Tuesday, September 3, 2019
6:00 PM to 8:00 PM EDT
Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes
Alt & Shawmut Chapel
2120 Lake Michigan Dr., N.W.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
The Rosary will be prayed at the funeral home on Tuesday evening at 7:30 pm.
Life Story / Obituary
When reflecting on the life of Donald Antonini, it is easy to see his insatiable zest for life. A brave man who could always put others first, he used his talents to serve his family, friends, and country. Don was an avid animal lover and a sports fan, but neither of those interests could compare with the love he felt for his family. Forever loved by those who knew him, Don will be deeply missed.
The 1930s were a difficult time for our nation. The Great Depression was in full swing, bringing the American economy to a new low. Banks foreclosed on houses, people lost their jobs, and businesses closed their doors forever. But even during these trying years, there was joy in the lives of Oswald and Clara (Serafini) Antonini of Grand Rapids, Michigan, as they celebrated the birth of their son, Donald Robert, on February 21, 1932.
Throughout his childhood, Don was a joy to have around. He and his sister, Barbara, grew up in the family home on Sibley Street, NW, in Grand Rapids. Don’s father was an autoworker at General Motors while his mother was a homemaker, allowing her to raise her children. As a family they were members of St. James Catholic Church. He also experienced his First Holy Communion and his Confirmation at St. James. Don attended St. James Elementary School where he proved that despite his antics, he was a very bright child. He loved to hunt, especially deer and rabbits, and he also liked to fish. He could almost always be found tinkering on some kind of car or motorcycle or project in his free time. Some of Don’s most prized possessions were his motorcycle, speed boat, and pontoon boat. He was a mischievous child and often took his father’s car to drive. Don was caught only after his father got into the car one day and noticed that the seat was moved and the wipers were on and it was not raining when his father went into work for the day.
As a student, Don attended Union High School where he applied the work ethic that he had learned from his parents in order to graduate. It was at a high school dance that his life changed forever. Don met Marilyn Palasek, and right away, he knew that she was special. They dated through high school until Don graduated in 1950. After graduation, Don put his serving spirit to use for his country. He joined the United States Navy and served for four years during the Korean Conflict.
With his military duties fulfilled, Don returned home. He married his sweetheart, Marilyn, on April 25, 1954, at Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church. The newlyweds initially made their home in a place on Garfield Street with his grandmother. Don and his wife later moved to a home on Sharon Street in Wyoming, and in the early 1960s they built a home on Beaumont Street, NW. Don worked hard to provide an amazing life for his wife. He first worked at General Motors, and he later worked for Hi-Ram Manufacturing, Leon Plastics, and then with a friend at LDI until retiring in 2003. Don was known to many as “Uncle Don” or “Bunk.” During his retirement years Don worked delivering cars and going on customer service runs for his nephew through Pfeiffer Infinity. . He truly enjoyed this work. Don also did odd jobs with his best friend “Buzz” Franzak installing pools. No matter what he was doing, work was never really work for Don.
Don filled his life with serving and loving others. Though he and his beloved wife never had any children of their own, they enjoyed helping to guide their many nieces and nephews as parental figures. Don loved to make things for others, and he was known for building “Washer Boards”, a game where he was the champion. He then gave them to his nieces and nephews. Don also enjoyed taking his nieces and nephews fishing, swimming, and boating during the summers, creating many wonderful memories with them. Don often made elephant ears on the grill with all kinds of toppings, and he liked watching his family and neighbors enjoy them. Always known for his empathy and serving heart, Don would always ask how someone was doing and if he could help them in any way. He loved giving support to anyone who needed it. There was nothing Don treasured more doing things he liked with the people who meant the most to him.
As his family and friends can attest, Don was truly a man of many interests. He was a wholehearted Detroit Lions football fan, and he loved watching the games. He also adored his many Boston Terriers including Midgie, Roudy, Sissy, Dandy, Max, and Nicki. Don never lost his love for cars, and perhaps his favorite was his Chevy Monte Carlo. Some of his favorite family memories were made on the several trips to Las Vegas with his nephews. Some of Don’s proudest moments were spent at the cottage on Hess Lake in Newaygo, as it was a place to relax and have fun.
Life was forever changed for Don when his beloved wife was diagnosed with cancer in 2013. He tenderly cared for her until she died one year later, on June 23, 2014. Life was never the same for Don, and he had his own health issues to deal with including heart problems, a broken hip, and bladder cancer. He spent some time recovering in a nursing home, and just this past Sunday he was admitted to Butterworth Hospital where he took his last breath surrounded by his loving family.
A lifelong WestSider, Donald Antonini was the sort of person everyone seemed to know. He was the patriarch of his family who truly inspired others to be the best they could be. Together with his wife, Don exemplified that marriage is truly intended to be as they were best friends and true companions. He worked hard in everything he did, and he never let hard times get the best of him. A father figure to many, Don will be forever remembered.
Donald Robert Antonini, aged 87, of Grand Rapids, passed away on Wednesday, August 29, 2019, at Spectrum Health – Butterworth Hospital, with his loving family at his side. He was preceded in death by his wife of 61 years, Marilyn Antonini (Palasek); his nephew, Mike Boyd, and his niece, Leslie Huevelman. Don is survived by his sister, Barbara Hoover; nieces and nephews, Craig (Laura) Ressell, Kelly (Brent) Prusinski, Cindy (Rick) Ayala, Sue Boyd, Ron Huvelman; many great nieces, nephews, and friends. Don proudly served his country in the US Navy during the Korean War. He retired from LDI. He was very proud of his cottage on Hess Lake. The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Wednesday, September 4, 2019 at 11:00 am at Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church, 156 Valley Ave. SW. burial in Resurrection Cemetery. Relatives and friends may meet his family on Tuesday from 6:00 – 8:00 pm at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW, with the rosary prayed at 7:30 pm. Visitation at the church on Wednesday from 10:00 am until the Mass begins at 11:00 am. To read more about Don’s life, to sign his guest book and to leave your own memory of him, visit his webpage at www.heritagelifestory.com.