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Life Story / Obituary
As family and friends can certainly attest, Randall Smits truly understood the secret to a life well lived. He was a constant source of strength, even in the most difficult of times. Nothing brought Randy greater joy than surrounding himself with his loved ones. He was well known for his gentle determination and his solid work ethic. Dearly loved, Randy will be forever missed by those who knew him best.
The 1950s in the United States are remembered as a time of great and influential change. The country boomed in the wake of the Korean Conflict, and the civil rights movement was in full swing. It was during this exciting time that Robert and June Smits of Grand Rapids, Michigan, were eagerly anticipating the birth of their child. On March 13, 1956, their wait was finally over, and they welcomed their son, Randall Jay, into the world.
Growing up, Randy was a typical young man of his generation in many ways. He was raised in the family home on the Northwest side of Grand Rapids alongside his four siblings, Lee, Larry, Bob, and Ron. Randy’s father supported the family by working as a salesman for Boise Cascade while his mother dedicated herself to caring for her home and her family. From a young age, Randy was very close with his siblings. He and his brothers would often get into mischief and blow up model cars with firecrackers in their basement. When he wasn’t playing with explosives, Randy enjoyed playing baseball and riding mini bikes. The Smits family enjoyed many memorable vacations to the family cottage at Big Star Lake in Newaygo, Michigan. Randy attended local schools, including Westside Christian Elementary and Middle School and Unity Christian High School. While in high school, he rebuilt a 1960's Chevy Corvette and loved going to the Berlin Raceway to watch car races. Randy graduated from Unity Christian High School in 1974, ready to move on to bigger and better things.
New and exciting changes were on the horizon for Randall as he met the woman who would soon become the love of his life. Her name was Dawn Grooters, and at the time, she was working at Grandville Floral flower shop. The two first met at church when Dawn’s mother pointed Randy out while he was volunteering as an usher and said, “He’s cute.” The rest was history. The couple dated for two years, and during that time, their relationship blossomed into something truly special. With a desire to spend the rest of their lives together, Randy and Dawn were married on October 5, 1979, at Trinity Christian Reformed Church in Grandville. After a honeymoon to Toronto, Canada, and Niagara Falls, the newlyweds decided to sell Randy's beloved Corvette and use the proceeds to buy their first house on 12th Street in Grand Rapids to begin their future together.
All who knew Randy can surely agree that, of all the things he loved in life, he treasured his family above all else. He and Dawn were overjoyed to welcome their two beloved children, Laura and John, into their hearts and home. Randy thrived in his role as a father, and he did his best to support his children in all the ways he could. He was always a very patient teacher, and when it was snowing, he would drive behind his children to make sure they made it safely to their destination. Randy attended West End Christian Reformed Church with his family, where he served as a deacon and an elder. He always demonstrated the love and compassion of Christ. Later in life, he was thrilled to become a grandfather to Teddy, Emma, and Abe. Randy adored his grandchildren and loved to spoil them. He always considered himself blessed to be surrounded by so many loved ones.
Randall was never afraid to work hard when it came to providing for himself and his family. He worked in construction and was the proud owner of Thornridge Corporation. Randy specialized in building items like decks, custom cabinets, and so much more. His meticulous personality and attention to detail helped him excel in his career. Randy was an amazing woodworker, and he loved doing home improvements for himself and his customers.
Never one to sit still for long, Randy pursued many hobbies to stay busy in his free time. He enjoyed listening to classic rock and artists such as the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and Bob Segar. Randy liked going to live concerts. He could often be found playing Wordle or grilling fajitas, quesadillas, or his famous “Smashburger.” Randy would read books that helped him improve his home improvement, gardening, and craft skills. Among his prized possessions were his vinyl records collection. The Smits family vacationed to Florida every year. They also enjoyed traveling to various locations across the country, including Arkansas, Shenandoah National Park, Traverse City, Wisconsin Dells, Leelanau Peninsula, and Dickerson Lake, where they owned a cottage. Randy loved gardening with his children and later his grandchildren. He would often buy Home Depot crafts to work on with Teddy, Emma, and Abe. Randy enjoyed gardening, antique shopping, and playing pickleball. When the grand kids wanted something they turned to grandpa. He had a soft spot for spoiling his human grandchildren and his grand dogs Oakley and Joker. His love for the dogs, (his daughters dogs) was evident as he was affectionately called “Treat Guy”.
When reflecting on the life of Randall Smits, it is easy to see both his unwavering strength and his unconditional love for his family. He was a man of great character and solid integrity. A devoted husband, father, and grandfather, Randy was a friend to many and beloved by all. He was always willing to go above and beyond to serve those around him. Though he will be deeply missed, Randy leaves behind a priceless legacy that his loved ones will be proud to carry on in his footsteps.