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Life Story / Obituary
Carol Jane Smith met each day with a warm heart, an infectious smile, and unwavering devotion to those she loved. Honest and frank, Carol had no interest in pretenses. She embraced each moment with enthusiasm and was always willing to give her very best in service to others. Whether sharing her latest project or her unrivaled taco casserole, Carol enjoyed life and treasured sharing it with others. A devoted wife, mother, grandmother, aunt, sister, and friend, Carol was dearly loved by all who knew her.
1951 proved a year of increased comforts and exciting new possibilities. While unemployment dropped to 3.3% the nation additionally celebrated the first direct-dial trans-coastal phone call, easier travel in more comfortable cars and on newly paved interstates, and the premieres of “I Love Lucy,” “The Day The Earth Stood Still,” and “An American in Paris.” Nowhere was the sense of hope for the future more celebrated than in Grand Rapids, Michigan as John and Mary (Kozlowski) Balulis welcomed their daughter Carol into their hearts and home on December 15th.
Growing up in the family home on Richmond St., Carol’s early years were firmly rooted in family values. While her father provided for the family with his work in the automotive industry, her mother was a homemaker and a talented seamstress who supplemented the family’s income by doing alterations. The fourth of the Balulis children, Carol enjoyed a very active home and the good company of her older siblings; Juliann, Nora, and John, as well as her younger sister, Cynthia. The family celebrated and explored their Catholic faith at Saints Peter and Paul Church. Carol attended Saints Peter and Paul Catholic School for her elementary years and later West Catholic High School for one year. Then she transferred to Union High School where she graduated with the class of 1970.
While still in high school, Carol met the love of her life, Steven Smith through a mutual friend, Greg Dolphin. They dated for four years and married on August 10, 1974, at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church. After celebrating their marriage with family and friends, the newlyweds took a honeymoon to Mackinac Island.
Following their honeymoon, the couple made their home on Riverview Ave NE where they happily spent the next 25 years. It was here that they welcomed and raised their daughter Jaime and son Eric. Carol and Steve were very active parents, and they eagerly centered their lives around their children’s schooling at North Park Elementary and Creston High School and their sporting events. Carol relished in motherhood and doing everything she could to support her children’s endeavors while also creating a loving home for her family.
Carol’s first job was working in housekeeping at Mr. President’s Motor Inn on Plainfield Ave. She later worked in a party store and eventually as a counter person at Insty Print where she learned the printing trade. Carol then took her skills to the printing department at Eberhard’s. After Eberhard’s, she worked at Presto Print until she and her sister Juliann started their own business: “Printing Zone.” Carol also worked for a time at the Kent County District Library. She also worked for many years with her husband managing their rental properties in Grand Rapids.
Both frugal and talented, Carol had a real gift for repurposing the old and transforming it into something beautiful and new. She enjoyed painting and decorating old wooden furniture, building shelves, painting doors or signs, and crafting just about anything. No project was too big for Carol. She loved a challenge and thrilled at seeing what she could create with her vision and hands.
A woman of many interests, Carol enjoyed murder mysteries both on TV and in books. She liked to watch detective shows, especially Murder in Paradise. Susan Witting Albert, Mary Higgins Clark, and Janet Evanovich were her favorite authors. When it came to music, Carol was particularly moved by sounds from around the world. She particularly enjoyed the African and South American music.
Without a doubt, Carol’s greatest joy was her family. She treasured spending holidays with extended family, and she especially enjoyed spending any time with her grandchildren. JahMan, IMara, and Zarah were truly her heart’s delight. In each of their eyes, she could easily see the brilliant glimmer of her legacy as well as her greatest hopes for the future.
Clearly, it is a shock to learn that Carol suffered a fatal heart attack on January 2, while visiting her daughter Jaime in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Her sudden departure leaves us breathless, and imagining life in the absence of her steadfast presence feels impossible. As we begin to grieve our loss, may it afford comfort to know that we carry the best of Carol’s legacy in our hearts and lives. Each time we take on a creative project that seems impossible, every moment we spend relishing in our families, and when we meet the day with a smile despite the challenges that face us, we keep Carol’s bright spirit shining and emanating out to a world that so needs her love.
Carol Jane Smith, aged 67, of Grand Rapids, passed away very unexpectedly on Wednesday, January 2, 2019, in Winston Salem, NC. She is survived by her husband Steven Smith; her daughter, Jaime Smith, and grandchildren, JahMan, IMara, and Zarah; her son, Eric Smith; her sisters, Nora Dauser and Cynthia Thompson; many nieces, nephews, and friends. She was preceded in death by her parents, John and Mary Balulis, her brother John Balulis and her sister, Juliann Austhof. Carol was a loving and dedicated wife, mother, grandmother sister and a friend to all who knew her. A service to celebrate Carol’s life will be held on Monday, January 7, 2019, at 11:00 am at Heritage Lifestory Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW in Grand Rapids. Relatives and friends may meet her family at the funeral home on Sunday, January 6, from 2:00 – 4:00 and 6:00 – 8:00 pm. To sign Carol’s guest book and to leave your own memory of her, visit her web page at www.lifestorynet.com