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Life Story / Obituary
Kris Cheslek was a special person to know and love. She believed in the good nature of people and was a generous and loyal friend to many. She modeled a life of integrity and believed strongly in treating everyone she met with love and kindness. Her immense energy, bright smile, and positive outlook will be deeply missed by her close family and special friends.
The year 1958 brought Americans bigger cars with larger engines, yet imports continued on the rise with more Toyotas from Japan. America’s first satellite was launched from Cape Canaveral. The Microchip that we now rely on daily for work or home, was first developed in its very early stages. That same year, John Howard and Norma Jean (Van Ess) Tournell welcomed their newborn baby girl, Kristin Kay, into their loving home on June 5th in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Born the middle child following her older sister, Jane, and later followed by her younger brother, John, Kris’ arrival was filled with joy and happiness.
Growing up at 2041 Seventh Street NW, Kris lived a typical childhood of the times. Her father was an incredibly hard worker and enjoyed working as a salesman for International Paper Company. Her mother was a wonderful homemaker and events planner for the Peninsular Club in town. Born with an adventurous spirit, she enjoyed horseback riding, snow skiing, as well as ice skating. Kris attended Oakleigh Elementary as well as Covell in her early years. She continued her studies at Oakleigh Middle School as well as West Middle School. Much of her childhood was sharing memories during the holidays at her Aunt June’s home in Chicago for Thanksgiving and large family gatherings at their home for Christmas. Union High School was the setting of her teen years where she enjoyed playing the flute and being social. Always active and on the go, Kris enjoyed a wide variety of experiences during her growing years.
Kris met her soulmate, Steven Cheslek, during her high school years. They were both working at area restaurants and mutual friends introduced them at a local coffee shop. They were smitten from the start and enjoyed one another’s company for ten years before they married on Saturday, October 11, 1986. The happy couple honeymooned in northern Michigan. Some of their stops were Frankfort, Petoskey, and Mackinac Island. Together they raised two wonderful children, Nicole Ashley and John Charles.
As a mother, Kris enjoyed spending time with her children. She stayed at home when they were young and worked as a waitress at various restaurants in the area to supplement the family income. In their downtime, they were known to enjoy the pool and entertain the family pets. Over the years, Kristin helped raise countless dogs, cats, birds, guinea pigs, and even a duck! She raised her children with a strong foundation of faith and attended the First Evangelical Church in Grand Rapids regularly. They also made countless memories at their Aunt Jane’s home on weekend getaways. Kris and Steven also enjoyed taking the kids on trips to Detroit to show off the areas where Steven hung out during his college years. Kris was always supportive of Nicole and John’s many special interests and never wavered in her love for the two of them.
Easygoing and patient, Kris devoted her life to her family yet also held special pastimes. She loved houseplants and over the years had collected a wide variety. She also enjoyed cooking and baking. Her family always enjoyed her homemade casseroles as well as her Swedish treats including coffee bread at Christmastime. Whenever she was in the kitchen, she was sure to cook enough food to feed an Army! She loved sharing her meals with friends and neighbors to lift their spirits and ease their burdens. Her favorites were Filet Mignon and Fricano’s pizza! Kris enjoyed spending time with her two granddaughters and making them breakfast. She also took care of her mother, Norma, including weekly shopping trips to the grocery store and running errands to the bank. There was never a down moment in her day-to-day living.
As much as she savored her hobbies and many special interests, it was clear that Kris enjoyed her close friends and family the most. She marveled at the simple pleasures in life. Described as happy and outgoing, she leaves behind a wonderful collection of memories for her loved ones to cherish forever. May her passion for people continue on in the hearts of the many lives she touched over the years.
Kristin Kay Cheslek, age 65, of Grand Rapids, MI, passed away in the comfort of her home and in the company of her family on Tuesday, October 17, 2023. Kristin is survived by her husband of 37 years, Steven Cheslek, and their daughter Nicole (Will) Singer, son, John Cheslek, and granddaughters, Norah and Natalie. Also surviving are Kristin’s mother Norma Tournell, her brother John (Maureen) Tournell, her aunt Audrey Branstrom as well as several cousins including Miriam Tournell and Joanie Farnol. Kristin is preceded in death by her father, Howard Tournell, and sister, Jane Stone.
The service to remember and celebrate Kristin’s life will be held on Saturday, October 28, 2023, at 2 PM at First Evangelical Covenant Church (1933 Tremont Blvd NW., Grand Rapids, MI 49504), where friends are invited to visit with her family beginning at 1 PM.
For those who wish, memorial contributions to the Humane Society of West Michigan, (3077 Wilson Dr. NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49534), are appreciated.