Visitation from 10 AM until the start of the service
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
401 Hall St. SW, Suite 263
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Loving, trusting, and kind, Sharon "Shari" Poggi lived a life rich in faith, family, and friends. Always leading with her heart, she made everyone feel welcome and always knew how to tend to those in need. Whether opening her home, sending a card, volunteering her time, or cooking a meal, Shari had a gift for making people feel comfortable, safe, and loved. Though petite and introverted, Shari possessed a strong will and a love of learning. A beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend, Shari was treasured by all who were blessed to know her.
Shari was born in Leamington, Ontario in 1947, to Walter and Margaret Janssen Pinch on June 16th. Shari was six years older than her brother Wayne. Her father was a painter, and the family moved to Royal Oak, Michigan, when he took a job painting at Beaumont Hospital. Shari's mother was a homemaker, and the home was fastidiously kept. The family attended Calvary Baptist Church in Hazel Park, Michigan, and lived in a very diverse neighborhood. Shari grew up with many Jewish friends, and their families included her in their celebrations of tradition. Shari’s love for the Jewish culture and her Jewish friends preceded her love for her son-in-law, Jeremy, and his Jewish tradition.
Though quiet and shy, Shari loved school, academics, and reading. She enjoyed many friendships, becoming lifelong friends with Margaret Hemingsen in grade school. During her later grade school years, summers were spent with her Aunts Pat, Lena, and Rita in Canada. As a high schooler, she worked as a mother's helper for a local family.
While Shari's parents believed that a college education was not her path, when Michigan State University representatives visited her high school to interview students for scholarships and enrollment, Shari decided to partake in an interview. As a result, she was awarded scholarships, loans, and a job. Shari worked to ensure that she received an education, and was always proud of her degree from Michigan State.
In 1964, while at a mixer event during the second week of college, Shari met Mike Poggi. Mike remembers the mixer included a touch football game, boys vs. girls. As the girls' team was short of players, he joined their team. In her journal, Shari noted that she scored the winning touchdown. Mike recalls that, "Shari threw leaves in my face," and that was that; they've been together ever since. Mike and Shari helped each other through college, including that Shari ironed Mike’s shirts and Mike typed Shari’s papers. Looking back, Mike realized that Shari was always the better negotiator, and that she certainly got the best end of that deal.
Immediately after graduating with their degrees, the happy couple married on June 21, 1969 at Calvary Baptist Church. Mike is fond of remembering the date of their wedding as the “longest day of the year.” Mike and Shari honeymooned in New York City for a week with the money they received in wedding gifts, even enjoying the Broadway show "Hair," which was quite controversial for its day. Fifty years later, they celebrated their anniversary in Chicago, where they saw the Broadway show "Hamilton."
Upon returning to Michigan, Mike accepted a job in life insurance sales, but Shari’s promised teaching job fell through. To bridge the gap, Shari worked in a laundry ironing clothes. Eventually, both Shari and Mike took jobs with an insurance company in downtown Detroit. After working for some time, the company trued up its women employees. Shari landed a raise and a company car – a yellow convertible!
When Shari became pregnant with their first child, Mike’s Uncle Bob asked Mike to join his insurance agency. Mike accepted, and Mike and Shari moved back to Grand Rapids in 1973. Scott was born December 12, 1973. Notably, Shari stopped making entries in her marriage and family photo album shortly after Scott’s birth. He was the busiest child who ever lived. Though not noted in the family album, Sara was born on February 29, 1976. Shari was fond of saying that Sara was born in the morning on February 29th, and she could not have avoided Sara having a Leap Day birthday if she tried. Instead, every Leap Year, Shari made Sara a cake with candles to celebrate her “Leap Year” and her birth year, which she topped with a green ceramic frog.
Shari was a devoted wife and mother. She read to Scott and Sara from the moment they were born. She ensured that Mike, Scott, and Sara had a loving and supportive home. Shari learned to be an excellent cook, even mastering the sauce recipe from Mike’s Italian family. Indeed, Scott and Sara’s friends were always invited to stay for dinner, and they always gratefully accepted. A seat at Shari’s table was the hottest spot in town.
Shari supported Scott and Sara’s schools as a volunteer. Over the years, she reorganized the libraries at Covell and Blandford Elementary schools, and at City High Middle School. Shari’s love of the Dewey Decimal System was unsurpassed.
Every summer, the family spent time on Glen Lake at Sunset Glen Resort. They spent time in rustic cabins at the beach. While this was a challenge for the cleanliness-conscious Shari, she made each summer at the lake special. She even pan cooked the fish that Mike and the kids caught in the lake.
When Shari and Mike moved to Grand Rapids, they became members of First Evangelical Covenant Church. An active member of her church, Shari particularly enjoyed teaching Sunday School. On one occasion at church, she looked at the missionary board and selected a family who was in Africa with whom to exchange correspondence. Shari faithfully wrote to Ruth Moxon and her family while they were away and they became close. When the Moxon family returned from Africa, the families shared family pizza night every Friday at the Pizza Hut on Leonard Street. Andrew and Scott and Sara and Emily became the very best of friends.
When Scott and Sara were in high school, the Poggis hosted a German exchange student. With signature warmth, Shari welcomed Martin into their home and lives, treating and recognizing him as a son. Little did Shari predict that Martin would come back from Germany, fall in love with Emily, and take her away to Germany. While we may never truly forgive Martin, the Poggis grudgingly accept that Martin and Emily have lived happily ever after to this day.
One way that Shari connected with people was through her gift of sending just the right greeting card to family and friends. Shari maintained a ministry of sending to cards to family and friends, including to Scott and Sara as they faced challenges in college and beyond. Shari was also a natural scholar who enjoyed reading. She especially enjoyed fiction by Chaim Potok and classics like Shakespeare. Shari was famous for taking copious notes in the margins of all of her books. Shari also loved her book club, The March Sisters. Every member of the club was special to her.
Shari was also a devoted grandmother. She quickly met her grandchildren Sophia, Miles, and Luca upon their births, and welcomed and loved Tommy the minute he and Scott’s wife Jessica joined her family. Scott and Jessica’s wedding in August 2018 was a special time of joy in Shari’s life.
Keenly aware of people's needs, Shari never hesitated to fill those needs. When Sara's pregnancy with her second child became complicated, Shari moved out to California to lend a hand. She cared for two-year-old Miles, bringing him to see Sara at the hospital for lunch every day.
While at times Shari’s grandchildren grapple with the idea that they didn’t know her before her illness, Shari relished being a grandmother and grew to know her grandkids before they knew her. When the kids talk about Grandma, their parents assure them that Grandma knew them always.
After struggling with memory issues for some time, Shari was officially diagnosed with dementia in February 2019. A few months later, she and Mike renewed their wedding vows. With Mike's care, Shari was able to remain home for some time. In 2021, caregiver Barb began to help, too. With Barb's support and companionship, in March 2022, the three of them were even able to spend the month in Florida. The trip proved very memorable, especially the special drive home listening to old hymns together. When Shari required more support, she moved to Grand Brook Memory Care. Just last week, Shari and her special friend Ruth shared a nice visit outside. The following day, Shari went to sleep and never woke up.
While our days with her were far too few, may we find peace in knowing Shari is free from the earthly limitations that limited her for many years. May we also find comfort in our many treasured memories and the honor of carrying her beautiful legacy forward. Whenever we indulge in a cookie, send a special card, welcome guests to our home, enjoy a good book or canine companionship, or spend time with loved ones, we celebrate the many ways Shari gifted our lives. In this way, we keep her beautiful spirit alive and inspiring others as she inspired us. The Poggi family extends special thanks and affection to Barb, whose wisdom, love, and care was essential to caring for Shari, Grand Brook Memory Care and it’s caring leadership and staff, and Emmanuel Hospice, which made Shari’s last months with us a blessing.
Sharon "Shari" E. (Pinch) Poggi, age 76, went to be with her Lord on August 14, 2023. She was preceded in death by her parents, Walter and Margaret Pinch, and in-laws, Louis and Marion Poggi. Shari is survived by her husband of 54 years, Mike Poggi; children, Scott (Jessica) and Sara (Jeremy); grandchildren, Thomas, Sophia, Miles, and Luca; brother, Wayne; nieces, Lara and Jessie; and nephews, Jon and Josh. The memorial service will be held at 11 AM on Wednesday, August 23, 2023, at First Evangelical Covenant Church, 1933 Tremont Blvd NW. The family will receive visitors from 5:30-8:30 PM on Tuesday at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home – Alt and Shawmut Hills Chapel, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW, and Wednesday for one hour prior to the service.
Contributions in her memory may be made to Emmanuel Hospice or Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. Emmanuel Hospice is located at 401 Hall St SW, Suite 263, Grand Rapids, MI 49503. Donations may also be made via the following link: https://donate.xpress-pay.com/. The Alzheimer’s Foundation is at 322 8th Avenue, 16th Floor, New York, NY 10001. You may donate via the following link: https://alzfdn.org/donate/. Checks should be made payable to “Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.” Alzheimer’s Foundation of America is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization. Donations are tax-deductible. Their federal tax ID number is 91-1792864.
Please visit www.heritagelifestory.com to read Shari's life story, submit a favorite memory or photo, or sign the guestbook online.