Pohl, Marie Cross, Cathy (John) Leabu, Sue (Dean) Schrauben, Carol Crichton, Phyllis (Mark) Ventocilla and many nieces and nephews.
A Memorial Service will be held at 11:00 AM on Wednesday, January 18, 2023, at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, Alt Shawmut Chapel (2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504). Visitation will be for one hour prior to the service beginning at 10:00 AM, and a reception will follow the service at Highland Hills Baptist Church (1415 Northrup Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504). Contributions in Bob's memory may be made to the Parkinson's Foundation of West Michigan (260 Jefferson SE # 210, Grand Rapids, MI 49503). Please visit www.heritagelifestory.com to submit a favorite memory or photo or to sign the guestbook.