Saturday, June 3, 2023
1:00 PM to 4:00 PM EDT
Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes
Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel
2120 Lake Michigan Dr., N.W.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Life Story / Obituary
With a warm smile and a story to tell, Roger Leon Massel lived a life rich in family and friends. Roger worked hard and enjoyed the rewards of that hard work. He loved researching and adding new acquisitions to his collections and sharing the adventure of his finds with others. Humble and kind, Roger cherished his family and every moment they were blessed to share. A husband, father, grandfather, brother, and friend, Roger will long be remembered and so very missed.
Despite the obvious gloom of the Great Depression, 1934 gave birth to many celebrated firsts. Flash Gordon made his debut, and Fuji Photo Film first captured memories. The Three Stooges took center stage in their first short while the nation also met Donald Duck. The rays of Hope peeked through the clouds of despair in America when unemployment decreased to 22% marking the turning point in the Great Depression. Nowhere was there a greater sense of hope than in the home of Leon and Charlotte "Lottie" (Jendrzejczak) Masalkowski as they welcomed their son Roger to their family on August 23.
The second oldest of six, Roger's early days were filled with activity and family values. His father, who grew up in Michigan, worked as a general laborer and foreman at Hays Manufacturing, an auto parts stamping plant, and Stow Davis Furniture. His mother, who grew up in Germany, was a homemaker. The family moved to a farm on Maynard Ave in 1941, where many wonderful childhood memories were made with his older sister, Camille, and younger siblings, Conrad and Ruthie, Nancy, and Martin. Roger and Conrad would hang a curtain in the barn and put on shows for their siblings. Along with Conrad and Ruthie, Roger attended a one-room schoolhouse before transferring to Saint Adalbert Catholic School for their elementary school years. Roger attended West Catholic High School for his ninth and tenth-grade years and graduated in 1952 from Catholic Central High School. From March 18, 1957, to December 7, 1957, Roger proudly served his country in the U.S. Army.
Though Roger first met his wife, Sonya Howell, at Grand Haven Beach, they didn't immediately hit it off. They got to know each other better through a few double dates with friends and were soon a couple. With their hearts set on building a future together, they married on October 10, 1959, at Saint Mary Magdalen Parish in Kentwood, Michigan. Following a honeymoon at Niagara Falls, they settled into married life at 1533 50th Street in Wyoming, Michigan.
In 1964, Roger’s father won a week-long trip to the New York World's Fair in Queens, but Roger was not included because he did not live in the house. Determined to share the family adventure, he decided to drive to New York and spend the day with the family. When the busses dropped off the groups at the fairgrounds, Roger got off the bus and said, "This way, folks," and everyone followed Roger around like he was a tour director. Roger was always getting in these types of situations. Roger got free passes to a Las Vegas show by skipping a time-share sales meeting due to incorrectly navigating directions.
Roger worked as a traveling salesman for Goller Upholstery Fabrics. His collection of old radio shows surprisingly changed from hobby to a full time business. The Radio Vault, a mail-order business with the country's largest collection of old-time radio shows allowed Roger to be an entrepreneur. The father of five, Roger worked hard to provide his children, Shereen, Thomas, Timothy, Glen, and Chad, a supportive home. He loved to tell stories and enjoyed family vacations, including trips to Disney World in Florida, Las Vegas, Nevada, and a cross country road trip to Disneyland in California. As Roger's family grew, so too did his delight. He adored his grandchildren and great-grandchildren and was proud to witness and share their lives.
When television first came out, Roger would rent a television for a dollar a day because they were too expensive. As a child, he carefully curated an extensive comic book collection, even ironing some of the pages. He also had a significant collection of 45 records; musician and bandleader Spike Jones was his favorite. He enjoyed going to the fancy theater downtown with his brothers and sisters to watch Sunday movies. Roger had most of his homes built new. He liked to be on the cutting edge of technology and constantly upgrading. The first to have color or cable television in the neighborhood and a large moving satellite dish. He enjoyed playing casino slots and cheering on Notre Dame college football or all football for that matter.
Though the world feels less certain in the absence of Roger's steadfast companionship, may we find comfort in our many treasured memories. May we also find comfort in the honor of carrying the best of his legacy forward. In each moment we relish a good story, add to our preferred collections, listen to a classic radio show or favorite tune, or play a hot slot, we celebrate the many ways Roger gifted our lives. In this way, we keep his spirit alive and inspiring others as he so inspired us.
Roger L. Massel, age 88, of Stanwood and formerly of Wyoming, passed away on May 3, 2023. He was preceded in death by his wife, Sonya; son, Thomas; sister, Camille (Bernard) Hillman; brother, Conrad (Corrine) Masalkoski; and brother-in-law, Larry Levanduski. Roger is survived by his children, Shereen Massel, Timothy Massel, Glen Massel, and Chad (Carla) Massel; many grandchildren and great-grandchildren; siblings, Ruthie Levanduski, Martin (Bobbie) Masalkowski and Nancy (Rick) Brennen and many nieces, nephews, and friends. A visitation will be held from 1-4 PM on Saturday, June 3, 2023, at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home – Alt and Shawmut Hills Chapel, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW. Please visit www.heritagelifestory.com to read Roger's life story, submit a favorite memory or photo, or sign the guestbook online.