Life Story / Obituary
Alta Luella (Boyd) Blandford, the tenth of twelve children, was born November 14th, 1927 to Ella A. (Ayers) Boyd and John L. Boyd. She grew up on a farm in Williamsburg, Michigan. There Allie, as she liked to be called while she was young, would ride their plow horse much to her father’s displeasure. She would write to her grandchildren later, “…he was always telling them [the kids] things to see if they’d mind.” It was a childhood like that of many others growing up in rural Michigan at that time.
Alta didn’t know her mother well. At the age of seven, Ella Boyd died after the complicated birth of Alta’s twelfth sibling. After her mother’s death, Allie and her sister Marge, close in age and companionship, spent time at their aunt’s place just outside of Detroit, but soon returned to the family farm.
Alta and Marge would walk to the schoolhouse together until Marge’s graduation. Alta said “she learned more from her father than she did at school”, though she would always tell her grandchildren education was the most important thing. She never finished her own, instead Alta’s education ended when Marge graduated.
Marge and Alta left home together, though at the time Alta was only sixteen. They made their way to Traverse City where Alta got a job in a factory canning cherries. On the job Alta met Leora Warner and the two became fast friends. Leora convinced Alta to move to Big Rapids with her and leave Traverse City behind.
In Big Rapids Alta met and fell quickly in love with Arthur Louie Warner, Leora’s brother, while he was home on military leave. They fell hard and fast, getting married in Laredo, Texas on January 20, 1944. After Louie completed his military service, they made their way back to Big Rapids, then shortly after to Traverse City where Alta and Louie welcomed their first child, Alona. Soon after they relocated to Grand Rapids, their family grew some more. Alta gave birth to Dennis, Sharon (Senneker), and Andrew. They were happy for a time, despite Alta being a young mother. In January of 1959 Alta and Louie divorced, leaving Alta the house and kids.
Alta met her second husband, Ben Blandford while working at Saffie’s Restaurant as a hostess. They married quickly and had their first child, David, in August that same year. Alta’s last child, Gary, was born when Alta was 35, bringing their family to a total of eight. During their marriage, Alta worked at Roger’s Department Store as an assistant manager in the Dress Department and sold real estate for Pearson Cook where she had great success—selling over a million dollars in real estate for several years in a row.
Together, Alta and Ben lived on the Northeast side of Grand Rapids and spent their summers at Wolf Lake. At the lake Alta would spend her time sailing and entertaining guests. Ben and Alta felt their relationship ending and divorced in 1984. Even after their divorce, Alta would continue to summer at the cabin as often as she could.
Alta married again, this time to a Canadian gentleman by the name of George Button. Together they lived in Naples, Florida, where she continued to sail and entertain while developing a deep love of golf. George passed away in 1995 and Alta’s last name returned to Blandford.
Alta refused to marry again, though she was far from being alone. She continued to entertain and cultivated a relationship with her neighbor Ralph Waite until his eventual passing. She even worked as a server at a nearby Cracker Barrel well into her golden years. Alta was never one to let the grass grow under her feet.
Alta would often travel during summer to spend time with her six children, fifteen grandchildren, and twenty-six great-grandchildren until a car accident outside of Atlanta, Georgia, forced her to return to Michigan for good. She passed at Douglas Cove on the morning of January 26th, 2023, ending her long battle with dementia.
Alta is survived by all of her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and extended family. She will be deeply missed and dearly remembered.