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.
Calvary Church Benevolent Fund
707 East Beltline
Grand Rapids, MI 49525
Life Story / Obituary
Although he was taken from his loved ones without warning, William “Bill” Bird lived a life filled with the people and experiences that meant the most to him. He was guided by an unwavering faith, and his love and compassion for those around him was easy to see. Although Bill accomplished so much of which to be proud, his family, including children and grandchildren, were his greatest source of pride and joy. He faced challenges, but his strength and resilience were an inspiration. Life will never be the same without him, but he leaves behind a timeless legacy his loved ones will proudly carry on.
As 1940 dawned in America, the eyes of our nation were focused on WWII. As a nation was recovering from the Great Depression, Marshall Ray and Clara Mae (Gee) Bird were in a time of transition as well. On January 21, 1940 their son, William Robert was born in the family home on Benson Street in White Cloud Michigan. He was the first of two children, as he became a big brother several years later when sister Marsha was born. The family later moved to a home around the corner on Court Street. Bill’s father was the second-generation owner of the local grocery store, Bird’s Food Market. His own father, W.S. Bird established the store in 1910. Bill’s mother was a homemaker who also worked in the family store.
Bill and his family were active members of White Cloud United Methodist Church. In high school, Bill was on the football team and also assisted with track and field. Bill also worked at the family grocery store from the time he was young. Bill graduated from White Cloud high school in 1958. He later became the third-generation owner, along with his brother-in-law Jerry Laninga, of the family store.
Bill met Sharon Pierce at Robinson Lake in 1958. They dated for a couple years and married in June of 1960 at First Baptist Church in Flint, Michigan. After a honeymoon to Niagara Falls, the couple moved to a home on Gibbs Street in White Cloud. Together they welcomed three children Billy, Bob, and Yvonne into their hearts and home. As a family they enjoyed vacations to Philadelphia, Kings Island, Hawaii, and to many of the Civil War battlefields as well as Fort Myers, Florida, to visit his parents who wintered there. Although his marriage to Sharon ended in divorce, Bill was grateful for the children they shared.
Bill sold the family grocery store in 1990. Bill always said he owed much of his success to his dedicated long-term employees whom he loved like family. His love of grocery and connecting with customers never went away. He continued working part-time in grocery at Great Day, Leppink’s in Howard City, and later at Family Fare.
Throughout his life, Bill had many interests. He was actively involved in his community as a member of the White Cloud Rotary Club and Lions Club. He was a member of the West Michigan Food Distributors Association and the National Grocers Association. For years Bill bowled on a league at Fremont Lanes. He loved reading about President Lincoln and the Civil War, and never missed reading the daily paper. A huge sports fan, Bill loved MSU football and basketball. NCAA basketball tournament time found him attending many games for years with his son, Billy. He also loved the Detroit Tigers.
In 1991, Bill moved to Sparta. He began attending Calvary Church in Grand Rapids with Billy. It was there he met Dianne Vandergon. They dated for a few years, and were married on October 17, 1998, at Calvary Church. They made their home on Richmond Street in Grand Rapids and enjoyed their sunset years together. Bill and Dianne traveled to Hawaii, Gatlinburg, Minnesota, Washington, D.C., and Cleveland. He loved being a grandfather and never missed any of his grandchildren’s special days or sporting events.
Kind, generous, and deeply devoted to his family, William “Bill” Bird was a blessing in the lives of many. He could be stubborn at times, but he was also quietly loyal to the people and things he held dear. Bill was known for his tireless work ethic, giving everything his all. With a deep love for his family he treasured his roles as a husband, father, and grandfather. Deeply loved, he will be forever missed.
William Robert Bird aged 79 of Grand Rapids and White Cloud, MI, passed away unexpectedly at his home Saturday March 23, 2019. He was the son of the late Marshall and Clara Mae Bird. He is survived by his wife of 20 years, Dianne (Vandergon) Bird; his children, Billy (Vickie) Bird, Robert (Gail) Bird, Yvonne (Jim) Johnson; grandchildren, Ben and Katie Bird, Vanessa and Andrew Johnson; his sister, Marsha (Jerry) Laninga; nephews, Steve (Kelli) Laninga and Doug (Jen) Laninga and many friends. Bill was the third-generation owner of Bird’s Food Market in White Cloud, MI. He was a loving and dedicated husband, father, grandfather and a friend to all who knew him. A service to celebrate his life will be held on Wednesday, April 3rd at 11:00 am at Calvary Church, 707 E. Beltline NE. Relatives and friends may meet his family Heritage Lifestory Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. in Grand Rapids, on Tuesday, April 2, from 4:00 – 7:00 pm and again at the church on Wednesday from 10:00 am until the service begins at 11:00 am. In lieu of flowers, contributions in his memory may be made to Calvary Church Benevolent Fund. To read more about Bill’s life, to share your own memory of him, please sign his guest book at www.lifestorynet.com